Members of the Save Kukkarahalli Lake Committee have urged the University of Mysore authorities to stop illegal construction works on the lake land.
In a letter addressed to the Registrar of the university, the activists have pointed out that the university is only a caretaker and not owner of Kukkarahalli Lake. But it has launched certain constructions on the foreshore of the lake and also fountains within the lake, which are against the provisions of the Karnataka Lake Protection and Development Authority Rules 2014.
“All the activities undertaken by the university, in the name of ‘development’, are in violation of the undertaking given in the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by then Vice-Chancellor S N Hegde in May 2000. It is to be noted that during the past decades, the university has spent crores of rupees on ‘so-called development’, without taking care to maintain the serenity of the lake and its environs, the lake’s ecology, its flora and fauna and cleanliness of water. On the contrary the overall condition of the lake has totally deteriorated during the period,” R Chandra Prakash, a member of the committee, said.
The university has recently announced the introduction of musical fountain in Kuvempuvana and floating fountain, cascade fountain and jet fountains in the water. Prakash said the present ‘development plans’ of the university contain programmes of encroachment of foreground for the construction of buildings and putting up structures such as fountains and infrastructure for boating for commercial gains.
“All these activities are in violation of different laws governing water bodies as also the tacit understanding, that the lake would be protected and maintained with its beautiful ecology and environs,” he added.
Kukkarahalli Lake was constructed in the year 1864, during the rule of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, to provide water for irrigation to about 10,000 acres of land.
It was also a source of water supply to the city. But over the years, sewage and excessive land encroachment and blockage of water flow sources led to the eutrophication of the lake. With the encroachment of the Poornaiah Canal, the main source of fresh water to the lake, untreated sewage water was allowed to replenish the water supply, causing great damage to the lake and its ecology.
In 1960, the custody of the lake was handed over to the university. At present, the total area of the lake is 104 hectares — water is spread on 49 hectares and the foreshore area is 55 hectares.
The university has already violated the norm twice — first by constructing the UGC-Academic Staff College (now UGC-Human Resource Development Centre) and second by constructing the hostels for the Academic Staff College.
The Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) had filed a writ petition in the High Court drawing the attention to the mismanagement of the lake by the university. The High Court disposed of the case as the university submitted that “all necessary actions have been taken and, if anything more is to be attended to regarding the upkeep of the tank, it will attend to all other things necessary to keep the tank clean”.
In 1999, a ‘Comprehensive Plan For Conservation of Kukkarahalli Lake’ by U N Ravikumar, K B Sadananda, and P Guruprasad of the Centre for Appropriate Rural Technologies (CART) of the National Institute of Engineering (NIE), was chalked out.
It resulted in the signing of an MoU among the university, Mysore Amateur Naturalists, Mysore Grahakara Parishat and Centre for Appropriate Rural Technologies in the year 2000, wherein, it was agreed that the university would, along with these institutions, work for the conservation, preservation and protection of Kukkarahalli Lake.
C Basavaraju, registrar of the university, said, the objections raised by the activists have been forwarded to the Engineering Division of the university for advice. “Suitable action would be taken following a report from the Engineering Division,” he said.