Water : Too much or Too Little?

In a country like India it isn’t news that resources are kept at the doorstep for some and kept at the horizon for others. The rich and poor divide isn’t just theory around the nation, it’s a daily sight for everybody. Nobody really knows who to blame but it’s time we look into the logistics of the same.

The city of Bangalore acts as a crucial example for all that’s wrong with the entire country considering it’s the IT hub as well as the ‘Garden City’. Over the city, there is almost some construction work going on every day – be it drains, potholes, footpaths, flyovers etc. What media fails to mention is that every time there is a “crisis management” it is almost never planned, this is because there is no central account kept of all the development projects. Which means that drains are fixed right after road construction is accounted for.

This brings the spotlight to the authorities who take immense pride in boasting about all the “development” they’ve been aiding. The state has no ‘single/central plan’ for wholesome improvement which means they continue to invest millions from the treasure called ‘tax’ unthinkingly and this is problematic.

There are only a few things that are more problematic than improper management of resources, (which can be discussed on a later work) the most recent concern has been that revolving water. For a planet that is 2/3rd water we sure have a lot of water related concerns, this means both abundance and scarcity of the matter can kill the entire human race and for the same reason is something that should be written about.

In recent news, India has experienced floods in Karnataka and Kerala, two states where there were zero precautions taken for the same on a practical level. This is a result of inexperience on crisis and disaster management which is not a limited to “reaction” but also pro action. This includes coming up with a proper detailed safeguarding plans which ensure that any future disasters will cause minimal damage.  Which is absent in the present development cells.

Lets look at Bangalore City

The metropolitan city that hugs multiple cultures has drains almost at every nook and corner but the question is :

  1. Where do they meet?
  2. How is sewage treated?
  3. Are drains maintained regularly?
  4. How often are the drains blocked?
  5. Do the drains help during heavy rains?
  6. How effective are the road plans with regard to drains?
  1. Where do they meet?

These are all problems that end with revelation of the harsh reality. In practice, the locals almost always complain about how the drains  meeting up with lakes and ponds thereby polluting whatever water resources are available. This further leads to health issues and a larger problem of water scarcity.

India has not had the luxury of planning cities but Chandigarh, the shared capital of Punjab and Haryana stands as a classic example of why it should be popular and implemented.

For any piece of land to hold commercial and livelihood standards, a plan is essential. A systematic distribution of elements, a proper treatment of waste water along with other resources is a game changer for any economy.

In the city of Chandigarh not only is the commute planned but also the flow of drinking water, sewage and water bodies.  Bangalore, on the contrary rarely even carries out maintenance work for the existing drain networks. This just results in clogged drains, overflowing of water on a light downpour, scavenging and a fundamental destruction of all road or land projects.

The drains in the city usually pollute water bodies; a typical example is that of the foaming news of Bellandur lake. Other small towns usually have to wait for the local government inspections to even bring the problem to attention and then the wait for an actual situation takes another decade.

Most of the people are unaware of the pollution of water. This is typical of cities were overcrowding is a growing concern. This means high risks of communal diseases and damage beyond control.

  • How is sewage treated?

The bbmp along with all other state municipals have slight to no clue about waste water. This isn’t a local issue, it’s a national issue considering almost to state treats their waste water is a resourceful manner. The grey water is never flittered and sent for irrigation nor is it sent for treatment. Which means that we continue to exploit water until we can complain about its unavailability.

The sewage doesn’t collect in one big area, it is disseminated at various spots and because the covered drains are usually blocked due to the ignorance of the citizens, who take much pride in throwing out their garbage into the nearest water body, it isn’t surprising that treating this water would take a lot of effort.

Having stated that, other than private hotels and some companies, there is no real public sewage treatment plants. Most of the sewage is diverted to the lesser populated parts of the city, a disaster of a idea.  [https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/why-bengalurus-sewage-treatment-plants-may-never-be-enough-city]

  • Are drains maintained regularly?

The city has closed drains, which is admirable but these drains have slots for the water to run in which are very conveniently always blocked therefore cancelling out the very purpose of the drains. A simple way to avoid this and many other damages is by maintaining what we’ve already invested in. 

This doesn’t mean waiting for the rainfall to dig up freshly constructed roads in order to fix clogs. This means a regular check on the drains, proper filtering of waste, designing roads in favour of the flow and using assertive methods to ensure people aren’t throwing around garbage wherever they want.

  • How often are the drains blocked?

To clearly understand this, one can refer documentaries like “This is how we do it: cleaning a sewage.”  In simple words, drains in the country are blocked by a range of things like – construction waste, heavy plastic, cans and sometimes even dead animals.

In Delhi, the major internal stormwater drains were were caused by garbage, so much that TOI carried the news.  [https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/most-internal-stormwater-drains-blocked-by-garbage/articleshow/]

In the city of Bangalore, as depicted in the picture attached, the drains are blocked by as small as tea cups to unmanaged plastic.

The problem comes when we realise how quickly our drains block. MG road, the primary spot in the city were maintenance work isn’t as rare as the rest of it, drains get clogged the very hour after BBMP clears out waste. This indicates that citizens are just as responsible for clogged drains.

  • Do the drains help during heavy rains?

The city is currently experiencing a late monsoon, thanks to global  warming and the general ignorance around environment. What is worse than unnaturally heavy rain? Rain with nowhere to go. This is one of the reasons drains were built in the first place around commuting areas. Taking a drive around the city during a downpour accounts for the quality of the rains, not only does the water have no escape (due to blocks) but the water from the drains comes right out. This is because of the point mentioned in the introduction – improper management of resources. As the roads and drain maintenance is done without central plan, the roads are no longer slant slightly towards the drains but are the other way around. This is clearly evident in some parts of the city, thereby, yet again, cancelling out its very purpose, which is the sixth point of the argument made.

This ignorant use of water that is used and of the usable rainwater is to be looked upon while we complain of both water scarcity and floods. Planning the use and reuse of our resources sustainably will not only minimize our present chaos but also safeguard our future. The city of Bangalore represents all cities in the nation, one can only imagine the damages caused in areas with lesser commercial value.

Here are some images taken through smart phone while observing the water chaos in and around the city.

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