They are now recreation spaces with less biodiversity activities
Lakes have been an integral part of the City for many years and easily accessible to the general public. However, a decade ago, certain lakes in the City were given to private firms on the PPP (private-public-partnership) model for maintenence and these have gradually become inaccessible to people, unless they pay a fee.
A study conducted by City-based ecologists has shown that privatised lakes are less accessible to the general public and are normally used for commercial purpose. The study states that public lakes support a greater diversity of traditional livelihood – for farmers who graze their cattle, dhobis washing clothes and for some religious ceremonies and recreational activities such as nature watching and art.
However, lakes under the PPP model are restricted for the public and are used for commercial gain by imposing a user fee or entry fee and at some lakes by even converting them into an amusement park.
The study covered three privatised lakes – Hebbal Lake, Nagavara Lake called Lumbini Gardens following privatisation, and K R Puram Lake or Vengaiahanakere (called Fantasy Lagoon or Hagalu Kanasina Kere following privatisation). Among public lakes, Rachenahalli Lake, Jakkur Lake and Kodigehalli Lake or Sadaramangala Lake were chosen for the study.
Field research was conducted between July and August 2012 by two ecologists, Hita Unnikrishnan and Harini Nagendra, and their article ‘Privatising the commons: Impact on ecosystems services in Bangalore lakes’ was published this year in Urban Ecosystems, a science journal.
The study chose one private and one public lake for the study. The Hebbal Lake was leased out to East India Hotels Ltd (Oberoi Group) for a period of 15 years in 2004. The Rachenahalli Lake, on the other hand, is a public lake which was recently restored. Even today, some people use Rachenahalli Lake for washing clothes.
Nagavara Lake in Bangalore North was leased out in 2004 to Lumbini Developers, following which the commercial park within its premises is called Lumbini Gardens. It has intensive commercial landscaping, including water sports, children’s play area and food court.
Laser shows are held on the lake premises restricting the biodiversity activities in the area. Jakkur Lake, on the other hand, is well protected and efforts are made to recharge groundwater.
Vengaiahanakere or K R Puram Lake in East Bangalore is part of Koramangala-Challaghatta Valley. It is also called Fantasy Lagoon (Hagalu Kanasina Kere) and was leased out in 2004 to Par C Limited.
The lake has been developed as a commercial park with specialised children’s area, food court, jogging path and boating area. Similarly, Kodigehalli Lake is accessible mainly through traditional bunds built by villagers.