The issue of construction of building complexes and apartments on lake beds by builders and developers continues unabatedly in and around the city. But this time, ironically, the planners of the city, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) has developed and distributed sites that is right on a lake, the Venkatanarayana Lake, near Uttarahalli. Many people have also constructed their houses and are presently residing there. Will BDA now take measures to clear these allotted sites and restore the lake to its pristine glory?
T Sham Bhatt, BDA Commissioner said, “The layouts were formed and distributed in the year 2003 - 2004. The Lake Development Authority had not informed us about the existence of this lake till date. But as per the records, the present BDA layout was once a lake. Over 19 houses have already been built and many have put up the foundation for construction activities in the plots. It is a complex process to evacuate those residing due to financial obligations. We have to provide compensation to those who have already constructed buildings. The next course of action will be decided in the third round of meeting with the officials.”
Residents who have constructed their houses in this BDA allotted sites now fear displacement. “It was a Herculean task to buy this piece of land. As we did not know that the lake was reclaimed, we regret buying a plot here. Lakhs of rupees was spent on constructing the house, now we fear displacement. Though the government may provide an alternative site, we fear we may get a similar kind of site,” said Mallikarjuna (name changed), a resident.
On the one hand, if BDA has developed sites on the lake, a private builder has encroached a portion of the storm water drains of Subramanyapura lake in this area.
Though, this was one of the major sources of water for the residents in the vicinity, not even a fence was erected to protect this water body. Residents also complain that the Subramanyapura lake which was once in its pristine state is now filled with untreated sewage water let off by the nearby apartments .
When asked about the construction of the buildings on the storm water drains, he said, “Over 123 lakes have been handed over to the BDA for maintenance purposes. Tenders have been called for. Firstly, the Revenue department has to evacuate the encroachers and then only, we will take up the maintenance activities.”
Regarding the role of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on the allotment and distribution of sites, K Ramesh Raju, corporator of Uttarahalli ward said, “A letter to BBMP Commissioner was submitted over one and a half years ago to address the issue regarding the lake encroachment. But the then commissioner just promised to take a look at the issue. As the BDA itself has encroached upon the land, an alternative solution would be provided for those who have bought the sites here but it is yet to be discussed.
With respect to Subramanyapura lake, we will soon take up fencing activities and a Raja Kaluve will be built to connect it to the Venkatarayana lake for restoring the pristine beauty of this lake.”