No wetland in this concrete jungle

Experts express concern over dwindling number of water bodies

No wetland in this concrete jungle

A decade ago, Bangalore had around 400 wetlands (lakes and water bodies), but only 93 live tanks remain now.

The City does not have a single wetland considering the ideal definition of wetland (which has swamps and marshes), say experts. The definition has been revised to suit the present times under the 1991 Ramsar Convention, according to which live tanks are also categorised as wetlands.

The dwindling number of water bodies and the revised definition are a matter of grave concern, say experts, ahead of World Wetland Day observed on February 2 with the theme being ‘wetlands and agriculture’. “Ideally, wetlands have swamps, marshes, grass and weeds around. Water flows through these vegetations and then collects, which is clean and fit for drinking. Bellandur, Jakkur and Lalbagh lakes are the recent examples, which are now being lost. These vegetations would absorb all nutrients and contaminants. With a little bit of maintenance, they can be saved. They should be cleared of sewage, encroachment and dumping. There is no ideal wetland left in Bangalore,” said T V Ramachandra from the Centre for Ecological Sciences – Energy and Wetlands Research Group, Indian Institute of Science. He said wetlands were crucial in meeting the City’s water needs, the River Cauvery cannot sustain for long. 

Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan, senior fellow at Ashoka Trust For Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE), said many lakes such as Sankey and Nagawara have been modified by human intervention. They are important for irrigation, drinking water purposes and urban ecosystem. They are very critical because most cities are near water sources – for example, New Delhi (Yamuna River), Mumbai and Kochi (river and ocean); but Bangalore has none. So, it is important to ensure how water can be sustained in the wake of good monsoon showers.

Suresh Heblikar, an environmentalist, said Bangalore, a decade ago, had over 400 water bodies. Now, only 93 remain. Earlier, 10 km from the City, there were marshes and water bodies, and in their surroundings crops were grown. Now, this has moved 50-60 km away from the City due to urbanisation and concretisation. It is impossible to restore them, as each water body linking the other and valleys has been lost and stormwater drains have been encroached upon.

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