BENGALURU : After a human chain, hunger strike, lake utsav and written complaints to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Pallike (BBMP) and the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA), protesting residents were promised that KR Puram Lake would soon return to its former glory – not contaminated with sewage and garbage. Some officials also joined in to show support during the hunger strike last year. Residents were promised that the encroachment would be taken care of by June. However, commuters and residents still cover their noses today, owing to the growing stench.
"In the past two to three months, the stench has become unbearable. Commuters waiting at the signal on the National Highway can't bear being near the lake for the 110-second duration. Sewage has been leaking into the lake for several years, and the BBMP has been using it as an unofficial garbage segregation point for the last one year. We have been hearing evasive replies about improvement from authorities, including MLA Basavaraj," says MS Shankar, a resident of the area.
Since the highway is the only way to the get to the city for work, Shankar, and others have no choice but to deal with the foul smell each day. He attributes contamination of untreated sewage flowing in to the inefficient sewage treatment plant nearby. Recently, Purushottam, president of citizen group KR Puram Rising, was fed up by this inaction, and decided to take matters into his own hands. He spent around `3,000 and got some of the garbage removed. He says, "People have stopped using the lake for jogging or any other activity. The last time I saw it clean was 20 years ago. It used to be the natural resource for ground water recharge, but is dead now."
He adds that small islands of sewage sediment have formed in the water body. "The garbage dumping is done right along the fence, which is three feet away from the water. If there is a strong gust of wind, garbage flies into the lake," he says. The fact that he is still hopeful of change is evident when he says that he makes two to three rounds every day to check the status of the lake.The residents say their local corporator, K Poornima, has been unable to solve the issue.
Third time's a charm?
Poornima tells CE, "We called tenders twice for the diversion of sewage, but only one bidder took part in it. We will call it once more, and as per the BBMP, a single bidder can be awarded the contract if it is the third call.”The tender will be called after 15 to 20 days, once they hand over the maintenance and upkeep of this lake from the LDA to the Forest Department. As for the garbage transfer point, Poornima says, "We have been unable to find an alternative transfer point. I requested the LDA for space behind an upcoming park near this lake, but they disagreed.”However, Seema Garg, CEO of KLCDA, says, "It is difficult to find an alternate garbage transfer point. The ward is overpopulated. The space behind the park cannot be used for garbage, as it is not in the buffer zone, but part of lake itself.”