Amid lockdown, authorities desilt Bellandur lake

Amid coronavirus lockdown, authorities desilt Bellandur, Varthur lakes

The desilting work is in progress in Bellandur Lake.

Amid strict lockdown, officials have removed tonnes of silt from Bellandur and Varthur lakes. But, transporting it to quarries outside the city has turned into a daunting task.

The Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) took up the development work of the lakes after a rap from the National Green Tribunal (NGT). 

The authority is staring at the task of removing 1 crore cubic metre of silt from the two lakes, a BDA official said. “It costs Rs 255 to remove and transport 1 cubic feet of silt. We have to spend more on removing silt than for developing the lake,” the official added.

The BDA even offered to provide the silt free of cost for agriculture purpose. But fear over chemical contamination of the soil has prevented the farmers from taking it.

Tenders were invited for desilting work in February 2020. The work had to be taken up by ensuring that the water from the stormwater drains does not enter the lake directly. The water in the lake was drained and the desilting was about to start when the lockdown was imposed.

“The desilting work began on April 24. Till now, silt up to 5 feet deep has been cleared from 100 acres of the two lakes,” an official from the BDA said.

Over the past month, eight excavators have dumped tonnes of silt near the lake boundary. The Bengaluru Urban district administration has handed over 17 acres of stone quarry area in Mailasandra and Vittasandra to the BDA to dump the silt. But these quarries are 25 km away from the lake area.

“Transporting the silt is a big challenge as moving trucks in the morning hours will inconvenience commuters. We have to operate in the limited window period during the night,” the official added.

The officials want the silt to dry up as the recent rain has added to its weight. The court has also directed the BDA to weigh the silt before disposing of it.

However, residents in the area express concerns over the silt flowing back into the lake during the heavy rain.