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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Water shortages, traffic aggravate Bengaluru as it votes

Bengaluru is home to thousands of startups and global firms from Walmart to Alphabet's Google and is showcased as a symbol of an ambitious, rising India. But unplanned growth and creaking infrastructure is blotting the booming city.
Last Updated : 26 April 2024, 07:12 IST
Last Updated : 26 April 2024, 07:12 IST

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Bengaluru: Dire water shortages, flooding, gridlocked roads and poor civic facilities have become major issues in Bengaluru city, residents in India's tech hub said as they voted on Friday in a general election that is otherwise focused on jobs, inflation and Hindu nationalism.

The southern city of about 14 million people, capital of Karnataka state and often called "India's Silicon Valley", voted in the summer heat in the second phase of the world's largest election, set to go on until June 1.

Bengaluru is home to thousands of startups and global firms from Walmart to Alphabet's Google and is showcased as a symbol of an ambitious, rising India. But unplanned growth and creaking infrastructure is blotting the booming city.

"The water shortage is not a surprise for us, locals. We knew it's coming. Nothing on rain water harvesting has been done by either the central or the state government," Prasanna Raghavan, an IT professional said after casting his vote.

Track our coverage of the Lok Sabha polls in Bengaluru here

"My hope is, whoever comes to power prioritises climate issues."

The city's problems have featured prominently in the campaign, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party and the main opposition Congress - which governs Karnataka state - are pitted against each other.

"The Congress government in Karnataka has turned the tech city into a tanker city, and left it to the tanker mafia," Modi said in Bengaluru last week, referring to the water tankers being used after taps dried up.

Congress blamed BJP, which ruled the state before Congress, for the water scarcity.

"The water crisis in Bangalore is not just a problem; it's a wake-up call. As your MP (member of parliament), I see it as a challenge we must confront head-on," Rajeev Gowda, Congress candidate from the Bengaluru North seat, posted on X this week.

"We should steer our infrastructure towards sustainable solutions. Water conservation isn't just a short-term fix, it's a long-term commitment," he said.

Kkavya, 19, who uses only one name, moved to Bengaluru three years ago from Kashmir in the north to study and find a job. She intends to flee the city next year when she finishes studying, fed up with its water shortages and traffic woes.

"So we say there's no use for cars in (Bengaluru), because for one kilometre, you're going to take 30 minutes, (so) just walk," she said.

This year's water shortage comes after widespread flooding in 2022 when drainage systems were unable to keep up, especially in low-lying areas, when heavy rains lashed the city.

"A total lack of planning while developing something", is the biggest issue, said Musthafa K.P., 62, a retired IT consultant living in Bengaluru for 21 years.

"The city grows rapidly every year and there will be increased pressure on natural resources," he said. "We need better technology solutions and we must start thinking about such solutions immediately."

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Published 26 April 2024, 07:12 IST

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