Building construction ban: there is no other way

Building construction ban: there is no other way

An under-construction high-rise apartment complex near Hosakerehalli. DH/Irshad Mahammad

Drastic problems need drastic solutions. So, the shock therapy of a moratorium on the construction of new apartments for five years in Bengaluru is necessary in view of the acute water scarcity faced by the city. It is a sign of failure of past policies but there is the need to start somewhere, however difficult it is, to correct course. Every resident of the city is getting much less water than one’s daily requirement, and the availability is steadily going down. Bengaluru may soon turn into a Chennai, where water wars happen and from where people are fleeing, and into a waterless grave of aspirations in the coming years unless steps are now taken for a pause to the runaway use of water and depletion of its underground resources. Multi-storeyed apartments, which depend entirely on borewells and private suppliers, are major culprits, and stopping their construction for five years will help to restore some sanity and do some better planning for the coming years. 

At present, 80% of the city’s water comes from the river Cauvery. Other options have been proposed but may not work out. The city has also woefully failed in rejuvenating its lakes, harvesting rainwater, recycling and reducing the leakage in water supply, which at present stands at 38%. With the city’s population projected to grow to 23 million by 2031, Bengaluru is virtually staring at a wall, with absolutely no solution in sight to its water woes. The realty industry has slammed the moratorium proposal on the ground that housing projects are crucial as Bengaluru, being one of the fastest growing cities in the world, offers immense job opportunities. But what is a city without water? Who will come here and who will live here if there’s no water? The ban might actually help the realty sector to stabilise, too, as it will be able to dispose of the large inventory of vacant flats that remain unsold at present. The five-year window can well be used to preserve and augment water resources and to promote satellite towns to decongest the city.

The builder-developer mafia has over the years refused to mend its ways and come up with water and environment-friendly development. They have destroyed one lake after another, encroached on stormwater drains without care. Massive complexes are built with little thought about such a basic need as water. True, the government and the local authorities bear as much responsibility, but now, they have come to the dead end of this kind of mis-governance and maladministration. Having exhausted all other options, the government has come to this wise decision, and it must go ahead with the ban.

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