Isro HQ sitting on breached lake

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Isro HQ sitting on breached lake

Sixty-one breached lakes have been handed over to public institutions for “public purpose” in Bengaluru since the late chief minister Ramakrishna Hegde’s rule from 1983-84.

And on one of such lakes sits the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) headquarters, Antariksh Bhavan, at Sanjaynagar, RMV Extension, North Bengaluru.

Isro was looking for land in the early 1980s for its headquarters and one among the sites shown to it was the present piece of land, which was a lake, V Balasubramanian, former additional chief secretary, revealed to Deccan Herald.

Balasubramanian, who was the chief secretary to Hegde, recalled how the lake was handed over to Isro.

“I happened to be the chief secretary under Mr Hegde, and former chief election commissioner T N Seshan was the joint secretary in the Space department. Those days, people were powerful and he used to call me saying, ‘Subramanian, I’m the joint secretary calling from the Space department; why don’t you help us with land for Isro?’ Eventually, Seshan managed to prevail over the government to part with land.

But what we had then were lakes. After the government’s permission, the lake was breached and the land was handed over to Isro for its headquarters. This meant that the lake itself was handed over to Isro. Mind you, technically, it is not an encroachment because the government itself breached the lake and handed it over to Isro,” Balasubramanian said.

But the former top official hastened to add: “But if you ask me whether Isro is sitting on a lake today, it is. There was a lake then. This was in 1984. All in all, 61 breached lakes have been handed over since then to a variety of public institutions for public purpose.

What was given to Isro was also for public purpose. Likewise, the city railway station today, the bus stand, the hockey and football stadiums, the Kanteerava stadium, all of these are located on lakes.

They were all breached lakes - there were so many lakes then that you had to go in for breach and then get land and build on them.”

“But of course, there are lakes which have been handed over for private activities, too,” Balasubramainan said. “The Challaghatta lake has been handed over to the Golf Association. There are people who know how these things happened. What is a public and a private purpose has to be understood clearly.

But the overall conclusion I am drawing from the recent activity is that a good number of lakes in the City have been breached after a public purpose has been defined. But breached lakes by government and given away for other purposes also.”

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