BENGALURU: The fire at Bellandur lake on Saturday morning was a deja-vu moment. This is the second time I saw the lake ablaze and this time it was more alarming than the previous incident. The road that leads to the lake, a rough path, had already made way for several fire tenders on Friday. When I reached there to take stock on Saturday morning, fire personnel were busy dousing the flames and the situation was quite tense. The billowing of smoke, jets of water, ash sediments in the air - nothing had changed from the last time. If anything, it had only worsened.
As people stopped to see the fire fighters at work, their reaction changed by the minute - a mixture of surprise, disappointment and frustration. The farmers who utilise the lake’s resources and worship it said they were appalled by the government’s neglect. Forced to watch fire fighters wade through several mounds of garbage and waste to reach the fire, locals rued what the once beautiful lake had turned into. “Last year, I shrugged it off after they stopped the fire and termed it our misfortune. I’m not sure what to call it this time. We use natural resources and to see it go up in flames and turn to ashes is just infuriating,” Somesh, a resident said.
Bellandur’s small farming community uses the lake and the area around for grazing their cattle. I spoke to Venkatesh, a third generation farmer living in the vicinity about the accusations that his community had started the fire. He was crestfallen and replied, “It is because of the government’s neglect that our lake is in this condition. They took no action the first time. How can we be blamed for their laxity?” The last time authorities inspected the area in monsoon, sprinklers were installed to control the volume of the toxic froth. I remember seeing blissfully unaware children who played with the froth thinking it was soap bubbles.
At the same spot today, I saw a raging fire on one side and choking fumes on the other. A year would have been enough to address the problem, but nothing has been done.