Last month, when Monika Gupta was looking for a two BHK flat in Bengaluru, her property dealer did not expect the rather thorough interrogation she subjected him to with regards to the water supply infrastructure in the area. “Dealers were not giving specific answers. It is important for me to ask about these things. During my last stay at Hyderabad, water was a major problem and I do not want to face the same problem here in this new city,” said Gupta, who recently shifted her base from Hyderabad to Bengaluru.
With many of India’s most prominent cities reeling under a severe water crisis, water management and availability has become the top priority for the country’s real estate customers when scouting for a new home.
“One of the reasons I chose to buy a house in Noida instead of Gurugram was because of the perennial water crisis in Gurugram. This is not a small thing. Water is very important and we cannot dismiss something that impacts our day-to-day life,” Vivek Sabarwal, another homebuyer said.
This is forcing the government to take some tough decisions. Last week, Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka G Parameshwara announced that builders will soon have to give an undertaking revealing from where they plan to source potable water for apartment complexes they develop on Bengaluru’s outskirts.
“Apartment complexes are coming up everywhere and Bengaluru’s growth is unstoppable. The source of drinking water for apartment dwellers on the outskirts is the biggest concern. We want to resolve the issue by getting builders to reveal from where they plan to provide potable water. They (builders) can’t wash their hands of the responsibility by providing only borewell water,” Parameshwara said.
This has sent most builders in the market into panic mode. The Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India, Karnataka, has dismissed the measure, saying that it is the government which needs to provide potable water to every citizen and not builders.
The crisis is also hitting the construction sector hard.
For instance, the water crisis in Chennai and several other places in Tamil Nadu has impacted construction activity in the area severely, said realty sector executives. “We are not able to get good water fulfilling required quality parameters from the ground, hence we are forced to buy tanker water (delivered by tanker lorries) which is very costly and increases the cost of construction,” said Varun Manian, MD, Radiance Realty Developers.
The Chennai office of CREDAI has also expressed concerns over falling water levels, with many projects either stuck or delayed due to the crisis. However, buyers assert that the developers cannot shift the entire responsibility on to the government. “When they are planning a project, they have to plan everything. They cannot simply plan a project without considering from where the water will be supplied. While the government is accountable, discipline must be infused into developers too. They cannot shrug off the responsibility,” Monika added.