Killing a stormwater drain to strangulate a lake

Killing a stormwater drain to strangulate a lake

Succumbing to pressure from a series of litigations on protecting the natural canals and storm water drains (SWD) connecting lakes and river, the District Administration carried out a survey.

But the manner in which the survey was done, especially on the one leading to the Chikka Kallasandra lake, shows the administration's reluctance to execute the Karnataka High Court order to this effect.

Three years ago, the High Court had ordered the survey of all SWDs, known as Rajakaluve in Kannada, removal of encroachments in and around them and subsequent fencing. The Court was also categorical that no polluted or untreated water should be let into the SWDs.

The legal intervention was critical since these Rajakaluves are the feeder canals for the lake, besides the  Vrushabhavathi and Arkavathi rivers. Simply put, reviving lakes in the City will be impossible without ridding these canals of encroachment.

On January 5, the then Deputy Commissioner of Bangalore Urban district, G C Prakash called a press conference with BBMP Chief Engineer (SWD) to announce the completion of the SWD survey. He declared that the entire survey sketch would be handed over to the SWD division of the BBMP. Based on this statement, an RTI application was filed in the SWD division seeking the survey sketch of the Rajakaluve in the upstream and downstream of Chikka Kallasandra lake.

Information held back

BBMP did furnish the survey sketch of the Rajakaluve in the downstream, but held back information about the Rajakaluve in the upstream. The implication was clear: The survey sketches super-imposed on Google Earth images show that the two kilometres long Rajakaluve has been fully encroached upon. An eviction drive, if carried out, will lead to demolition of a large number of buildings.

In its written reply to another RTI query onthe survey sketch of the upstream Rajakaluve, the Palike’s SWD division had this to say: The application is forwarded to the Deputy Director Land Records. This official is to provide the required information.

But yet another RTI query addressed to the Deputy Director of Land Records has not yielded any information. The application under the RTI Act was filed 60 days ago.

Aiding encroachers

The Palike has apparently another reason to shy away from furnishing more information: It was instrumental in shrinking the SWD’s size in the lake’s upstream. Central, State and international bankers’ funds besides the Bangalore tax payers money were used to construct box drains, thus reducing the size of the Rajakaluve by almost one-tenth of its actual size.
The box drain provided a strong foundation to construct multi-storeyed buildings exactly on the Rajakaluve.

Private gardens, garages, apartments, shopping complexes and many other structures sprang up in the remaining portion.

Anatomy of a drain encroached

BBMP was instrumental in shrinking the SWD’s size in the lake’s upstream

The box drain built using Central, State, international bankers’ funds and taxpayers’ money reduced SWD by a tenth of its actual size

The box drain provided strong foundation to construct multi-storey buildings exactly on the Rajakaluve

Survey sketches super-imposed on Google Earth images show that the two-km-long
Rajakaluve has been fully encroached upon

B S SATHYANARAYANA,
Mayor, Bangalore

The lake has been fully encroached upon. Houses, bus shelters and shops have come up. It is shocking that the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force, an otherwise hyperactive organisation, is sitting idle despite the encroachment of a government lake. This lake also figures prominently in the A T  Ramaswamy committee report.

M LAKSHMINARAYANA,
Commissioner, BBMP

I am not aware of the encroachment of Chikka Kallasandra Lake. I will get details from the lake division of the BBMP. If there is encroachment, we will initiate measures to clear it.


GURAPPA NAIDU,
State Cong Secretary

Without the involvement of public representatives, such encroachment cannot happen. It is daylight robbery. I urge the State government to initiate measures to revive the lake and clear the encroachment at the earliest.

S RAVI KUMAR,
Social activist and
area resident
 
Government turning a blind eye to the lake encroachment raises many doubts. The water table in the area has gone down drastically. If no action is taken now to save lakes, Bangalore will become an unlivable place.

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