Pollution, encroachment killing Bellandur lake

Pollution, encroachment killing Bellandur lake

The frothing and burning Bellandur Lake is a result of multiple problems such as rampant water pollution, large-scale encroachment of land adjoining the water body and negligence of the administration in maintaining the lake for the past last three decades, according to local people.

Alteration of stormwater drains, disappearing canals and dumping of waste is probably the highest at Bellandur or Yamalur lake compared to any other lake in the City. The local residents have become mute spectators as their several appeals to remove encroachment and clean up the lake have fallen on deaf ears.

The City’s largest lake, spread over 900 acres, was once a lifeline for the villages of Bellandur, Yamalur, Kempapura, Kariammana Agrahara, Belur, Challaghatta and Nagasandra. However, the pristine lake has now become a curse for the villagers with unbearable stench emanating from the water body.

“The froth singes the skin. We do not even park our vehicles near the lake. The vehicle loses its colour as froth settles on it,” says Balu, a resident of Yamalur, where the froth on the lake was found burning for the first time.

Villagers were found covering their nose, as they neared the lake. They blame the illegal dumping of garbage and discharge of sewerage into the lake as the main reason.  Pointing to the garbage dumped in the lake, the villagers said that the lake had more garbage than water. “ The 40-foot deep lake has a silt deposit up to 35 feet. The silt comprises all kinds of waste including biomedical waste,” said M Sushil Gowda, a resident of Yamalur, pointing to a heap of medicine bottles near the lake.

The encroachment of lakebed and stormwater drains (SWD) by realtors, government agencies and private individuals has also contributed to the sorry state of affairs. It was found that the SWDs, which once were 33-foot wide, had shrunk to three-four feet.
Several villas, software parks have come up on SWDs. Once the 15-foot wide SWDs, according to the villagers, have been reduced to just three feet.

At some places, the canals which supply water from the lake to farm lands, have shrunk in width - from 66 feet to a mere 5-10 feet. According to villagers, at least three kilometre of this canal has been filled up with debris and mud.

“Whenever there is floods due to rain, water gushes into the farms adjoining these canals,” said Abhishekgowda, a resident of Yamalur.

The farmers in these villages have either sold their land to private builders or have become realtors themselves.  Groundwater has depleted alarmingly and has been declared unfit for human consumption, leaving the local people high and dry.

The realtors, executing projects around the lake, have brought thousands of Bangladeshi labourers work for them. They work as ragpickers during their spare time.

Two Bangladeshi workers - Jamal and Muneer - were found collecting scrap material in the lake when the froth was high.Most of the material they had collected were abandoned medicine bottles and boxes.  

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