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Unplanned Urbanization Spurs Water Crisis in Bengaluru, IISc Study Reveals

An in-depth study conducted by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) sheds light on the alarming consequences of unplanned urbanization in Bengaluru, with concrete structures engulfing 93% of the city’s landscape. Over the past five decades, the city has witnessed a staggering 1055% increase in built-up areas, accompanied by a 79% decline in water spread areas and an 88% loss of vegetation.

This uncontrolled urban expansion has led to severe water scarcity, exacerbating existing challenges such as air pollution and resource inequity. According to Prof. TV Ramachandra from IISc’s Centre for Ecological Sciences, the dwindling water spread area, which has plummeted from 2,324 hectares in 1973 to just 696 hectares in 2023, is a primary contributor to the depletion of the groundwater table.

The study highlights the detrimental impact of encroachment and pollution on Bengaluru’s water bodies, with 98% of lakes encroached upon and 90% receiving untreated sewage or industrial effluents. This degradation has hindered groundwater recharge, exacerbating the city’s water woes.

Ramachandra also underscores the adverse effects of vanishing green cover on air quality and temperature regulation, emphasizing that the city’s current tree population is insufficient to sequester respiratory carbon. Remote sensing data reveals a stark reality: only 1.5 million trees support a population of 9.5 million in Bengaluru, indicating a critical imbalance between green cover and urbanization.

To address these pressing concerns, IISc has developed the Bangalore Information System (BUiS) and Bangalore Lakes Information System (BLIS), providing researchers and policymakers with essential tools to visualize urban dynamics, tree distribution, and ecologically sensitive areas. The system aims to raise awareness about the adverse effects of rapid urbanization and facilitate informed decision-making to mitigate its impacts.

As Bengaluru grapples with its evolving urban landscape, the findings underscore the urgent need for sustainable urban planning strategies to safeguard natural resources, mitigate pollution, and promote ecological resilience in the face of rapid urban expansion.


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