Yediyur lake on death row

Damage control: Members of the Hasiru Usiru work to fill a rupture on the Yediyur Lake embankment. DH photoYediyur lake, one of the few remaining water bodies in the City, may soon shrink in size or even perish if the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has its way.

The cash-strapped Palike has drawn up an extravagant beautification plan to build an island with the 33-ft bronze statue of Swami Vivekananda in the middle of the 12-acre lake.

The Palike intends to drain out water from the lake and de-silt it to develop the huge island. The total cost of the project is Rs 1.5 crore.

However, the Palike, while chalking out the plan did not bother to seek public opinion and clandestinely began the work on Monday evening. They ruptured the concrete embankment on the north-west side of the lake resulting in loss of at least three feet of water in the lake.

On Tuesday morning, the members of the Hasiru Usiru, Environment Support Group (ESG) and Save Bangalore Committee (SBC), who came to know about the discrete action of the Palike, alerted their members.

Heeding the call, some members reached the place with spades, crowbars and earthmovers to repair the damaged embankment.

After five hours of hard work, the team of the Hasiru Usiru comprising Dinesh, Sarvana, Jayaram and Muniyappa was successful in closing the rupture and blocking the flow of water.

The BBMP employees who had reached the spot to pump out the water, dropped the idea after seeing a sizable number of protesters and mediapersons and left the place.

Violation of court order

Leo Saldanha of ESG told mediapersons that the BBMP’s action was a blatant violation of the Karnataka High Court order with regard to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the conservation of lakes in the City.

Saldanha, who himself is the petitioner, said: “The High Court has strictly ordered not to take up any commercial activity or an act that reduces the extent of any water body.”

Expressing apprehensions that the Palike was carrying out the plan at the behest of Transport Minister R Ashoka and local BJP corporator N R Ramesh, Saldanha said the Palike would one day allow a temple to come up there if this project was not stopped in the initial stages.

Saldanha even sent SMSes to the BBMP Commissioner, Justice Mustafa, Member Secretary, Karnataka Legal Services Authority and Sai Baba, Chief Executive Officer, Lake Development Authority (LDA).

When contacted, Palike Commissioner Siddaiah said he was kept in the dark about the work.

“The project is all about draining the water to de-silt the lake and then to build an island with a Swami Vivekananda statue on it. But I have no idea about the damage caused to the embankment. This is wrong,” said Siddaiah. However, B V Satish, chief engineer, Lake Division, BBMP, said the South Zone was maintaining the lake.

Yediyur Ward Corporator N R Ramesh said he too was  a nature lover and did not want to damage the lake.

The corporator said: “There are lots of misgivings about the project. Our sole intention is to beautify the lake, grow a number of fruit-bearing trees to attract birds. The water of the lake is highly polluted and has to be drained out. In four days’ time we will build an island and install Vivekananda’s statue. We have four bore-wells in the park around the lake, which we will use to fill the lake quickly.”

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