Residents on periphery of lakes wary and anxious

Water from Madivala lake moves through the strome water drain after the water leavel increased due to inflow of the water from Hulimavu lake bleached in Bengaluru. (DH file photo)

The dramatic deluge after the Hulimavu lake breach has left lakhs of Bengalureans residing near lakes wary and anxious. That over 300 households could be flooded in a flash has left them with a sense of deep unease. Here are a few voices from across the city articulating that fear.

For the record, a private contractor who undertook work without any permissions or precautions has been blamed for the lake breach. Police have registered a complaint and investigations are underway. But the fear persists.



Recalling that Sunday horror, Hulimavu resident Chandrappa says: “The water rushed into my house, destroying all my electronic gadgets, clothes and necessary items. I somehow managed to rescue my kids and left them at my land owners residence and escaped.” He has been promised a compensation of Rs 50,000.

Around 12.30 pm on November 24, the lake water had breached the bund and reached the roads. By 3 pm, the water had gone deeper into the residential localities, affecting over 300 people. Many victims were sheltered in a basketball court, as other rescue and rehabilitation efforts got underway.

“We got very scared when the water started flooding our houses. It was tough for us to escape. But the authorities were quick to provide us all the basic amenities,” recalls Arun, another resident of Hulimavu.

Afraid that they could be next, residents of areas adjoining the Bellandur and Varthur lakes have started taking up precautionary measures.

They are also trying to ensure that no private contrator or Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is taking up any projects without permission around the lakes concerned.

Notes Bellandur resident, Elangoven, “The entire breaching of Hulimavu lake is a man-made disaster. Not having a proper technical permission, someone comes and digs up a land or a road, then disappears. People residing nearby face a lot of issues. There has to be some kind of accountability in all this.”

The issue, he points out, is not about people living near lakes. “It is about how to protect public land. Let us make sure that any work that is undertaken is technically right.”

Lake activist, Jagadish Reddy feels the disaster could have been easily avoided with a little care. “This issue is not only near lakes, it can happen deep inside the city too. We had installed flood controlling mechanisms in and around Bellandur and Varthur lakes. So now, any amount of rain above 16mm can be handled within 24 hours. I suggest such gates should be installed in the entire city,” adds Reddy.

Both Reddy and Elangoven insist that any work on lake bunds should be strictly implemented w ith technical expertise, after taking due precautions.

This, they feel, will avoid a situation where the lives of thousands of residents nearby are endangered. Besides, a specific authority should oversee all works done on a lake.

In the case of the Hulimavu lake, the authority responsible was BBMP. But the Palike has put the blame on the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA). The Authority had handed over the lake to BBMP in 2016.

The Palike’s position is this: The BDA encroached the lake to form a layout. If they had not done so, the water would not have crossed the bund threshold. But as a the buck is passed, residents are left clueless and anxious.

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