Bengaluru has lost 79% of its water bodies: Study

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TNN | Mar 3, 2016, 01.27 PM IST

Puducherry: Once bountiful, Bengaluru's lakes have shrunk drastically. Statistics back this. Over the years, the city has lost 79% of its water bodies. Chhattisgarh capital Raipur fares the worst in the country (80%) and Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh occupies the third spot (75%), a study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has revealed. Scientists blame rapid urbanization and lake encroachment for the loss.

Researchers from CSE shared the findings at a two-day workshop for journalists - the state of lakes and water bodies of southern India: threats, challenges, and opportunities. "Start conserving water bodies like lakes or get ready for disasters like the Chennai floods in the coming years," said experts.

The rate of urbanization has increased from 2.1% between 1991 and 2001 to 3.3% between 2001 and 2011; it's expected to grow to 18% from 2011 to 2031. To prevent floods, cities need more water bodies, which act like sponges and absorb rain. If they are neglected, it can lead to extreme rainfall, which can in turn cause floods.

Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE, said natural disasters like the Chennai floods occur once in 100 years. But due to decreasing sponges, their incidence may increase - they may occur once in 25 years or even five years. Since 2005, floods ravaged the maximum number of places in 2007 - 35 cities were affected, with Kolkata being the worst hit. In 2014, 17 cities witnessed floods and the situation is Srinagar was particularly bad.

Sushmita Sengupta, deputy programme manager of CSE's environment water programme, said urban planners should undertake a detailed mapping of water bodies, natural drainage and flood-prone areas in cities using remote sensing. A single authority for the management and restoration of water bodies is the need of the hour, she said.

On the Chennai floods, Sushmita said a study showed that most of the waterways in Chennai were choked with sludge and waste. Even studies done by the government reveal the waterways in Chennai carry both treated and untreated sewage and garbage.

(This correspondent was in Puducherry on the invitation of CSE, New Delhi)