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Panel formed to revive city's dying waterbodies, says K J George

DH News Service, Bengaluru, May 28 2017, 1:38 IST

DH Spotlight: Experts, officials discuss solutions for Bellandur, Varthur lakes

thinking minds: Usha Rajagopalan, Puttenahalli lake activist; Lakshman, KSPCB chairman; K J George, Bengaluru Development Minister; T V Ramachandra, Coordinator, Energy and Wetlands Research Group, IISc; P N Nayak, member Engineer, BDA, and Leo Saldanha, Coordinator, ESG, and Ritesh Kumar, Head, Wetlands International, South Asia. DH photo

thinking minds: Usha Rajagopalan, Puttenahalli lake activist; Lakshman, KSPCB chairman; K J George, Bengaluru Development Minister; T V Ramachandra, Coordinator, Energy and Wetlands Research Group, IISc; P N Nayak, member Engineer, BDA, and Leo Saldanha, Coordinator, ESG, and Ritesh Kumar, Head, Wetlands International, South Asia. DH photo

Environment experts and government officials on Saturday deliberated on the state of Bellandur and Varthur lakes.

The occasion was ‘DH Spotlight’ on ‘Bringing Bellandur and Varthur Lakes Back to Life’ at East Cultural Association in Indiranagar.

Minister for Bengaluru Development and Town Planning K J George said Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had always been concerned about the lakes not just in Bengaluru but also across the state and had convened meetings at Vikasa Soudha.

“A committee led by additional chief secretary in Urban Development Department Mahendra Jain was formed to revive Bellandur and Varthur lakes, which decided to carry out weeding and aeration. An implementation committee headed by the BDA commissioner has been constituted,” said George.

He said the two sewage treatment plants (STP) set up in Bellandur will be operational by July and four more will be installed in the coming months.

“We cannot improve the lake overnight. It may take at least two to three years,” said the minister.
He refuted reports that the fire in Bellandur lake earlier in January was due to a chemical reaction. “If the fire was because of a chemical reaction, then the entire lake would have been burning. The fact is that there was a small patch of dry grass, which caught fire.”

He junked the notion that the government acted because of the NGT order. “We always wanted to revive the lake. We took the responsibility of protecting lakes and formed the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA).

‘Other lakes matter, too’

KSPCB chairperson Lakshman said the concern should not be limited to Bellandur and Varthur lakes but also other lakes like Byramangala. He said the city was paying the price of rapid urbanisation and that precautions should have been taken long back.
BDA engineer member P N Nayak explained about the various measures taken by the BDA to restore the lake. He said at least 3,000 tonnes of weeds have been removed and the remaining will be removed soon. Three more harvesters and a floating crane would be roped in soon.

Dr Ritesh Kumar, conservation programme manager in Wetland International South Asia, said the lake and wetland conservation is a matter of concern and emphasised on an integrated development plan.

Critical voices

IISc professor Dr T V Ramachandra criticised the government for waking up late. “Let us step out of the era of excuses. We often talk of inadequacies of infrastructure, but why do we reach a stage where things get out of hand?”

Ramachandra said the city receivesenough rain to meet 70% of its water requirement but the need is to conserve it. He rued that dumping of debris was rampant in Bellandur and Varthur lakes despite patrolling and monitoring through CCTV cameras.

Usha Rajagopalan, trustee in Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust, told the audience about her experiments to protect the Puttenahalli lake. She said she lacked expertise like others on the panel but her perseverance resulted in revival of the Puttenahalli lake. She said reviving Bellandur and Varthur lakes could be possible if a serious attempt is made.

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