Act fast to revive Bellandur lake

The lackadaisical attitude of the Karnataka government under Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s leadership towards preservation of the environment, particularly the lakes of Bengaluru, is highly irresponsible. The frequent and dramatic exposition of high levels of pollution at Bellandur lake, the city’s largest water body, has been causing periodic shocks to the citizens, and has besmirched Bengaluru’s reputation. But, the authorities continue to be shamelessly apathetic and inactive. When fire broke out at Bellandur recently, covering the whole lake with a thick cloud of smoke for hours, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) came up with the casual explanation that the fire was caused by garbage dumped on the lake bed. It was criminal to have allowed the piling of garbage near the lake and even more criminal that the whole lake has been turned into a cesspool of tonnes of untreated sewerage and toxic waste.

It has been a living hell for the residents of Bellandur and thousands of office-goers taking the roads around the lake, particularly in the last three years, as very often the lake has over-flowed with a voluminous amount of deadly foam that has ‘attacked’ people, mainly pedestrians and those travelling by two-wheelers. There have been innumerable complaints of lung infection, skin allergies and frequent bouts of dengue reported from the neighbourhood, all pointing to some serious health issues posed by the pollution. First and foremost, the disgorging of sewerage into the lake should stop completely. This should be the responsibility of civic authorities. Forcing individual apartments to set up STPs is not practical and it will be almost impossible to monitor them regularly. Hence, the best option for the government would be to instruct the BWSSB to take up the work on a war-footing and complete it at the earliest. Next, the pollution control board should come down heavily against polluting industries around the lake. It must invoke the latest Supreme Court judgment to close them down until they put up water treatment plants and ensure that waste is not released into the lake.

It is heartening to note that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has taken suo motu note of the Bellandur lake pollution and asked the BDA, the BWSSB, the
Lake Development Authority and the pollution control board to come up with a plan of action to rejuvenate the lake in two weeks. Expressing its unhappiness that the authorities were “ruining a city like Bengaluru,” the Tribunal has threatened to initiate prosecution of the officials under the Environment Protection Act if they
failed in their duty to protect the lake. After such a harsh warning, the Bellandur lake will hopefully see better days and return to being a clean and healthy source of water.

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