BENGALURU: Asked about the abrupt termination of Raginii Jaain’s work, Engineer Member PN Nayak alleged, “She promised that all foam would be checked in Bellandur within 24 hours. It has not happened. It did not happen even after 48 or even 72 hours. How long can we continue with it? I am answerable to the public.” Raagini counters this charge: “I clearly told the BDA that within a day or two, the foam level would start reducing. It would require a week to 10 days for all the foam and stench to go away.”
When pointed out that even locals had acknowledged an obvious reduction in foam levels, Nayak stressed, “After the foam touched 10 to 15 feet high on August 14 and 15, BDA installed 16 sprinklers. This caused the impact and reduced the foam. As of now, the foam is only one feet high.”
BDA is in the process of installing 12 more sprinklers. “It will all be fixed by Tuesday around the lake. There will be no more foam at Bellandur lake after that.” Asked why the BDA had not attempted such a quick solution in the last two years when the lake frequently frothed, Nayak said, “Earlier, BWSSB was tasked with the responsibility. Since they have not done anything so far, we took on the responsibility recently and installed the sprinklers.” Commissioner Rakesh Singh, on his part, said he wanted to discuss the attempt to clean the lake by Jaain using organic culture with the state government-constituted expert committee on Monday but could not do so due to meetings all day.
Meanwhile, experts feel BDA mismanaged the issue by first not ascertaining the expert’s credentials properly before roping her in and later by not giving her adequate time to finish her work.
Muralidhar Rao of advocacy group Praja, which filed a PIL along with two organisations before the NGT against a Special Economic Zone coming up on the wetlands of Bellandur Lake, says, “BDA has handled the whole thing in a totally amateurish way. Before entrusting the expert with this responsibility, her credentials had to be assessed thoroughly. However, if the BDA has decided to engage her, then she needs to be given a real, proper chance. You cannot tell her to pack up and leave in a day after she begins her work.“
He also countered the argument that sprinklers can solve the issue. “This issue largely pertains to effluents. Sprinklers can reduce foam for a few hours or days. This is only an ad hoc measure. Cleaning the Bellandur Lake is major job and a professional organisation like the IISc should be engaged to help in handling it,” Rao said.Yellappa Reddy, member of the expert committee on Bellandur Lake, said, the expert has no knowledge of the problem and has not spent time studying it.