A fuming affair

Cause of concern

A fuming affair

Bengaluru was once synonymous with its numerous lakes. However, those good days are now passe. It is not the same anymore, with the city growing into an urban jungle day by day.

The situation is getting worse with apartments and malls sprouting like mushrooms on dried up lakes or by the lake side.  Adding to that, garbage from apartments, malls and restaurants along with industrial wastes have converted these lakes into a dumpyard — causing water pollution and toxification of lake water — ultimately interrupting the marine ecosystem.

Recently, the smoke emanating from Bellandur lake came as a shocker to Bengalureans, although they say that these kind of incidents are becoming a common sight now.

“It is an alarm reminding everyone that the lake is dying. If no immediate action is taken to rectify the situation, it can turn into an unavoidable hazard. The Bellandur lake is the biggest lake in the city, but it is unfortunate that it is highlighted only for all the wrong reasons,” says Nabin Roy, a resident and an entrepreneur.

He points out that the poisonous gases which are enveloping the lake and lake bed is leading to the fire. The high level of pollutants like methane coming in contact with dry air results in fire. “The huge thick smoke that we saw last week is extremely harmful to humans, especially children and senior citizens. Asthma and sneezing are just two of the problems caused by inhaling this air. Pollutants like garbage also house innumerable mosquitoes and that is the primary reason for the increasing number of dengue and malaria cases. We have complained about these problems to the officials but it’s been a month and no action has been taken.”

He says that residents from the area had, in fact, showed different parts of the lakebed to BBMP officials, pointing out how bad the situation is, just days before the fire broke out, but no action was taken. The issue here, Nabin says, is even if the garbage dumping stops for a few days, it starts all over again and everything is back to where it was. 

Archana Kashyap, a computer engineer and an active volunteer of ‘Kasamukta Bellandur’, says, “We see loads of trucks coming in and dumping garbage just near the lake. There have been times when we have complained and in fact given the numbers to the authorities but no concrete action has been taken till now.

 ‘We cannot do anything because it is a private land’ is a common phrase we hear from the BBMP. Whose is this private land is what we want to know. And if it is a private land, who gives anyone the right to dump garbage on a private land; it is a crime. It should be dumped only in authorised land.”

She points out that next to the lake is a borewell. It is pathetic that the garbage trucks go in and the water tanks come out of the same place.

“We are afraid to drink water and even breath the air here. It is not just the lake which is suffering but children also. They are developing respiratory issues. We all have been working for years towards a clean lake but there is absolutely no cooperation,” says Archana.

The fact that this issue has to be solved from the grassroot level is what many residents say. “The tipping point of last week’s mishap is an emphasis on the constant problem of dumping garbage. The stink and smell of the garbage are constantly in the air and residents keep complaining about it but nothing is done. Officials come and investigate the area but there is no follow-up. Lots of promises are made but it's back to business again — dumping and burning,” says Priyanka Pandey, a homemaker and a resident of Bellandur.

She focusses on the point that due to lack of proper waste management, lake areas are now turning into landfills and dumping yards of construction debris.

 “All tech parks, new apartments and reputed builders dump the waste here instead of sending debris to designated areas that are 40 km away from the city,” she adds.

Bringing forth the study conducted by Dr T V Ramachandra on the lake last year, where he spelt out a scientific approach to cleaning and restoring the lake, Nabin says the officials have to implement it.

Nabin suggests a comprehensive plan where there is proper solid waste management. It’s time the Bellandur lake is in the news for the right reasons than the wrong ones.

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