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Editorial of the Day (8th Apr): Bengaluru and Cape Town-Water Crisis

Context: Bengaluru is grappling with acute water scarcity, reminiscent of Cape Town’s crisis (2015-18).

Cape Town’s Water Crisis (2015-2018): A Case Study

  • Cause: Prolonged drought and below-average rainfall.
  • Impact:
    • Critically low reservoir levels (e.g., Theewaterskloof Dam at 11.3% capacity).
    • “Day Zero” threat – potential complete cut-off of municipal water supply.
    • Strict water rationing (50 litres/day per person).
    • Increased reliance on public water points and tankers.
  • Recovery: By 2020, the situation had returned to normal.

Similarities Between Bengaluru and Cape Town

  • Low rainfall in key water source areas (Cauvery basin for Bengaluru).
  • Depleting groundwater reserves.
  • Critically low reservoir levels (e.g., KRS Dam at under 28% capacity).
  • Many public borewells are running dry.
  • Areas dependent on water tankers (Varthur, Marathahalli, etc.).

Role of Urbanisation

  • Rapid, unplanned urbanisation has strained water infrastructure in both cities.
  • Cape Town: Existing infrastructure struggled to keep up with demand, leading to leaks and inefficiencies.
  • Bengaluru: Loss of green cover (from 80% to 4%) and water bodies (from 1452 to 193) reduces water percolation.
    • Particularly problematic for East Bengaluru with tech parks and high-rise buildings.

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Impact on Daily Lives

  • Water restrictions implemented in both cities.
  • Cape Town: 50 litres/day limit, restrictions on car washing, etc.
  • Bengaluru: Similar restrictions on non-essential water usage (car washing, pools, etc.) with fines for violators.
  • Increased health risks for the poor due to lack of water for sanitation and hygiene.
  • Residents queuing up for water from public taps and tankers.

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