Lakes were doomed then, they are doomed now: citizens

Lakes were doomed then, they are doomed now: citizens

Bellandur lake foam at Varthur in Bengaluru on Friday.

The newly formed Karnataka Tanks Conservation and Development Authority (KTCDA) is set to be the regulator of lakes in Karnataka while the good old Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA) is now history. What does this mean to the citizens of Bengaluru who have been fighting for the well-being of the city lakes for years now?

Well, for the vast majority of them, this is an ominous move which is doomed right from its inception. “This will not only kill the lakes / tanks, it will also make sure that Bengaluru and Karnataka as a whole suffer for water, as lakes and tanks act as the major groundwater recharge structures in a concrete jungle like Bengaluru. The amendment will make sure Bengaluru runs out of water by 2030 as predicted by BBC and Niti Ayog,” says V Ramprasad, Co-founder and convenor of Friends of Lakes (FOL)

Many agree with Ramprasad and feel that this is an ‘offer on a platter’ for the land mafias hunting for land. “It looks like they are purposely creating loopholes with vague amendments. These loopholes will help the lakebed to get encroached, and no one will have the power to do anything,” says Sai Ram, a software professional.

“The amendment is ridiculous,” notes Ram. “I had read about the vague description of the capacity of lakes as well as the lakebed’s importance. Did the legislators even take an opinion from the lake experts?” Ram wonders.

Roshni P, a homemaker feels all of this is hogwash and nothing more. “The whole National
Greens Tribunal (NGT) verdict on Bellandur lake was a national shame to Karnataka. It is not that the lake flourished when KTCDA was the custodian. I do not have any high hope now. I will be glad if any water body survive at all, let alone questions of maintenance or pollution. It is sad that we do not have specialists looking after the matter,” she says.

The thought is echoed by Deepanjali Naik from a citizen group called the voice of Sarjapur. She says though the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) or the Bruhath Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) could do nothing for the lakes in the Sarjapur area earlier, the KTCDA will not be any better. “Our lakes were doomed then, they are doomed now. The authorities need to realize that the lakes are a community asset and, we need a balanced solution to the problem,” she says.

While the city lakes suffer due to pollution, the lakes outside the city limits have no water at all. The farmers in the area, unaware of repercussions, resolve to use even water polluted with heavy metals because the lakes here are dry. “Our project is to spread awareness about this among farmers. The groundwater is getting polluted with heavy metals. In fact, using the polluted water has some serious side-effects that they seem to overlook,” Deepanjali says.

But with the KTCDA taking over as custodian of lakes, what do they expect. “The change will come only through a change in mindset. The authorities feel we do not know what the farmers go through. But all that we need is a holistic preservation of these water bodies. As a community, we need the farmers to have irrigation as well as save the dry lakebeds from getting encroached,” she adds.

Encroachment seems to be the biggest concern of the citizens after all. Priyadarshini (name changed), a teacher is scared that there will not be a way to avoid that. “The government is hand in glove with the land mafia. It is a known fact. But now they might simply get more audacious. It is a planned step by the politicians so that they can prosper along with their friends in real estate,” she notes.