Froth leaves locals fuming

Villagers grow vegetables and greens using water from Bylamangala reservoir

Danger sign: Froth flowing in one of the canals of Bylamangala reservoir.

The reservoir supplies water to the City's feeder zone, where crops are grown, but it is not quite clear to environmentalists what caused the froth. They suspect it to be the result of toxic effluent deposits in the canals. What is causing worry is the pungent smell that emanates at the point where the canals meet the reservoir.

“The evaporated air appears to have settled on the trees nearby and is forming black and dark brown soot. This is a sudden development. Earlier, there were just weeds, but now it seems like there is a larger, serious problem at hand," says Aboud S Jumbe, a research scholar at Environment Science Department (ESD) at Bangalore University (BU), pursuing a PhD under ESD professor Dr Nandini.

When asked about the possible cause, an official said recent rains could have carried  a lot of chemicals discharged by washing units in the area to the reservoir. The froth could have been formed by the “churning” effect in the water.

The leaves of the trees around the resevoir have turned brown because of the vapour effect. According to Dr Nandini, this could affect the photosynthesis process, finally leading to the death of the trees.

Farmers are worried that vegetables, paddy and coconut, which are widely grown in the area, could be affected because of fears that the suspected toxic effluents might seep into the soil. Environmentalists agree that the resulting contamination of the water used for irrigation could, in turn, prove harmful to consumers. Earlier, Byramangala was known for its sewage-fed crops.

Biggest reservoir
Byramangala reservoir, situated at a distance of 25 km from the City, was constructed in 1940 to irrigate over 2,000 acres of land. It is the biggest reservoir near the City built across river Vrishabavathi. The tank has two 11-km-long canals. The left bank canal has two branch canals measuring 10 km and six km. Agriculturists in the region still rely on the two branch canals.

Despite the pollution and the stench, sewage water farming continues in the region due to lack of other alternatives. Charan, a resident of Byramangala, says: "We know that the water is not good. But what can we do? This is our only livelihood."

 Karnataka State Pollution Control Board Chairman Sharathchandra said that the board would not be able to act and find remedial measures since it was yet to receive any complaint. He, however, promised to look into the issue and address the concerns of the villagers.

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