Thanks to continuous unplanned growth, Bengaluru’s land growth or concretisation has increased by 925 percent since 1970. And this essentially means the city is just getting worse by the day. One might tend to ignore it saying this all in a span of 40 years, but the fact is that the rate of growth has shot up drastically since liberalisation in the 1990s.
An extensive study on land use dynamics in Bengaluru, carried out using remote sensing data from Landsat satellites, by Dr.T V Ramachandra from Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and his colleague Dr. Bharath H Aithal shows that “Bengaluru is gradually becoming an unliveable city”. (As Ramachandra himself puts it).
1. The first chart shows how the wardwise population has increased over a decade.
2. Ramachandra says, “From 2000 to 2014, India’s silicon valley is rapidly losing its green cover with urbanisation having risen by 125 percent.” The two charts in this series show the changes in landscape of the Agara-Bellandur wetlands from 2000-2015.
3. According to a research “Spatial patterns of urban growth with globalisation” the city in from 1999-2014 urban land use has increased by 184%, vegetation has decreased from 45% to 8.4%. Water class has also decreased
in cover to 0.74%. Ramachandra says that satellite imagery showed that in 2014, Bengaluru, which currently has a population of 95 lakh, had just 14,78,500 trees.
“For every seven persons there is one tree. Based on age, every day one person exhales 540-900 grams of carbon dioxide and one hectare of trees takes in close to 8 ton of carbon dioxide. So based on that calculation every person needs 8 trees. So you can imagine how pathetic the situation is.”
125% increase in concretisation in Greater Bengaluru
4. Most Bengalureans would know of the unending lake issues that the city has been facing. Less than one percent of Bengaluru is covered by water bodies. The research shows that 54% of lakes were encroached for illegal buildings. Field survey of all lakes (in 2007) showed that nearly 66% of lakes were sewage fed, 14% surrounded by slums and 72% showed loss of catchment area.
5. Ever wondered what happens in Chennai during the monsoons can happen in Bengaluru too? Encroachment of natural drains, topography change caused by constructions, removal of green cover, depletion of wetlands are the prime reasons for frequent flooding even during normal rainfall post 2000 in the city. While the first figure in the series shows how sparsely vegetation is distributed across Bengaluru, the second figure vegetation wardwise. Many wards in the central areas obviously need to make an immediate action plan to increase vegetation.
78% of green cover has been lost over a decade.
One can’t really say whether the IT sector has been good or bad for Bengaluru. The city over decades is been seen as the land of opportunities and diversity of job markets and especially the industrial sector (IT sector) in last couple of years, says Ramachandra.
“The IT sector has increased the influx of people from other states and the city is facing the brunt as it has to accommodate all of them. There has been no planned expansion at all,” Ramachandra said.