Revive lakes in Karnataka as per court orders, say experts

Mere civil works and beautification of lakes not the answer, they say
A view of the Vibhutipura Lake in Bengaluru | EXPRESS
A view of the Vibhutipura Lake in Bengaluru | EXPRESS

BENGALURU: Experts working with citizens and the state government have demanded that the agencies, including the BBMP, involved in the rejuvenation and beautification of lakes should implement the court orders on such works.

Referring to a report by Justice NK Patil committee, they said that water bodies’ zoning should be done accordingly. An official from the Pollution Control Board said, “Only surface works are undertaken by the agencies involved and priority is not given to improve the quality of water. Hence, incidents of fishkill are being reported. Most of the lakes are under E-category -- highly polluted and not fit for consumption and fish rearing.”

Last week, Minor Irrigation and Science and Technology Minister NS Boseraju held a meeting with various agencies on the works to be taken up. The minister directed the officials to follow court orders and start work before the onset of monsoon.

The minister, however, said that work on the lakes in the limits of the municipality and urban bodies will be taken up by the agencies. How the work should be implemented will be decided by them.
The minister said there are around 37,000 lakes in the state. Most of them are under panchayats, minor irrigation department, and urban local bodies. There are around 200 lakes under BBMP and the urban development department.

Vijaykumar Haridas, BBMP Chief Engineer (Lakes), said lake development works are being undertaken in different phases. In the first phase, the core works are taken up. “During 2022-23, Rs 250 crore was released for works on various lakes and another Rs 41 crore under the 15th Finance Commission. We need Rs 250-300 crore more for completing all works,” he said.

Ram Prasad from Friends of Lakes said the Justice Patil committee report states that lakes should be revived in zones-limnetic, littoral and benthic (shallow, mid-shallow and deep). But this is not done.
“Agencies look at lake works as an annual maintenance exercise. Only cosmetic beautification of lakes is being done. Construction of sewage treatment plants, sluice gates, diversion channels and other works are not strictly done. Designing, planning and even desilting works are not done properly,” he said.

Experts also pointed out that Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority’s (KTCDA) technical advisory committee should be revamped.

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