Amidst rolling, rollicking verdant hills and valleys, the Bangalore South constituency is still home to 28 lakes and tanks, at least on paper. But if one is actually looking for their health status, it has to be seen through the microcosm of rapid urbanisation and development in this constituency, in the past decade when it was purely a rural belt. Except for three to five lakes, today, the rest are in a state of acute thrombosis; encroached, dumped and swallowed by residents, realtors and builders. With BBMP taking up Dorekere, Uttarahalli and Maghe Lake for development, the rest it seems, will have to wait for their turn.
City Express takes a look at one of the lakes, the Uttarahalli Kere, which is considered very important and relevant for the preservation of water bodies, and is therefore undergoing major revival efforts by the BBMP, United Ways of Bengaluru, volunteers and donors.
Suresh Nair, United Ways of Bengaluru, says, "Unfortunately, in the case of Uttarahalli Lake, we have not been successful in putting together a strong community, and as a consequence, the progress has been much slower than at other lakes. Despite this, there has been some success such as fencing of the lake and building and commissioning of a sewage treatment plant, although the plant has not been working fully."
On the other hand, BBMP claims that most of the works have been completed and the results of the revival efforts would be visible in the next monsoon.
As one enters Uttarahalli Circle and takes a sharp right turn towards the road going to Kengeri, a huge 'water body' emerges, surrounded by stationary lorries and private buses. At first glance it looks like a place full of weeds and sewage. The 12-acre lake, now under BBMP's management, is still full of the dreaded hyacinth plant and other weeds with not even a semblance of being a water body to onlookers.
An old time resident, Seetaram says, "More than a decade back, we used to see a lot of fishing and boating activities here. The water was so clean that fishes thrived in this lake. It was a hub for pelicans, cranes, ibis, kingfishers, etc. with two islands in the midst of the lake. But with construction of huge apartment blocks not only in the front but also around its periphery, sewage and waste dumping started and ultimately, the lake dried up."
But has the ground reality changed for the better after the revival project began two years back? According to local residents, the fencing and the construction of a walker's pathway had indeed helped to protect the lake from further deterioration. "Now we have got a green space for relaxation and recreation. But the stench of the sewage from the lake is unbearable while the lake periphery has become a parking zone," added Ramya Bhat, an HR professional.
It has been two years since the project started and with 90 per cent of the works completed till date, the residents of Uttarahalli area will have to wait one more year to see the lake filled up with rainwater. "Two years back, we saw complete desiltation, construction of embankments, walker's pathway and planting of saplings. But only this year, the BBMP has been serious enough to divert the sewage water but more needs to be done. And only next year, we will know whether these efforts will be enough to bring back water to this weed filled lake," stressed Narayan Murthy.