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Water Crisis in Bengaluru

Published: 14th Mar, 2024


India’s third-most populous city is facing the worst potable water crisis in its nearly 500-year history.

1: Dimension- Factors related to Water Crisis

  • There are several factors contributing to the water problem in Bengaluru, such as insufficient precipitation, diminishing groundwater levels, poor planning of infrastructure, and the impact of water tanker operations. 
  • The situation is further exacerbated by insufficient rainfall and the proliferation of unscientifically drilled borewells.
  • The rapid de-notification of lands reserved for green cover, wetlands, urban forests and river courses is also one of the major factor.

2: Dimension- Impact of urbanisation (unplanned)

  • Only uncertain rains and changing climatic conditions cannot be blamed for the water crisis in Bengaluru, population explosion, unplanned urbanisation, unfriendly industrial and agricultural policies have also resulted in this problem.
  • Unplanned urbanisation leads to haphazard growth, altering the local ecology, hydrology and environment.
  • The consequences of unplanned urbanisation are enhanced pollution levels and a lack of adequate infrastructure and basic amenities.
  • This is evident in Bangalore with severe scarcity of water, frequent flooding, enhanced pollution levels, uncongenial buildings, mismanagement of solid and liquid wastes.

Case Study

  • Just like Bengaluru, Cape Town destroyed all its water bodies and wetlands in its pursuit of surfing the global real estate boom since 1990.
  • In less than 25 years, the city is now totally dependent on a river hundreds of kilometres away through an augmented water supply system. Due to the drought situation prevailing year after year, even the river and the reservoirs are holding less water.
  • Bengaluru appears to be following the same pattern. Bengaluru, up until 1961, had 262 lakes. This figure has now come down to 81.

Fact Box: Layers holding water

  • The Deccan plateau broadly has three layers –
    • top soil on which plants grow
    • a ‘weathered zone’ beneath the top soil
    • hard rock (particularly important from a groundwater perspective)
  • The weathered zone layer acts like a sponge and holds water in between particles. Water percolating further down fills up the fissures/ cracks/ faults in the hard rock.
  • When it rains and water percolates down, it passes through the weathered zone and then into the hard rock fissures.
  • A large connected set of fissures, in effect one single body of water under the ground, is called an aquifer.
  • Aquifers in the hard rock and are referred to as ‘confined aquifers’ as they are under pressureWater in the weathered zone is shallow and is referred to as shallow unconfined aquifer.

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