New-building ban mulled for drought-hit Bengaluru

The government of the drought-hit Indian state of Karnataka is considering a five-year ban on building any new apartment blocks in its capital Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) because of water shortages.

The city, nicknamed India’s Silicon Valley, has grown fast in the last two decades, but many residents rely on water tankers for drinking and sanitation, and the government says developers are building apartments without adequate water supplies.

"Rampant use of tanker waters had led to residents falling ill with many health problems," deputy chief minister G Parameshwara told reporters last month, adding government would discuss the issue with builders and developers before taking a decision.

According to The Times of India, the minister said a five-year ban was needed "because a large number of apartment buildings have been constructed in the city and sold to people without ensuring adequate drinking water supply".  

Shares in some property firms plunged on the news, reports Economic Times.

Developers were said to have expressed shock at the statement, calling it a knee-jerk reaction.

Bengaluru is not alone. According to the Global Drought Observatory, the entire Indian peninsula is facing a severe drought due to a combination of monsoon failure in the second half of 2018, sustained heatwaves between May and June 2019, and underperforming rainfall in the first half of this year.

It is, however, caught in a pincer of fast growth and failing water supplies, making it victim of its own success as a high-tech hub and a destination for big companies and start-ups alike.

Its population has grown from around 6.5 million in 2001 to an estimated 12.3 million in 2017.

Image: Bengaluru skyline at night (Saad Faruque/CC BY 2.0)

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