Environmentalists highlight impact of a ‘thirsting, monstrous’ city

Activists at a convention on excessive growth and water use, organised by Sharavati Nadi Ulisi Horata Okkuta along with other environmentalists, at Gandhi Bhavan in Bengaluru on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: K_MURALI_KUMAR

All rivers, it seems, flow towards Bengaluru at the cost of the ecology and those living in other parts of the State.

With pipelines bringing in nearly 1,500 million of water daily from Cauvery river being insufficient to satiate the city’s thirst, work is afoot on the diversion of Yettinahole river towards the city.

Meanwhile, with a proposal to pump water from Sharavathy river, 300km away, gathering steam, environmentalists converged in the city on Sunday to highlight the effects of a ‘thirsting, monstrous’ city.

K.S. Somashekar, an environment activist who had petitioned the National Green Tribunal against the Yettinahole project, had said diverting water from Sharavathy reservoir will come at the cost of farmers in the area. “The dam is filled with silt, and its capacity is not enough to cater to the irrigation needs of farmers in the area,” he said.

It isn’t just water that the city tends to suck from other places. It is growth is fuelled by resources derived from elsewhere, says Bhargavi Rao, from Environmental Support Group (ESG). “Projects such as the elevated corridor require sand, which is excavated from nearby places. To provide electricity to the city, land belonging to small and marginalised farmers are being converted into solar parks. Farmers are often left in dismal conditions,” she said.

S.G. Vombatkere, a former major general and a professor at the University of Iowa, said policies of economic growth, which focus much of their energy on cities, overshadow those on water conservation.

“This focus on cities has encouraged an unsustainable pattern of migration,” says Prasanna, a threatre person and rural livelihood activist. “People migrate to the city because there is a belief that they get a better quality of life. We need to stop this. We need to change the mindset of villagers and tell them ‘that it’s ok to keep doing what you’re doing’, and we need to start respecting their way of life,” he said.

Lakes and rainwater

A.R. Shivakumar, a former scientist at Karnataka State Council of Science and Technology (KSCST) at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.), believes that Bengaluru needs to adopt large-scale rainwater harvesting to ensure it can sustain itself without being a drain on resources of the State. “We need long-term policies to start saving rainwater individually. If every household harvests rainwater, clean water can be provided to 40% of the city,” he said.

“Another key way for Bengaluru to retain water is to store it in lakes and tanks, which requires a series of long-term policies on conservation and short-term steps of adequate fund allocation,” says Anand Maligavad, a lake activist. “Rejuvenation of lakes is not being done ecologically. CSR funds and government allocations are used to build fences, jogging tracks and parks instead of ecologically rejuvenating the lake,” he said.


At a convention on excessive growth and water use, organised by Sharavati Nadi Ulisi Horata Okkuta along with other environmentalists, at Gandhi Bhavan in Bengaluru on Sunday, activists tabled and passed a resolution that includes a push for reverse migration by ensuring development in rural areas, a white paper on the resources being consumed by Bengaluru, restricting polluting industries and reviving lakes, and a sustainable water policy that does not involve diversion of rivers.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 2:14:54 AM |

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