Let us begin by sharing some interesting facts and figures with you. The Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation has prescribed the average per capita per day consumption of water as 135 liters for domestic use in India. That’s a lot of water, don’t you think? Wait until you read further. About 50% of the population in Bangalore uses less than 65% of this benchmark. Whereas, 10% of us consume more than 200% of the prescribed limit. The study carried out by Ashoka Trust of Research also shows that, on an everyday basis, domestic users consume 70% of the water used by the city as a whole. And we ponder: What will happen when Bengaluru runs out of water?
We have all seen men and women lined up behind water tankers with neon-colored water pots in the by-lanes of Bangalore. We also recall images of parched lands with no greenery and women carrying water pots on their heads to fetch water. The thought is scary but it is a fast-approaching reality. Bengaluru is headed towards days where water could be rationed. The luxuries of swimming pools and beautifully landscaped garden areas will only turn into far fetched dreams.
With urbanization, the need for dwellings to accommodate the rising population has given way to family homes being demolished to construct multi-story buildings. The development authorities and real estate businesses fail to account for the stress the population concentration brings to the local watersheds. As a result, the groundwater table is slipping down each day with the scanty monsoon leaving no hopes for a recoup.
The government regulations mandate builders to organize water management systems within residential societies and commercial complexes. However, the tightly knit concrete jungle leaves no room for water to find its way down to recharge groundwater. The artificial recharge systems continue to be installed but serve just as life-size models of science and technology. Whereas, the water continues to runoff through drains into lakes and rivers and pollutes them too.
Africa: A mirror to the Future
The audacious mismanagement and abuse of water resources are paving the path for a crisis that will soon doom the basic needs of living. The future is hard to imagine. But we take a cue from the water-scarce land of Africa to just outline what it could look like.
We all know Africa as a poverty struck zone, but what is the root cause of the present state of affairs? Poverty is often linked to political instability, conflict of interest, and lack of education and opportunities. Africa is no exception. But what is seldom not factored in the case of Africa, is the scarcity of water and sanitation.
It is impossible to grow food without water. Therefore a healthy life is far-fetched. No buildings for dwelling or commercial purposes can be constructed without water. Therefore no schools and colleges are available. Commercial activities are absent for lack of infrastructure.
What remains are the not-so-strong humans for labour, who spend most of their time transporting just enough water for drinking from far off sources. The time that could be converted to money is also lost sourcing water which may not even be clean enough. We are not even talking about the life risk and poor healthcare systems they are exposed to.
The Future of Bangalore
The idea of showing the extreme mirror image was not to create havoc. But just imagine spending three precious hours from your fast-paced life to get water. And some more to use it judiciously. Add the extra stress to it as well. What all would you miss in these three hours? Some lost sleep with a little more salt and pepper on your crown are just the smallest aftermaths.
Well, there are lots of people who are living this life in Bengaluru today as well. The water tankers doing their rounds in almost all localities say it all. Every building is drilling out a borewell for itself and still relies on the water tankers to top up for the scarcity.
We as citizens are all guilty of over exploiting the water resources of the city and robbing it off the most basic need of existence, water. We have nearly exhausted it all from the sky above to the ground beneath us. Steering clouds, polluting and manipulating lakes and rivers and sucking the ground dry, we have left no stone unturned.
This needs to stop. Else, Bangalore would be the next African model city to shut down with the military rationing water to each household. We will end up queuing with laptops hanging from the neck, working with one hand and balancing a water pot with another.
Let us do our best to save our Garden City from this nightmare. And Tankerwala is there to take care of the rest.