Jakkur lake cries for help

No doubt the lake is serene, but residential complexes outside the lake may pose a threat to the water body

Jakkur lake cries for help

Jakkur lake is a beauty. The greenery around it, the birds, the ducks on the water, sheets of water flowing quietly give it a pristine feel and loo.

But all of this will be lost in the long run if development happens the way it is now all around the periphery of the lake, which runs to about 160-180 acres. This traditional water body, almost 200 years old, is set to shrink further and may even succumb to encroachment.

 Jakkur lake is the most prominent lake in North East Bangalore on the way to Devanahalli and the international airport.The lake itself has been fenced all around giving it a clear boundary. A walking path too has been constructed all around the lake for people who would like to take an early morning walk or on a day when the weather is salubrious. The water body also supplies drinking water to the surrounding villages who are very pleased with the quality of the water.

They say they depend on Jakkur lake for drinking water, not on Cauvery because they don’t have a connection. If one considers this dependence as a threat to the lake, what must one make of the number of apartment blocks that have come up just around the lake? Then there is the dry water body adjacent to the lake, which authorities are planning to fill with mud and stones and level it.

This water body, a continuation of Jakkur lake will be lost forever if the debris one sees is anything to go by. Srikanth Upadhya, a resident close to Jakkur lake for the last 46 years is sceptical about the permanency of the lake. “A lake has to be protected not only with immediate fencing, but also by stopping residential development and townships very close to the water body. I have known no other water source in my life. So I would want it to be preserved as a natural entity.”

The lake has been encroached not within the fencing but just metres outside it. The extension of the lake, cut off by a road to the main lake, might be filled with debris and levelled any time. If this is one encroachment, then the other is the formation of a layout just adjacent to the main lake and the extension lake.

The BDA has planted stones indicating the way in which the layout has to be formed. Adjacent to these encroachments is the high number of apartments at a distance of about 50 to 75 metres from the main lake. The apartments may not have touched the boundary and not violated rules, but the very fact that they have been constructed within 100 metres of the lake will bring pressure on the lake. Where there are a cluster of houses, garbage accumulates, particularly plastic.

The number of vehicles plying in and around the apartment blocks would be high, infusing the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, which would gradually be sucked in by the lake. This is a long-term effect. There are atleast 50-70 apartments around the lake. The view of the lake from the balconies is spectacular with resplendent greenery all around. People have to pay  a premium to get a lake view setting and balcony. The developers gain and therefore have a stake in real estate around water bodies.

Apart from the 50-70 apartments,  there are some more new complexes coming up. That would add up to atleast a 100 more. It is surprising how approvals have come in for construction work in a green ecosystem. Ramachandra, another resident in the area near Jakkur lake says he did not understand how approvals were given. “We’ve been here very long and we are attached to the Jakkur lake. If all these big buildings come around the lake, the impact will be severe for the lake and us too. We are nowhere in the picture when it comes to big people.”

Another worry for them and any lake enthusiast is the broken lamps all along the lake. The government has set up atleast 50 lamps or more to give the lake lighting. But  around 20 lamp covers have been stoned and broken by unidentified people. “We have no idea who has done this. Usually it would be a group of people, mostly youngsters. The cover of the bulbs fetches money. These have not been replaced yet. The broken lamps indicates that there are people indulging in small-time thieving within the lake precincts. This is not good for the lake, not for us too.”

The Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) who is incharge of the lakes, Jayaram, says fishing is a serious concern. “As per law, fishing is not to be allowed in a developed lake. But there are village folk who fish everyday, getting about 20 to 30 kgs fish. They cast the nets on the water in the night and leave them unattended. Birds which particularly have bent legs, fly down to the water’s surface to find fish and are trapped in the net’s tentacles. They begin to drown and eventually die.

The birds coming to the lake is part of the Jakkur natural habitat. We understand that its also a matter of livelihood. But if we don’t prevent this, it may threaten the arrival of birds from very far off countries.” But the fishermen who live on the bunds of the lake claim they don’t leave the nets unattended. “We cast the nets till the time we get a good haul and by evening we remove it to be used the next morning,” a few fishermen who were at the lake told this newspaper. “People come to the lake to buy the fish. We don’t go and sell,” the fishermen said.

The senior forest official however pointed out that the government had taken initiative to rejuvenate the lake despite all these activities. “We have completely cleaned the lake. All the sewage coming is routed to a sewage treatment plant which treats the waste and churns out edible water. The treated water is then directed into the lake. So the water quality is good. We have made a walking path all around the lake and we have fenced the lake. We are protecting the lake not allowing any encroachment by anyone. There are no structures within the lake. There is no encroachment.” It is estimated that around Rs 15-20 crore has been spent of rejuvenating the lake.

The story of the encroachment though is not within the fence, but metres outside it. There has to be green space and bunds all around the lake. One side of the lake has lush green trees, but behind it, is construction material. There is no plan as of now to clear encroachments outside the lake - on the immediate periphery. It is believed that officials were paid off. Admittedly, the lake itself is clean and the walking path is good, but when hundreds of litres of waste and water are generated by the residential landscape, is it not a serious source of anxiety for the lake which ideally should remain pristine.

DCF Jayaram says that situation at the lake is not all that bad. “What the lake was at one time is now not the same thing. It is far better, cleaner and inviting. We are doing eveyrthing to retain the lake as its ecosystem is very helpful and conducive to birds. The oxygen produced by the lake is valuable. We also have the sewage treatment plant and so all waste will be taken care of. The lake is fed with eight million litres of treated water everyday, which in turn recharges the ground, increases the water table and fills up the bore-wells and the beautiful old open wells. The water levels in Jakkur are be the best in the city as there has been a very good re-charging because of the lake and its cleanliness. Jakkur lake is a model to be followed by all other lakes in the city.”

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry