Indian Hour

Bengaluru’s Worsening Water Crisis Should be the Wake-Up Call for India and The World

Bengaluru is facing an acute shortage of 500 million litres of water every day, which is about a fifth of the city’s total requirement. This shortage is being attributed to a lack of rainfall in the adjoining regions and depletion in groundwater levels due to overexploitation. While Bengaluru is getting all the attention, much of Karnataka and its adjacent regions are facing water scarcity. According to reports, 223 of the 236 taluks in Karnataka are witnessing drought, including Mandya and Mysuru districts, the sources of Bengaluru’s water.


Reasons Behind Bengaluru’s Severe Water Crisis

Empty Reservoirs and Reduced Rainfall are the key contributors, as Karnataka received less than normal rainfall last year. The rains were 18 per cent below average, which impacted the flow of the Cauvery River. According to reports by the Karnataka government, the water levels in Cauvery basin reservoirs are about 39% of the total capacity.


Groundwater level depletion means a reduction in the water stored underground. These aquifers are recharged by rainfall and water seepage through the ground. Reduced rainfall in previous years has impacted this cycle, and hence, the underground aquifers have failed in the city, causing this crisis.


Rapid Urbanisation has put a lot of pressure on cities as people throng to cities in search of jobs, the cities keep on growing larger, and a large population requires many resources. This added pressure leads to a scarcity of resources. The city’s infrastructure, including water supply systems and sewage networks, has not been able to keep up with the rapid growth of the city. It only aggravates the challenge of distributing resources throughout the city to meet the demands of an expanding populace.


Water Pollution from industrial discharge, untreated sewage, and solid waste dumping has contaminated water sources, leaving them unfit for consumption, which further reduces the available water supply.


Climate Change and changing weather patterns and extreme climatic conditions like prolonged droughts and scant rainfall have strengthened over the years and reduced the availability of water in Bengaluru and its neighbouring areas.


The Groundwater Crisis in India

India is the largest user of groundwater in the world. Its 60% of irrigation and 85% of drinking water come from groundwater resources. Yet, millions of Indians lack access to safe drinking water, leading to a high incidence of waterborne diseases.


Lack of Water availability in India is also a factor, as we support 17% of the global population with only 4% of the world’s freshwater resources.


Overuse, Exploitation and Contamination are the major contributors that render freshwater unusable. Overuse and exploitation of groundwater can leave aquifers dry, while contamination may lead to waterborne diseases.


Solutions and Way Forward

  • Promoting Water Conservation through innovative approaches like rainwater harvesting, greywater treatment and reuse in irrigating lawns and parks, raising public awareness through campaigns, etc. Promote sustainable agricultural practices such as drip irrigation, precision agriculture, crop rotation, and agroforestry.
  • Invest in Infrastructure such as dams, barrages, lakes, and ponds to store water and use it efficiently. In this category, an important project comes up: the interlinking of major Rivers in the country. It will ensure water availability in all regions of the nation, resulting in better water utilisation and conservation and catapulting India from a water-scarce to a water-scarce country.
  • Addressing Pollution through persistent campaigns and enforcing strict regulations on industrial discharge, sewage treatment, and agricultural runoff. Moreover, raising awareness among schoolchildren can ensure future generations are sensitive about it and tackle water pollution through their individual efforts, too.
  • One Water approach is also referred to as Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). It is the recognition that all water has value, regardless of its source. It includes managing that source in an integrated, inclusive and sustainable manner by including the community, business leaders, industries, farmers, conservationists, policymakers, academics and others for ecological and economic benefits.


Addressing India’s groundwater crisis will require policy reform, technological innovation, community engagement, and behavioural change. This crisis demands urgent attention and concerted action.

Sustainable groundwater management is crucial for India’s prosperity and resilience, as it serves as the backbone of agriculture and a lifeline for millions. India can overcome its groundwater crisis by adopting innovative solutions, promoting collaboration among stakeholders, and prioritizing long-term sustainability over short-term gains. This approach will enable India to secure a more resilient water future.


Read more: The Aam Admi Party Conundrum: Will Kejriwal Run The Delhi Government From Prison?


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