We might still have a few years to go till the apocalypse, but the signs are all too clear. India’s major cities are slowly rupturing, the cracks giving way to terrifying glimpses into what our future holds. The destruction and depletion of our water, our air – the very things that give us life – is bound to have tragic consequences. 

As exploitative as our relationship with our natural resources has been though, we might just be able to take measures to replenish it if we act soon. And that action starts with awareness of the problems we face.


Four of Chennai’s main water reservoirs have run dry and its groundwater levels are dismally low, leaving the city completely parched. 

Hotels, hostels, offices and restaurants have had to shut down due to the acute shortage of water. 

From June 1 to 19, there was a rainfall deficit of 99% in Chennai. This, combined with poor water management left Chennai in a massive crisis.


Private water tankers, which have been the only recourse for Chennai residents, have been charging exorbitant fees, further adding to the people’s woes. Despite this, they are forced to stand in line for hours to get water. 

In villages, people are being chosen by draw of lots to collect water from community wells.


Then there was the recent report by the NITI Aayog about the capital’s own water woes. Delhi will in all likelihood run out of groundwater by 2020. Predictably, population growth has been one of the main reasons for this. However, failure to implement sustainable water harvesting resources has also contributed to it. 

In fact, 90% of Delhi is at a semi-critical or critical level in terms of groundwater. 


If it’s not the water however, it’s the air that’s working like slow poison in Delhi. 

To say that its air quality is terrible is no exaggeration – Delhi literally has the worst air quality in the world, according to a report by the WHO.

The capital was found to have a heavy presence of PM10 particulate matter – 292 micrograms per cubic meter. The annual safe limit set by the WHO is 60. 


Moving on to the Maximum City, there’s the unmanageable problem of the monsoons. The frequent deluges that seem to be just getting worse. 

The most recent Mumbai downpour has brought the city to a standstill, with schools and offices shutting shop and people being advised to stay indoors.

21 people died in a wall collapse in the city, while 14 others died in rain-related incidents. The death toll in Maharashtra has now risen to 35.


Rail, air, and road traffic has been severely affected in Mumbai, with a massive number of flights being cancelled. Most flights have also been delayed for extended periods. 

There was even a suspension of operations on the main runway after an aircraft skidded


Then there’s Bengaluru. Who can forget the 10-foot-high toxic foam that spews from its lakes every time it rains?

Yeah, the weather there might be great, but the pollution, the maddening traffic situation, and the rent has made even this city difficult to manage. 


Considering everything above, it’s pertinent to question if cities like Delhi and Mumbai are becoming unlivable. One is the country’s capital and the other is our financial capital – but what’s the use of fancy tags if there’s no practical way to survive in these places?

It really makes you question how long India’s urban centres have. Going at our current pace, the infrastructure of urban India looks set to collapse. At the rate our population is exploding, these places will soon be unable to provide. 


The need of the hour is a major overhaul of how we live. The way we use water, our reliance on plastic, our lax infrastructure to deal with disaster. Things need to change, and soon, otherwise we won’t have an urban India to save.