Bengaluru water woes

Bengaluru was known earlier as Garden City and a Paradise after Retirement. With the population explosion in India and the advent of IT revolution in the 1990s, millions of people from all over India moved to Bengaluru in search of jobs. This has resulted in the drastic increase in the population of Bengaluru. There is a huge shortage of the natural resources like Land and water. There is an increase in the number of vehicles on the road resulting in traffic jams and Air pollution. Travel times to and from Office has increased leading to loss in productivity.

Water history of Bengaluru

Modern Bengaluru was founded by Kempe Gowda in 1537. He desired to make Bengaluru as a Business hub and created the pete (market) areas and brought Businessmen from all parts of the country. Nobody would believe now that Bengaluru had two rivers which were used for drinking water purpose even till 1950s. Vrishabhavati River originated near a temple in Malleshwaram and flowed west parallel to Mysore Road and joined Arkavathy River. Another river called Dakshina Pinakini originated in Nandi hills and flowed south then east through the eastern part of Bengaluru flowing into Hosur in Tamil Nadu. It is called South Pennar River in Tamil Nadu. Kempe Gowda and his descendants built lot of lakes and tanks to cater to the needs of the people. Bengaluru was also called Kalyanipura(Land of Lakes) at that time. When the British formed the Cantonment region, they constructed more lakes and water reservoirs and linked them together to supply water to the people. From some estimates there were more than 900 lakes in Bengaluru. From around 1900 water was pumped from Arkavathy River to Bengaluru and then the Cauveri River from 1960’s to cater to the raising water needs.

Current state

Vrishabhavati River has become the Kengeri Mori(Gutter of Kengeri). All sorts of Industrial and domestic waste is being dumped into it. Dakshina Pinakini river is dead and disappeared. Only sewage flows from the eastern suburbs into the latter part of the river. 90% of the lakes have disappeared into land, encroached by concretization. Some of the remaining lakes have become highly polluted with waste and sewage dumping. Cauveri water is the main source for large part of Bengaluru. But outer suburbs still don’t get Cauveri water and depend on the water from Borewells. Apartments in the IT corridor of Bengaluru rely on the water tankers from private distributers. This has led to the rise of water mafia who source water illegally from Borewells near the lakes and supply water through tankers at exorbitant prices. Nowadays to get water from borewells one needs to dig 1200ft. In some places they even go till 1800ft. According to some estimates Bengaluru draws more than 4 times the underground water which is recharged every year from the rain. There is only limited water available from Cauveri as neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Puduchery also are dependent on it. Every year there are Cauveri conflicts between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu due to water shortage. This is a crisis situation but still there seems to be no substantial action from the Government or the people.

What can be done?

If the present situation continues for a decade the underground water will dry up and water will become a precious commodity. Following are the some of the steps to be taken on war footing to save water for ourselves.

  • People need to urgently take action to eliminate water wastage and reduce the usage as much as possible. Taps being left open and water pumps being switched on with tanks being overfilled is just not acceptable and awareness needs to be raised among children and careless adults.
  • Reduce taking showers to 2-3 times a week instead of taking daily. Use a natural deoderant instead.See great tips here. How to stay clean withot showering every day
  • Install water efficient shower heads and toilets and reduce number of flushes
  • Wash clothes less and use full load in washing machine
  • Government needs to urgently plan to rejuvinate the lakes and plan to revive the Vrishabhavathi and Dakshina Pinakini River.
  • Promote Rain water harvesting
  • Take strict action against those dumping waste and pollutants into the river.
  • Government should setup a number of STP around the city and try to treat 100% sewage water and reuse that water

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