Every day more than 1,000 water tankers rumble past Nagraj’s small plywood store in Bengaluru, throwing up clouds of dust as they rush their valuable cargo to homes and offices in India’s drought-stricken tech hub.
Gleaming new apartment blocks are still springing up all over the city known as India’s Silicon Valley – even though there is nowhere near enough mains water to supply those already living and working there.
Many rely entirely on supplies shipped in by tankers filled from giant borewells that have caused groundwater levels to plummet, sparking predictions Bengaluru could be the first Indian city to run out of water.
“There is a severe scarcity of water here,” said Nagraj, 30, who moved to the suburban neighbourhood of Panathur a decade ago and has seen it transformed by rampant construction.
“The future will be very difficult. It is impossible to imagine how they will find water, how they will live. Even if we dig 1,500 feet (450 metres) down, we are not getting water.”
Panathur lies next to Bengaluru’s biggest lake, Bellandur, which provides a poignant reminder that things weren’t always like this.
Once known as India’s garden city for its lush green parks, Bengaluru was built around a series of lakes created to form rainwater reservoirs and prevent the precious resource from draining away.