India’s Silicon Valley faces man-made water crisis
Gleaming new apartment blocks are still springing up all over Bengaluru, known as India’s Silicon Valley, even though there is nowhere near enough mains water to supply those already living and working there.
"There is a severe scarcity of water here," said Nagraj, 30, who moved to the suburban neighbourhood of Panathur a decade ago and has seen it transformed by rampant construction.
"The city is dying," says TV Ramachandra, an ecologist with the Indian Institute of Science who has predicted the Karnataka state capital could be the first Indian city to follow Cape Town in running out of water.
Already, more than half of Bengaluru’s estimated 10 million inhabitants have to rely on borewells and tankers for their water because there isn’t enough mains supply to go round.
Most of the city’s municipal water is supplied by the Cauvery river, whose waters flow through Karnataka and neighbouring Tamil Nadu state before emptying into the Bay of Bengal, and have been bitterly disputed for more than a century.
Rainwater harvesting Ecologist Ramachandra says Bengaluru has enough annual rainfall to provide water for its estimated 10 million people without resorting to borewells or rivers — if only it could harvest the resource more effectively.
Despite years of drought, the government still provides clean water to citizens at heavily subsidised rates and access to groundwater is largely unregulated.
Despite this, Shivakumar and his family have not used a single drop of mains water in the 23 years they have lived at their home in Bengaluru.
His work setting up rainwater harvesting at bus stops, in slum housing and even along the city’s metro system proved so effective that city authorities now require all new housing developments to have inbuilt systems.
"This crisis will force everyone to take up measures like rainwater harvesting and water conservation measures," he told AFP.