Vietnam faces $3bn annual crop losses from rising saltwater levels

Vietnam faces $3bn annual crop losses from rising saltwater levels
Vietnam faces $3bn annual crop losses from rising saltwater levels

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - NEW DEHLI: Millions of people in India’s tech hub of Bengaluru are facing an unprecedented water crisis as a key supply of the resource runs dry, in what experts said is a result of unplanned urbanization in the southern metropolis. 

The city also known as Bangalore and more popularly as India’s “Silicon Valley” is located in Karnataka state and is home to thousands of IT companies, startups and international firms like Infosys and Alphabet’s Google. It requires about 2 billion liters of water for its 14 million residents every day. 

More than 70 percent of the city’s population relies on the Cauvery River that originates in the state, but around 4 million other residents who live on the outskirts of the city are dependent on groundwater extracted by borewells and supplied via tankers, which have been running dry after last year’s weak monsoon depleted groundwater levels. 

“In those areas where the public supply of water is dependent on borewells, there we are facing problems because borewells have gone a bit dry,” Tusar Giri Nath, chief commissioner of the Greater Bengaluru Municipal Corp., told Arab News on Sunday. 

“The shortfall is around 15 to 20 percent from the earlier time, and that is being managed by increasing the portable water supply to the places by supplying through tankers.” 

Vivin Andrews, a resident of the city’s Hennur area, has had to pay extra money for a private tanker to supply water to his home every two days. 

“I have lived in this city all my life and my family has been here for generations, but this type of situation has not occurred before,” Andrews told Arab News. 

“We need to make the government accountable and should stop mindless building activities without bothering about the capacity of the city.”

Sandeep Anirudh, a civil society activist and the convenor of Citizens’ Agenda for Bengaluru, said that there is an element of climate change exacerbating the current situation, as the shortage of rainfall last year impacted the Cauvery River and the underground water. 

“But this situation arose because we covered our lakes that used to store water for the city and feed the ground … Bengaluru is facing an existential crisis because of the lack of planning and unplanned development over the decades,” Anirudh told Arab News. 

Bengaluru has undergone rapid urbanization since the early 1990s as its transformation into a major tech center resulted in exponential growth. 

For decades prior, it had a reputation for its wide network of man-made lakes that provided water to the city’s residents; an abundance of greenery, the surrounding forests and a pleasant climate had earned it the moniker “India’s garden city.” 

The city used to have around 2,000 lakes, Anirudh said, but only 400 are left today. 

“The people are now dependent on water supply through tankers to run their day-to-day life,” he added. 

Anupam Manur, an assistant professor at the Bengaluru-based think tank Takshashila Institution, said the price of mobile water, or water supplied through private tankers on wheels, has increased by more than 200 percent. 

“The water crisis in Bangalore is quite severe, though it is not manifested with the same intensity throughout the city. While the center of the city is coping, the periphery is facing the most acute shortages,” Manur told Arab News. 

Though environmental factors also played a role in the crisis, Manur said that “utter mismanagement” by the municipal and state governments is to blame, including uncontrolled urban sprawl, encroachment on the cities’ lakes and unregulated extraction of groundwater. 

“If the mismanagement issues are not addressed, this will become a recurrent problem and will only get aggravated with time. This can result in businesses moving out of the city and reduce the inflow of migrant population to the city,” he said. 

“Bangalore will find it impossible to remain India’s fastest-growing metropolis if it can’t provide water to its residents.” 

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