BBMP plans to shrink Gottigere Lake for road widening

BBMP plans to shrink Gottigere Lake for road widening

Namma Metro work in progress at the Bannerghatta Road near IIMB in Bengaluru. DH FILE PHOTO

Amid protests against encroachment of water bodies and lung spaces, government agencies have decided to cut a part of the Gottigere Lake on Bannerghatta Road for the Namma Metro project.

At a recent meeting held by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Paike (BBMP) and the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL), it was decided to widen the Bannerghatta Road by 10-15 feet. The road runs on the boundary of the 37.13-acre Gottigere Lake, which will pay the price for the development project.

T Jagannath Rao, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Lakes, BBMP, told DH that at the meeting, it was decided to widen the Bannerghatta Road, including the Gottigere side, and give way for Metro Rail. A part of the lake will be lost in the process.

Rao said there are no plans for any bridge. A concrete wall will be constructed on the dried-up portion of the lake. That portion will be made viable for road works.

Another official, seeking anonymity, said it was easier to shrink lakes after the abolition of the Karnataka Lake Conservation of Develoment Authority (KLCDA) as the KLCDA Act is also lost. The lake can be saved only if the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) and the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) intervene.

Interestingly, the Lokayukta had held a meeting with the BBMP officials to discuss issues pertaining to lakes on Friday. The Gottigere Lake issue was also discussed and the Lakayukta’s response was negative.

During the visit of Upalokayukta Justice S B Majage in March 2015, directions were issued to fence and protect the lake.

Locals and experts are not convinced with the idea of shrinking the lake. “A part of the lake has already been lost for toll road, layout and commercial establishments. The lake was once home to migratory birds and needs to be restored. With new projects, more area will be lost,” said Harsha, a resident.

Prof T V Ramachandra, Energy and Wetlands Research Group, IISc, said the lake was being destroyed. He pointed out that according to the Wetlands Act 2015 and Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules 2016, the physical and chemical integrity of lakes cannot be altered. The size of the lake cannot be reduced, roads and bridges cannot be built over them, he noted.

In 1999, environmentalist Suresh Heblikar had filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court against the BDA’s (the then custodian) move to construct a road through the lake. The court ordered that no road be laid on the lake and that water body should be maintained.

Heblikar said the lake has lost its original identity. Now, if it is shrunk further, there nothing much would be left.