Corporate money to revive Varthur Lake

Corporate money to revive Varthur Lake

Varthur lake

Corporate money and citizen activism will now drive the clean-up of Varthur Lake, the second largest waterbody in Bengaluru and one of the most polluted. The Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), which maintains the lake, is happy someone else is doing its job. 

Previously desilted three decades ago, Varthur Lake has lost as much as 80% of its water-holding capacity. That explains why it's so polluted. A citizen-driven initiative involving farmers, experts and research institutes has now been launched to revive the lake. 

The team has compiled technical data by carrying out soil, sludge, silt and water tests with the help of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), besides completing land and bathymetric surveys. The Bathymetric survey measures the depth of a waterbody and maps its underwater features. Preparations for the desilting are in the last stage. Some companies have pledged their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds. 

Lake warden Jagadish Reddy Nagaappa said it was high time the lake was desilted. "The lake's water-holding capacity has decreased by 80%. Its water level has been drastically reduced. The actual capacity of the lake is 6.10 Million Cubic Metres as per an IISc survey. But the lake now holds less than a quarter of its original capacity," he added. 

The government hasn't released funds for desilting the lake. "We are carrying out the work with CSR funds," Reddy said. 

While desilting the lake, the team will channelise the available water for irrigation. Two channels will be constructed to take treated water to large swathes of farmland in northern and southern parts of the lake, said a member of the team. 

The BDA has vetted and approved the financial and technological aspects of the desilting project. Volunteers hope the silt can be converted into manure with the help of the Department of Horticulture and the IISc. The BDA has not, however, responded to requests for land to deposit the silt, the member added. 

B A Shivananda, Engineering Officer, BDA, said they had issued a no objection certificate (NOC) for raising CSR funds but were yet to decide whether to allot a government quarry or lakebed for depositing silt.