Water crisis in Bangalore

In this episode, we talk about how water crisis is cripping Bangalore.

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  • The population in bangalore was 1.62 million back in the 1970s. Now there were nine million people in Bangalore in 2012. The count went up to eleven by 2018 and it is expected to reach 20 by 2030.
  • In the period of 1970-2000 (30 years), the population has grown by 244%. And from 2001-2011, it has grown by 47%.
  • The need for water has gone up with the increase in the number of people in the city.


  • There were over 280 water bodies in the form of lakes and rivers in Bangalore in the 1960s and 1970s. The number has been cut down to around 80 in the present.
  • Most of these have water which is not suitable for drinking due to the dumping of industrial effluents and garbage.
  • Presently, 80% of the land in Bangalore is covered by concrete making it impossible for water to penetrate under the surface. This has drastically reduced the ability of rainwater to replenish groundwater.
  • Instead of relying on water bodies, the people in Bangalore are highly reliant on groundwater for all their water needs. This has led to the depletion of groundwater to such an extent that it has dropped from 200-300 feet a decade ago to almost 2000 feet now. That is a 10 times increase.
  • Illegal sand mining has also led to lakes and rivers not being able to hold more water in it. The acquisition of land for the construction of high rise building has led to deforestation and reduction in the area of water bodies. Also, most of these complexes does not have a proper water harvesting plan in place.
  • Apartment complexes, stadiums, and other buildings are being built on dried up water bodies, killing the possibility of ever replenishing them.
  • The regulations regarding the construction of borewells have not been on check and many borewells are dug very close to each other. There are on an average 6 people applying for permission to dig borewells everyday. This has also contributed a lot in reducing the groundwater level of the city.
  • Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) supplies 1.4 billion litres of water to the city, but it still falls short by around 800 million to satisfy the total need.
  • Around 40% of the water pumped to the city also leaks from the pipe.
  • Also, subsidies on electricity and irrigation for agricultural purposes has led to the increased use of water.
  • Global warming plays a part, too. As temperature has gone up in the past decade with summer lasting a lot longer than before. Rainfall has also reduced.

What is the current state?

  • Major water bodies contaminated, for example, Bellandur lake catches on fire.
  • Farmers relying on contaminated water from these rivers and lakes for irrigation
  • Reliance on water trucks which has lead to higher demand.
  • Formation of water mafia who sell water from the trucks at highly inflated prices.
  • Cauvery is one of the sources of water for bangalore, but it has to travel around 100 kms to be delivered to the people. A good share of the water leaks out during transportation and millions are spent on electricity to pump it.
  • There is a major conflict happening between Karnataka and Tamil nadu because of the Cauvery issue.
  • Bangalore will completely deplete its groundwater by 2020 if it continues at this rate.

What can be done?

  • Severe punishment for land encroachers
  • Cleaning of lakes and other water bodies
  • Wastewater reuse for purposes like gardening, washing vehicles, etc.
  • Strict enforcement of rainwater harvesting.
  • Fixing leaking water pipes
  • Conserving the existing greenery and replenishing what is lost.


Image: unsplash-logomrjn Photography