Effluents sapping life out of Bengaluru's water bodies

Toxic chemicals released by industrial units pollute water in the lakes

Pure, uncontaminated water is a rare sight in the City’s lakes these days.
It’s soapy water with lather formation and experts attribute this to toxic effluents being let into the water by commercial and industrial units.

Apart from encroachment by real estate developers, these lakes face another major threat in the form of the effluents. Once the City’s lifelines, they have become cesspools of harmful chemicals, rue activists.

Bengaluru’s largest lakes like Varthur lake and Bellandur lake are the most affected. Water bodies that are also on the verge of turning toxic are Singasandra lake, Amruthahalli lake and Agrahara lake.  

Karthik L, a resident of Whitefield, recalls how Varthur lake was once a source of fresh water and residents from surrounding localities depended on it for irrigation and drinking.

“In the last few years, the situation has changed due to the mushrooming of industries nearby. There is foam on the surface of the lake and a foul smell emanates from there.”

Lake activist Balasubramaniam T said that to find out the kind of contamination and level of pollution, water testing needs to be done by the authorities maintaining the lakes.  

Sewage pipelines connected to stormwater drains (SWDs) that sometimes directly let out effluents into the lakes are also to be held responsible, say lake activists.

A resident of Vidyaranyapura recalls how once the Narasipura lake in her locality was polluted with sewage due to the negligence of people in a few households.

“Some houses had connected their sewage pipelines to the SWDs, which in turn were connected to the effluent pipe located inside the lake. Whenever there was heavy rain, the dirty water used to overflow into the lake. However, with the efforts of the citizens, the problem was sorted out,” said another resident.

Padma Ashok, a resident of Hebbal and member of Save Bangalore Lake Committee, said that the growth of hyacinth is the first indication of contamination of a water body. “The need of the hour is strong commitment from the citizens to save the lake. The civic agencies concerned should also take adequate measures,” she said.

An official of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board said that they had received complaints about lakes polluted by industrial effluents. But, due to the lack of co-operation from the public, their attempts to revive the lakes had failed.
“It is difficult to identify polluted lakes unless people living nearby alert us. Also, a few industries let out the toxic effluents only during the night,” the official said.  

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