Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Real(tor) rush for money

Real(tor) rush for money
But where is But where is the water? the water?


BANGALORE:The Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) is today a functioning entity. Housing projects are mushrooming in and aroundthe tiny town of Devanahalli like never before.Realtors big and small have lined up a slew ofmega projects, beckoning interested buyers bythe hundreds. Yet, a critical issue looms largeover the future of these projects: An acuteshortage of water.

Thanks to the hundred plus projectsplanned, the green orchards of mango, sapotaand geo-indicator fruit Chakotas (pomplemoose) around Devanahalli are bound to become concrete jungles. But with absolutely nowater source,the future of these projects hangsin balance and also the fate of the buyers whohave already bought the land.

According to the locals,most of the realtorsare in a hurry to make money by forming theplots and allocating them to the buyers. Catering to them, several middle class investors aremaking a beeline to own a patch of propertyhere. “ It seems they just want business muchbefore the project is approved.They have a simple trick: Perform a bhoomi puja by inviting aVVIP and display a blue print. Once the investors feel it is attractive, they will invest inspite of the fact that the ground water hasdipped below 1000 feet here,” said Ramesh, afarmer from Shivanapura.

With no rivers or water bodies in the vicinity, the place has been declared as ‘grey’ by thedepartment of mines and geology.Yet,this hasnot deterred the developers since most projectsare coming up in places like Sadahalli, just adjacent to NH 7,Singahalli adjoining cargo road,Arebanni Mangala,south of BIA,Doddakanneand Chikkakanne, North of Airport, Chennahalli and Boodihalli on Sulebele road and B KPalya near NH 7. “Even the farm lands withvineyards and vegetables are not spared,” saidMunegowda,a resident of Boodihalli.

According to the villagers,most of these realtors are big names who claim to have obtained clearance from Bangalore InternationalAirport Project Authority and BMRDA. “Butwe still do not know how much truth is in it.Weknow that there should be a clearance from several government agencies because this place isstill in green zone,”said Sudhakar,a resident ofDevanahalli. “ Within a week I have seen twoprojects where work was going on,”he added.


Interestingly, the Karnataka State PollutionControl Board (KSPCB), the agency whichclears the projects says, “There are just threeprojects awaiting clearance before us, a villawith golf course,a 130-room hotel near the airport and a 320-acre project of KSIIDC. Apartfrom this, no project is awaiting clearancehere,” said Dr Sharathchandra, ChairmanKSPCB.

He said that even these pending projects willbe approved only if they show the water source and get a no objection certificate from CentralGround Water board,as per the rules of UnionMinistry of Environment.

The method

The KSPCB norms apply to those projectsabove 10 acres.But most of the builders have either just announced the project to make moneyor they adopt another route by obtaining clearance from BIAPA, which needs to approve theproject by ensuring a water source after inspecting it.

Water crisis

Water experts in Devanahalli are predictingasevere crisis of water in future,since the fastdepleting ground water will not be able to withstand the anthropogenic pressure, which isbound to double by 2015 due to the new international airport.

According to them the situation is so grimthat the depleting ground water has forcedmany a farmer to give up agriculture here andsink down further.

But with the BWSSB strictly saying no tosupply water to the town other than the airport,the question arises as to how the water requirement will be met.



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