One of India’s leading metropolitan cities, Bengaluru, might soon be in trouble to the extent that it may need to be evacuated.
The city is facing the ever growing trouble of water scarcity and if the problem is not solved soon, there might not be enough water left to sustain the lives of millions of people, who live there.
The above situation came into highlight recently, when a residential complex near Bellandur Junction had to drill a deep borewell to find water for residents.
Astonishingly, it had to be drilled for 1,050 ft before they found water.
Talking about its depth, a local resident, Ajith Kaverappa said:
“This is the sixth borewell we got drilled in 10 years. And we are not sure how long water would last in this one.”
This is also not the lone area where residents are facing water troubles, as recently built apartments on Sarjapur Road, Bellandur, Bannerghatta Road, Whitefield, Yelahanka and Marathahalli, too face similar problems.
All these areas depend on borewells as the wells in these area often dry up because of high consumption. So, the residents have no other option but to drill new borewells.
Villages in the area too are facing similar situation, about 450km away from Bengaluru, the Gadar village in Raichur, Karnataka, Devendrappa, a 73-year-old farmer, had to dig a borewell that is 1,020 feet deep before he found water. He fondly recalls how he just had to drill for a 30 feet the first time he did it the late 1980s.
A veteran farmer, Devendrappa, used to grow groundnut on 9 acres land till five years ago, but now with so less water, he has reduced the area to 5 acres. This too has not been fruitful, as nothing has grown in the last 5 years.
When the state government was contacted about the situation, a senior hydrologist said:
“The average annual rainfall in Karnataka is 1,248 mm. But the estimated 20 lakh borewells in the state draw almost three-and-a-half times of the amount (rainfall) received to recharge the groundwater. Hence, it’s no surprise that most borewells have gone deeper, even up to 1,000 feet, and the ones which aren’t as deep have run dry.”
He then went on to add:
“Water tables in urban areas are depleting due to increasing population and the expansion of piped drinking water. And it is declining in rural areas because of the reduction in recharge areas as a result of lakes and ponds dying.”
To make matters worse, a study conducted by V Balasubramanian, former additional chief secretary of Karnataka, has already sounded a warning bell for Bengaluru.
It states that if Bengaluru continues to utilize ground water at current rate, there will be a major crisis within a decade and by 2025 people may have to be evacuated from the area.
The situation in Bengaluru’s surrounding areas like Chikkaballapur, Tumakuru, Ramanagaram and Kolar, is worse with the government already having proposed a Rs 10,000-crore Yettinahole project to get water and quench the thirst of people in these districts.
But the project has already been grounded due to protests and technical reasons, and that is not good news according to some water experts who say:
“Over exploitation of groundwater for decades and lack of remedial measures have been impacting the level of groundwater in these districts. If the Yettinahole project fails to see the light of day, people may be forced to migrate from these areas in 10 years,”
To make matters worse, water pollution is high in these areas, with industries being the major factor behind it.
Not much can be done about the industries as Karnataka, as it is one of the top five industrialized states in India.
Karnataka government too has has taken its own sweet time about this crises with even the legislation to restrict digging of borewells being introduced only in 2011.
Though the legislation also said that it would be mandatory to make rooftop rain water harvesting systems, it had little impact as these laws still have not been implemented properly.
If some drastic measures are not take soon, people in Bengaluru will not only have a major problem, but people might have to go to the extent of leaving their homes and leave the city all together.