Recently, a study revealed that Indian megacity is fast approaching ‘Day Zero’ – a situation where taps start running dry. The assessment by Down To Earth, a magazine published by green think-tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), sounded alarm bells for many cities across the globe early this year.
Hence, we decided to take a look at the problems faced and the possible solutions for the capital of Karnataka, Bangalore. Bangalore, officially known as Bengaluru has a population of over 10 million, making it a megacity, the third most populous city and the fifth most populous urban agglomeration in India.
The report says Bengaluru could be the next Cape Town of India. Cape Town, one of the richest cities of Africa, has been reeling under one of the worst ever water crisis with many reports estimating that the city’s taps will run dry this year, within the next few months. The city has recently introduced the thought of ‘Day Zero’ to cut water use largely when most of the city’s taps will not be in use.
As far as Bengaluru is concerned, the analysis shows that the total number of extraction wells in the city has shot up from 5,000 to 0.45 million in the past 30 years. Recharge of groundwater is very less due to unplanned urbanisation. The city only uses half of its treatment capacity to treat the waste and as a result, a substantial amount of waste is dumped into the water bodies.
With natural water bodies becoming victims of concretization and rainwater harvesting being a low priority, the tech capital’s future appears grim in terms of meeting the water requirements of its one-crore-plus people. In fact, alarm strikes loudly when a BBC report, listed Bengaluru as the second city among 11 global cities that are soon likely to run out of drinking water.
A trailer of the impending crisis became clear when Bengaluru development minister KJ George admitted that the availability of water per person per day will be 88 litres by 2031 when the city’s population will touch 20 million.
Though the state government claims it will be spending Rs 5,500 crore by 2023 to increase water availability for Bengaluru to 2,175 million litres per day (MLD) from the current 1,391 MLD, not everyone is enthused. In fact, the 1,391 MLD comprises 678 MLD of Cauvery river water, 672 MLD of groundwater and 41MLD of recycled water.
So, now we are faced with the question that what can the authority and the people of Bangalore do to save itself from this fast approaching crisis?
Analysts have come up with several suggestions but some need to be done urgently while others have to pursued over the long-term. Some of the suggestions that we feel are relevant are as follows:
Rainwater harvesting: Bangalore has several huge apartment complexes, malls, office buildings and multiplexes. The demand for water is the highest in these places. The owners of these places should be compelled to harvest rainwater and use solar lighting and heating systems. This will reduce the pressure on the supply system dramatically as Bangalore receives rainfall almost throughout the year(as can be seen from the figure below). The Government can encourage the citizens by giving the citizens incentives by the way of tax-rebates.
- Water-metering: The authority should keep a tap on leaky pipes and these should be repaired at the earliest. Sometimes, many households do not attend to leaking pipes and this leads to a lot of wastage. One way to keep track of this is by water-metering and charging the people for the water supplied and levying fines on people who do not get these repaired within a certain timeframe.
- Reuse of water: Water can be reused for regular jobs like gardening, washing vehicles and the water used in bathrooms. The reuse of water can be practised throughout the country, as this is one of the most effective and economical ways to save water and reduce pressure on the municipal supply.
- Awareness: Lastly, the people should themselves take up measures on an individual level. They should realize that fresh water is a scarce commodity and should not only think of today but also realize that we have a responsibility of saving the resources for the future generations. Each citizen should be conscious not to waste even a drop of fresh water.
Water scarcity is a serious problem and one that will lead to so many other problems like unhygienic living conditions, an outbreak of epidemics, crime due to fights for water, etc. It’s about time that we wake up to realize the full impact of facing such a crisis and work to the best of our abilities to prevent such a situation.