IT City Needs to Scan Water Crisis Virus: Dr Niranjan Hiranandani, National President, NAREDCO and and Sr. VP, Assocham

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4 July 2019 Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
Among the most stable and progressive real estate market in India, Bengaluru shall be hit by a Tsunami when media reports suggested the powers were considering a five year ban on new construction in the state. The announcement followed the acute water crisis surfaced upon at an alarming rate.

Water being an abundant but precious commodity has hit the scarcity mode. Across India, water scarcity amidst fast rising urbanization is a common factor. There is definitely the need to understand the problem, and also work out solutions. There are solutions which will reduce, if not totally alleviate, the challenge of water scarcity. Across Metro Cities in India, real estate projects have adopted these – and the results have been positive.

First and foremost, we need to reuse and replenish – sewage needs to be treated through sewage treatment plants (STPs) and the water can be re-used for washing, flushing, gardening as also for construction. When it comes to replenish, it is about rain water harvesting, which would charge the water table and enhance levels of water available in wells and similar water bodies. At the first level i.e. reuses, we are ensuring maximum usage from one unit of water through STPs, on the second level we are using rain water to charge the underground water table.

For a city like Bengaluru, these options can also be retrofitted in existing real estate properties, while it should be ensured that under construction projects incorporate both these right from the planning stage. These options are simple to implement and will go a long way in ensuring that the Garden City returns to ‘full bloom’ when it comes to being among India’s most stable and progressive real estate market.

The state government considering five year construction ban sounds bit harsh for the progressive industry. The city emerged as an ideal IT hub destination for suitable commercial real estate growth with supplementary residential development. There was a huge demand for new age tech savvy workspaces and housing to encompass the habitants. Being a city that has been successful in attracting new buyers/lessors of real estate cannot be the city’s fault, with such a harsh penalty being proposed.

For sake of argument, even if the ban is implemented, it is unlikely that the city’s water woes will find a quick solution. Apart from ‘reuse and recharge’ at the individual project levels, what is needed urgently is a sound water re-storage and water management system in place.

The other side of the argument stems from severe negative impact which the proposed five year ban on new construction will have. If we consider that demand for homes in Bengaluru is huge; then reduced new supply will result in increased property prices. It also means that demand – and price – of ready possession properties will go up significantly. Housing in Bengaluru will become unaffordable for the vast number of home seekers who are waiting for their dream home to become a reality. From an economic scenario too, it will result in job losses, reduced offtake of construction materials like cement, steel and so on: the impact will be severe.

Given this probable scenario, the suggestion to deal with the water crisis is that the powers- need to take immediate course corrective measures to conserve water, manage water resources and ensure that rainwater harvesting as also recycling of water through STPs is strictly implemented. It would also be a positive step, if the many lakes across the city are revived. A ban on new construction might not be a viable solution to solve the crisis.

Dr. Niranjan Hiranandani is Founder & MD, Hiranandani Group. His new venture is Hiranandani Communities. He is President (Nation), National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO), which works under the aegis of Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs, Government of India.