Bengaluru's acute water crisis: Banning constructions will not help

A view of under-construction high rise apartment in Bengaluru  

Recent media reports said that authorities were considering a five-year ban on new constructions in Bengaluru in the wake of acute water scarcity.

Actually water scarcity is prevailing across the country amidst rapid urbanisation. There is definitely a need to understand the problem, and work out solutions. There are solutions which will reduce, if not totally alleviate, the problem. Across metro cities, real estate projects have adopted them and the results have been positive.

First and foremost, we need to reuse and replenish. Sewage needs to be treated through sewage treatment plants (STPs) and the water can be re-used for washing, flushing, gardening as also for construction.

When it comes to replenish, it is about rainwater harvesting, which would charge the water table and enhance levels of water available in wells and other water bodies.

For a city like Bengaluru, these options can also be retrofitted in existing properties, while it should be ensured that under-construction projects incorporate both these right from the planning stage. These options are simple to implement, and will go a long way in ensuring that the Garden City returns to ‘full bloom’ when it comes to being among India’s most stable and progressive real estate markets.

The State government considering a five-year construction ban sounds a bit harsh for the progressive industry. The city has emerged as an IT hub for suitable commercial real estate growth with supplementary residential development. There is a huge demand for new age, tech-savvy workspaces and housing.

For the sake of argument, even if the ban is implemented, it is unlikely that the city’s water woes will find a quick solution. Apart from ‘reuse and recharge’ at the individual project level, what is needed urgently is a sound water re-storage and water management system.

Negative impact

The other side of the argument stems from severe negative impact which the proposed ban on new construction will have. If we consider that demand for homes in Bengaluru is huge, then reduced new supply will result in increased property prices.

It also means that demand and price of ready properties will go up significantly. Housing in Bengaluru will become unaffordable for the vast number of home seekers. From an economic scenario too, it will result in job losses, reduced off-take of construction materials like cement, steel and so on. The impact will be severe.

We need corrective measures to conserve water, manage water resources and ensure that rainwater harvesting as also recycling of water through STPs is strictly implemented.

It would also be a positive step, if the many lakes across the city are revived.

A ban on new construction might not be a viable solution to solve the crisis.

(The author is National President, NAREDCO)

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 5:24:10 AM |

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