Bengaluru flood
People use Coracle boats to move through a water-logged neighbourhood following torrential rains in Bengaluru, India, September 7, 2022. Image Credit: Reuters

Bengaluru: India’s Bengaluru city may need nearly 28 billion rupees ($339 million) to restore a drainage network damaged by unfettered urbanization as repeated floods threaten to disrupt work and life in the IT hub, a report said.

Dubbed India’s Silicon Valley for hosting more than 3,500 IT companies and startups, the city has seen an influx of millions of workers and a boom in real estate construction over the past two decades.

But that has come at a cost as construction around lakes and over stormwater drains has limited the city’s capacity to absorb and drain off water, resulting in unprecedented floods last year that disrupted the IT industry.

The report by global property consultancy Knight Frank projected a jump in the city’s population to 18 million by 2031 from an estimated 12.3 mln in 2021. The area within city limits more than tripled to 741 square kilometres in just 16 years up to 2011, according to data from BBMP, the city’s municipal body.

The report also said the city’s share of built-up area ballooned to 93% in 2020 from 37% in 2002, replacing green cover and putting “severe stress” on the natural drainage system that channelled water into the city’s interconnected lakes.

“For international clients, which Bangalore has the most in the country, such (floods) are seen as potential risks,” Rajeev Vijay, executive director for government and infrastructure advisory at Knight Frank India, said in an interview.

Climate change is inducing more short-duration, high-intensity precipitation, further heightening flooding risks, the report said, calling on the state government to formulate a stormwater management plan with key stakeholders.

“This flood issue is happening every year. Forget about every year, every time it rains,” said Shantanu Mazumder, executive director for Bengaluru at Knight Frank India.

That, however, has not dented the demand for real estate.

“Despite the last two years of flooding incidents, commercial real estate demand has only increased because the city has so much to offer,” Mazumder said.

An official at BBMP declined to comment.