Untreated sewage threatens future of subsisting lakes

Experts blame BWSSB for flaws in sewerage network

Untreated sewage threatens future of subsisting lakes
Mostly encroached and sewage-fed, Bengaluru’s still subsisting 837 lakes manifest a disturbing narrative of poor governance.

This is evident in the fact that Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is unable to stop inflow of untreated sewage to the water bodies even in core areas, where sanitary network is in place.

Dirty to the core, it’s not just the lakes in the 110 villages and the erstwhile city municipal corporation areas that were added to BBMP that are sewage-fed, the condition of lakes is no different in city centre which has an underground drainage (UGD) system. The latest fish kill in Ulsoor lake and the condition of Kempambudhi lake and Sankey tank indicate the same.

When contacted, BWSSB official said that work on replacement and rehabilitation of the old main sewer network in the core city areas has been taken up under the Environmental Action Plan (EAP).

“While 80% of the work taken up in the first phase is complete, replacement of old pipelines covering another 70 kms would be taken up in the next phase, he said.

The official went on to add that 10% of the population does not discharge sewage to the pipeline due to various reasons and this ultimately gets into the lake mostly in the monsoon season.

This means that there is no end to sewage getting into the lakes. Former BWSSB official M N Tippeswamy said the Board should make efforts to ensure that all the households are connected to the sewage network.

“There is no point in constructing sewage treatment plants (STPs), if the Board does not rectify sewage lines and the network on a war footing”, he said.

Concurring with his views, Indian Institute of Science ecologist Prof T V Ramachandra said that “the BWSSB and the government should stop giving excuses. The Board levies tax to treat sewage. If the officials are not able to do it, its better they resign for the youth to take over”, he said.

Quoting his own study, he mentioned that only treated sewage should be released into lakes and not divert sewage from one locality to downstream localities. Sewage generated in each locality to be treated locally”, Prof Ramachandra said.

Environmentalist A N Yellappa Reddy said.“There is no point in blaming BWSSB, which has no control over activities mainly related to construction of buildings. The government first allows development of authorised and even unauthorized layouts, without keeping space to lay water and sewage pipelines or roads.” Citing lack of farsighted vision from the government, he said that buildings have been constructed illegally in places where there are lakes, raja kaluve and storm water drains.

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