IT giant Bangalore or call it Bengaluru, globally ranked among the top cities to launch tech start-ups, was severaly affected by heavy downpour these past few days and hundreds of citizens had to be evacuated as their houses and roads were badly flooded.
Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Tons Trails, Tons Valley Shop and Kalap Trust, Anand Sankar Wednesday 7 September has tweeted and slapped a question mark that hangs on the authorities who have allowed the destruction of this great city on the pretext of development and to cater to the housing needs of what is now a Megapolis.
Responding to a topographic map of Bengaluru, Anand Shankar has tweeted “… This floodplain data was available in paper maps for almost half a century. Still… This land was allowed to be converted for building purposes.”
Since Anand Sankar’s tweet caught our attention and we found the pointer most relevant, we scanned through his earlier tweets on the latest flood situation. We came across another of his tweet of 5 September and his thread on the same tweet most revealing. We are republishing what Anand Sankar has put across in the public domain for the sake of wider dissemination and in larger public interest.
Annd Sankar Writes: “What’s the ‘city with best weather in India’ gotta do with Bangalore drowning in floods today and every single time the city faces a massive downpour…”
In his thread, Anand Sakar goes on to write:
Back when I was a young and broke journalist in 2004, I saw the city expanding breakneck around me. Then one day I came across a report on surface water around Bangalore (can’t remember whose report it was) while researching about groundwater scarcity in the city.
The report took me down the veritable rabbit hole of how water flows in and around Bangalore City. It had all those beautiful maps with valleys, rivers, streams, nullahs, lakes etc… After I was done using it for the groundwater story, I dug further…
This was one of those thankless and reckless pursuits which only young, idealistic and broke journalists do. Me along with our team photographer (Ravindra Nayak) fuelled up my Honda Dio scooter to find surface water around Bangalore. Over 45 days, I spent Rs. 8000…
On petrol while on a Rs. 5000 salary.
I had caught the bug of finding out where exactly Bangalore gets water from and where does it all flow afterwards. Even when you flush your toilet in Bangalore, the water has to flow somewhere towards the ocean right?
Anyway for 45 days, whenever my boss looked for me, I was out chasing my magnum opus on lakes and etc in Bangalore along with the photographer. What I found in those days, circa 2004, about 50% of lakes and wetlands were already missing or on the verge of being usurped.
I noticed an insidious truth when I correlated what I was seeing on the map with what I was seeing on the ground. Land was being sold at exorbitant prices to new residents of the city with them unaware that they are only going enjoy the pitfalls of Bangalore’s great weather.
If you look at Bangalore as the old city from its inception, the old areas and suburbs that were added till say the early 1990s. They are all almost perched up in the plateau that the city is and as growth pushed outward, it started following the…
Flow of water from this plateau and around the city.
In the old days while residents of small Bangalore enjoyed it’s forever sweater weather, the lands around it well nourished by precipitation and flowing water, supplied it’s residents with fresh vegetables, fruits, what not.
In my childhood almost of today’s Bangalore suburbia was vegetable farms, rice fields, banana plantations… Almost everything that required lots of water.
Then the city caught up and started swallowing everything.
The greedy sold wetlands to the gullible who came seeking Bangalore’s great weather. A few voices like mine wrote about this in futility. There is still a department called Lake Development Authority I think in Bangalore.
It had one bureaucrat by the name of one Mr AK Varma. Once I asked him pointedly what is there to ‘develop’ in the city’s lakes, when you should be named Protection Authority. Anyway soon I realised this was one of those departments which will ‘beautify’ 5 lakes while 50 are lost
The gullible bought land, more and more. In 2006, we, a middle class family had to also ‘invest’ in the Bangalore property rat race. I was off again on my motorcycle scouting the many new developments, each promising one version of Nirvana.
That awful sick feeling, when you visit these projects and realise where they all stood in maps that I knew by memory by then. Long fights with my family convincing them it’s a stupid idea to ‘invest’ in these places when they will be flooded one day.
Common arguments from friends and family back then, I was making too much of nothing. Every new development looks ‘kaccha’ but it will all soon ‘improve’ and as will your property’s worth, so you grab what is available! Fast.
I was unmoved. Somewhere I played the card that if I was to inherit the property at some time, I should have a say.
It took 4-5 months of hunting and I finally found something in our budget, not too away from the city and most importantly, what I knew was relatively high ground
Today Bangalore is a megapolis, with the single factor that has attracted the lakhs of its new inhabitants – great weather.
Well folks, you are all living in the path of what happens when that great weather is enjoyed in old small Bangalore.
There are unfortunately no shortcuts or quick fixes to fix this now. With climate change and heavier intensity precipitation becoming a norm in Bangalore now, it is only going to get worse. You have built right in valleys and floodplains and accelerated run off with concrete.
The losses will mount. I myself personally know people who have lost or paid heavy to repair cars submerged in underground garages for 3-4 consecutive years now. That is a loss of upwards of ₹1 lakh per car per year.
The losses to business and Bangalore’s economy is incalculable. The Chief Minister of Karnataka finally seems to be acknowledging this.
But what about the city’s reputation? It’s shot for good. Good weather is now a curse for the majority of it’s population.