'Rs 50,000 cr needed for Bengaluru’s water security'

Restoration and rejuvenation of lakes, stormwater drains, improved sewage treatment plants together cost Rs 50,000 crore, a high price to pay for the mistakes of the past 15-20 years.

The city will have to pay more than Rs 50,000 crore for restoration and rejuvenation of the major waterbodies, and the cost is set to go up if the negligence prevails, said V Balasubramanian, former additional chief secretary.

At an event organised by Bangalore Environment Trust here, the retired senior officer, who helmed Karnataka’s Task Force for Recovery and Protection of Public Lands, said a comprehensive policy on water management was needed.

Noting that the population in BBMP limits would cross 2 crores in the next 10 years, he said the present arrangement would not be able to meet the water requirements of even half of the city.

He said the estimated cost of the projects prepared by engineers from a reputed consultancy firm has gone up from Rs 40,000 crore to Rs 60,000 crore over the past five years.

Restoration and rejuvenation of lakes, stormwater drains, improved sewage treatment plants together cost Rs 50,000 crore, a high price to pay for the mistakes of the past 15-20 years.

Interestingly, the draft report recommends a sanction of Rs 10,000 crore for several other segments, including public education.

“We have to realise that micro-studies and isolated attempts by NGOs, educational institutions and citizens will not be able to restore and rejuvenate lakes,” he told DH, adding that the project envisions lakes as protected waterbodies.

However, he noted that lakes could only be a supplement to Cauvery water. Reducing leakage from 35% to less than 15%, purifying at least 60% of used water from sewage and complete rainwater harvesting was needed to avoid a “famine”.

Renowned environmentalist A N Yellappa Reddy quoted a report by Comptroller and Auditor General to question why the Karnataka Pollution Control Board has not used Rs 560 crore for recruiting staff and procuring the equipment to prevent pollution and for restoration.

“Those on the top live in denial even as they see the disastrous results of their laxity. We have prepared a list of actionable plan, including a scientific assessment of gross pollution, and will move highest authorities in a month,” Reddy said.

NLSIU professor M K Ramesh said the higher judiciary had delivered 50 orders covering every aspect of lake conservation. But officials still escape responsibility by pointing at “gaps in the law”.

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'Rs 50,000 cr needed for Bengaluru’s water security'

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