Urbanisation Gobbles Another Lake - The New Indian Express

Urbanisation Gobbles Another Lake

Published: 23rd March 2014 08:09 AM

Last Updated: 23rd March 2014 08:09 AM

“Swimming, dumping garbage, hunting wild animals and polluting the water in this lake is prohibited,” -- proclaims a green board in bold letters on the road that connects Desai Garden to Vallabhai Layout, near Vasanthpura on Kanakapura Road. The board, which identifies the area as Janardhankere, also describes the extent of the lake as 7 acres and 10 guntas. But strangely, there is no trace of the lake.

Except for a small patch where drainage water stagnates, the entire lake has vanished due to indiscriminate dumping of debris and construction waste. The locals have levelled the area around the board and use it for parking vehicles.

K Subbanna, a resident of the locality, said, “Some people told us that some buildings have come up within the lake’s boundaries and the officials concerned had issued notices to them. However, nothing has happened since then. I was also told that Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) is rejuvenating over 120 such lakes in the city.”

More than 250 of the 400-odd lakes that once existed and contributed effectively to the ground water recharge in the city, have vanished, just like Janardhankere. Even the existing lakes are in abysmal condition and are being destroyed by indiscriminate discharge of sewage into them and dumping of construction debris.

Instead of contributing to the ecology in and around them by aiding ground water recharge, these lakes are polluting the ground water. Various pollutants including nitrates, chromium, lead, manganese and other heavy metals have percolated into the aquifers and have rendered the ground water unfit for human consumption.

Environmentalist Suresh Heblikar said, “According to my knowledge, around 1,000 water bodies of different sizes existed in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike limits. Unfortunately, we are left with around 150 water bodies today. It is high time that the government and the people understand the importance of these lakes and do something to save them. Big builders have encroached upon vast tracts of lake beds and storm water drains in Varthur, Iblur and other places in connivance with some bureaucrats. Despite repeated appeals, the authorities concerned are not doing the needful.”

Suresh Nair, executive director of United Way of Bengaluru, an NGO that works to rejuvenate and maintain lakes, said, “People see encroaching lake beds as the easiest means of constructing a house in the city and they are confident that nothing will happen to them. They think the courts will stay the evacuation process and some or the other government will regularise their buildings by giving them title deeds. We should change that if the lakes are to be preserved.”

Lake Rejuvenation

The State government’s initiative to rejuvenate lakes seems to be lacking momentum. Of the 123 lakes that were identified and handed over to the BDA in different stages since 2009, only 13 are completely rejuvenated. The BDA is still unable to clear the encroachments in 22 lakes.

BDA commissioner T Sham Bhatt said, “We are corresponding with the departments concerned to clear the encroachments in the lakes. As the officials from the Revenue Department have agreed to survey the lakes and demarcate the encroachments in them we will launch a drive to clear the encroachments in the lakes immediately after the parliamentary elections.”

Lakes Polluted

As sewage continues to flow into Jakkur and Herohalli lakes, which are among the 13 that were rejuvenated by the BDA, they are polluted once again.  Suresh Nair says the government should rope in some NGOs and carry out a massive awareness campaign to educate the people around the lakes that were rejuvenated.

Need for Action

Despite all the drinking water projects that the government has undertaken, the city still relies on ground water for 20 per cent of its needs. Unless lakes are rejuvenated at the earliest by preventing them from getting polluted all usable ground water resources may soon get exhausted, warn experts.

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