India’s Silicon Valley Faces Man-Made Water Crisis

Once known as India’s garden city for its lush green parks, Bengaluru was built around a series of lakes created to form rainwater reservoirs and prevent the precious resource from draining away.

Every day more than 1,000 water tankers rumble past Nagraj’s small plywood store in Bengaluru, throwing up clouds of dust as they rush their valuable cargo to homes and offices in the drought-stricken tech hub.

Gleaming new apartment blocks are still springing up all over Bengaluru, known as India’s Silicon Valley, even though there is nowhere near enough mains water to supply those already living and working there.

Many rely entirely on supplies shipped in by tankers filled from giant borewells that have caused groundwater levels to plummet, sparking predictions Bengaluru could be the first Indian city to run out of water.

“There is a severe scarcity of water here,” said Nagraj, 30, who moved to the suburban neighbourhood of Panathur a decade ago and has seen it transformed by rampant construction.

“The future will be very difficult. It is impossible to imagine how they will find water, how they will live. Even if we dig 1,500 feet (450 metres) down, we are not getting water.”

Panathur lies next to Bangalore’s biggest lake, Bellandur, which provides a poignant reminder that things weren’t always like this.

Once known as India’s garden city for its lush green parks, Bengaluru was built around a series of lakes created to form rainwater reservoirs and prevent the precious resource from draining away.

Lakes on fire

Many lakes have now been concreted over to build apartment blocks with names like Dream Acres and Strawberry Fields to house the workers who have flocked here during India’s outsourcing boom.

Many of those lakes that remain are heavily polluted. Bellandur has become so toxic it spontaneously catches fire, and emits clouds of white froth so large authorities have had to build barriers to keep it from spilling onto the road.

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