PIL revives hopes for Sarakki lake

Plan for sewage treatment plant takes shape, but mafia may pose hurdles

PIL revives hopes for Sarakki lake

Government officials who were apathetic towards the historic Sarakki lake for long seem to have woken up to the need to save the water body. On Friday, they visited the lake for a reality check on its status.

The officials are believed to have realised that a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed last month in the High Court of Karnataka over the plight of the water body by People's Campaign for Water (PCW), an NGO.

The officials seem to have woken up from their slumber, lest they attract the court’s ire. 

The lake has been in a shambles with weeds and rampant encroachment choking it. Repeated pleas by local residents to the various government departments to revive it have fallen on deaf ears.

The sight of many government officials near the water body, discussing its conservation, came as a surprise for members of the NGO. M Eshwarappa, one of the office-bearers who lives close to the lake, called up the Deccan Herald office in the morning to inform about the visit of the officials.

First time

“For the first time, we saw so many officials gathering on the lake bed and discussing ways to protect it. They were talking about setting up a sewage treatment plant (STP),” said Eshwarappa. He, however, could not figure out who those officials were and which department they were from.

Kshitij Urs, convener of PCW, said their organisation had been fighting to protect this water body for the past many years.

He said the lake was spread over 87 acres, but at least 20 acres had been encroached upon. A temple came up first on the lake bed and now a marriage hall is under construction.

A road has come up right in the middle of the water body.

Urs squarely blamed the Bangalore South tahsildar for not getting the water body surveyed and fenced, despite repeated pleas by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

Police blamed

He said when he spoke to the BDA commissioner on protecting the water body, the latter blamed the police for not protecting the engineers from local goons, backed by politicians, including a legislator.

“The BDA commissioner told me that the police were not cooperating with the engineers and never stopped encroachers from constructing buildings. When our engineers went to survey and fence the water body, local goons assaulted them. The matter is sub judice, but a marriage hall is being constructed on the encroached area,” said Urs.

Complaint

A senior BDA official told Deccan Herald that the inspection was carried out following complaints on road constructed right in the middle of the lake to facilitate a builder.
Senior officials of the Urban Development Department (UDD) and the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) also were part of the inspection team.
The UDD officials are learnt to have directed the BWSSB officials to set up a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) in the area.

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