Homes and gardens

The challenge before Bengaluru

When a crisis is upon us it can have two effects: it can cloud the head or it can clear the head to be able to face up to it. We Bengalureans must seize the opportunity and set things right with our water and waste-water management, for the present and for the future.

For the first time, to the astonishment of decision makers, it was discovered that more than half of Bengaluru is not in the Cauvery basin. Therefore when a tribunal sits on allocating waters from a river basin , it can only consider that portion of the city which is in the river basin and not the portion which is not.

Within the State’s allocation it can choose to supply water to the non-basin part too. Similarly Chennai too is not in the Cauvery basin.

Crucial question

This is also a time for the city to remind itself how precious the catchment is and how necessary it is to ensure that the forests in the catchment are protected and enhanced so that the river flows are not compromised. The question to ask is are we aware of the need to protect forests and are we doing anything about it ?

As of now the city is getting 1,400 million litres per day being pumped from the river itself, amounting to 18 tmc ft. of the 270 tmc ft. allotted by the tribunal. This will necessarily grow to 35 tmc ft. as the city’s thirst grows, to a growing population and a growing economy.

The question to ask oneself is are we doing enough to protect the water bodies in the city and the periphery and make sure they act as recharge structures so that the groundwater becomes available for the city to use substituting for the precious river water.

The city generates 1,100 million litres per day of waste-water . Are we doing enough to treat the waste-water, release it to wetlands for further cleaning and then fill lakes ? This way we can bring back almost 1,000 million litres for reuse as groundwater again, preventing pressure for river water use.

Individual responsibility

At an individual level each one of us can hope to be be conservative with water use, repair the leaking sumps and tanks, put ball valves so that storage tanks do not overflow, and report to the authorities for major water leaks. Also extravagant use of precious water to wash cars and streets must surely become a social crime, to be named and shamed if not penalised.

The month of October is the rainiest month in Bengaluru. If the rains true to average we should be able to harvest a lot, for reuse, for storage , for recharge and even for drinking water.

Can we not rapidly expand the rainwater harvesting systems in our city not because it is legally mandated but because a crisis demands action from civic-minded individuals as a contribution to the solution?

Many things are needed at the institutional level too, especially plugging the financial leaks in the system and the major physical leaks that can be done especially from storage reservoirs below the ground which are old. A mobilisation of waste-water treatment plants making sure they collect all the sewage that they possibly can as well as treat them to standards is warranted.

Your city needs you, and river Cauvery needs you. Will you show water wisdom ?

zenrainman@gmail.com

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 9:23:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/homes-and-gardens/The-challenge-before-Bengaluru/article14645410.ece

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