A lake abused by govt agencies

A lake abused by govt agencies

Government agencies have topped the list in abusing Bellandur lake, the city’s largest water body. The lake is spread across the four portions of Bellandur Amanikere Khane, Beluru, Agara and Iblur. Besides dumping raw sewage into the lake, the government organisations have also grabbed at least 10 acres and 23 guntas of Bellandur lake.

Documents available with Deccan Herald show that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has occupied two acres 25 guntas in Beluru portion of the lake, the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Authority (KIADB) has grabbed three acres and 20 guntas and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) built a road using four acres and 18 guntas of lake land.

Lake area
The survey sketches, prepared by the district authorities with help from a team of surveyors over many months, reveal that the portion of the lake in Survey number-1 in Bellandur Amanikere Khane is spread across 274 acres 26 guntas.

Survey No 2 in Beluru in Bengaluru East Taluk covers an area of 40 acres and nine guntas.

An area of 399 acres and 14 guntas comes under Sy Number 12 of Iblur and 166 acres and 15 guntas is in Bengaluru South Taluk.

Following directions by the Karnataka House panel on tank protection and rejuvenation, a committee headed by Ranebennur MLA, K B Koliwad, the revenue department surveyed all the tanks in the City including Bellandur tank. The survey sketch shows that the lake is spread in four villages of the City with an expanse of 880 acres and 24 guntas.

BDA awaits survey sketches
The Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA), which is presently the custodian of Bellandur lake, is yet to receive the survey sketches officially from the revenue department.

An officer in the lake division of the BDA said on condition of anonymity that six missives to the revenue department since 2012 to 2014 have fetched no results.

The officer said, “We have heard that the revenue department has completed the survey work but we have not received the survey sketches officially.”

“While we got the survey sketches of the lake in Bengaluru East Taluk through some other sources, we have not yet got the sketches of the two survey numbers in two village of Bengaluru South Taluk.”

The officer added that supplying the survey sketches alone will not do. The revenue department has to demarcate the boundary of the lake to fully take possession of the properties.

Another BDA officer said the Urban Development Department of Karnataka government has sent a proposal of Rs 900 crore for protecting the lake to the Urban Development Ministry. Unless the fund comes from there, the lake cannot be protected.

Deccan Herald has kickstarted a campaign to revive Bellandur lake by partnering with the local communities, students and other stakeholders involved. Today’s PointBlank is the second part of this campaign

How do we solve a problem like Bellandur?

Challenging to the core, the lake’s unimaginable levels of pollution have no easy solutions. Yet, many have begun to think out of the box, conjuring up multiple ways to tackle the city’s largest water body. Old ways are being questioned, failures highlighted and loopholes identified. Dr T V Ramchandra from Indian Institute of Science offers a structured way to approach the lake restoration. Here’s his recipe: 

 Allow only treated sewage to the lake. Ensure 100 per cent treatment of the sewage generated in the City in a decentralised way (at ward levels, if possible). Untreated sewage not only contaminates lakes but also land and thus get into our food. (Vegetables are grown in the downstream, irrigated by this contaminated water)

Do not adopt the proposal to divert sewage from the lake to the downstream. This is illogical. Downstream dwellers are also citizens.

Instead, adopt the Jakkur lake model for restoration: sewage treatment plant (STP) with constructed wetlands and shallow algae ponds. This integrated system will remove nutrients - Nitrates and Phosphates.

Desilt the lake. Huge silt deposition on the lake might be a useful resource (for road as well as construction activities). Desilting will enhance the lake’s storage capacity and its groundwater recharging capability. Water table in some locations has dipped to 1,000 feet. Besides, the accumulated sludge could also be a good nutrient for agriculture and floriculture fields.

Immediately stop “irresponsible and senseless” ad-hoc approaches such as mesh and altering ramp. This will only unnecessarily waste public money.

Remove the encroachments, both of the lake as well as the stormwater drains.

Ensure Underground drains (UGDs) in the region to direct the sewage directly to the STP.

Involve all the stakeholders in the restoration as well as sustainable management.

Ban use of phosphorus in detergents. Bring in appropriate government policy to this effect.

Implement the Water Act, 1974 (Government of India) that stresses on the polluter pays principle, and ensure zero discharge from industries.

Introduce environmental accounting of natural resources and the cost of contamination / pollution.

Decentralise sewage treatment. Set up treatment plants in each ward or cluster of wards. Use renewable energy to sustain these treatment plants.

Do not use the stormwater drain (SWD) network for UGDs that transport sewage. SWDs are essential to mitigate urban floods. Choking the drains with UGDs and manholes will block water flow in the drain and enhance the flood situation.

Missing lake land
More than nine-and-a-half acres of lake land in Survey number-1 of Bellandur Amanikere Khane seems to have gone 'missing'. The Records of Rights, Tenancy and Crops (RTC) show that the extent of lake is 284 acres and two guntas while the latest survey sketches made by revenue officials show 274 acres and 26 guntas.

The surveyors have mentioned in their latest survey sketch that the 'Akarband' (old survey sketch with details) mentions the actual measurement of Sy No-1 as 284 acres and two guntas but when they went to measure it on the ground, they could find only 274 acres and 26 guntas. A revenue officer on condition of anonymity said that any anomaly in the Akarband is highly unlikely. “Either the surveyors goofed up somewhere or meddled with the original survey sketch.”

Send in your suggestions on Bellandur lake revival to pointblank@deccanherald.co.in 

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