Promises unkept, another run to save Vibhutipura lake tomorrow

Promises unkept, another run to save Vibhutipura lake tomorrow

Promises unkept, another run to save Vibhutipura lake tomorrow

Despite persistent efforts by hundreds of residents around it, the 45-acre Vibhutipura lake near HAL has been pushed to its deathbed. Desperate to save the water body from land sharks and spur the government to act on its promises, a Run4Lake is now organised on April 21 (Sunday).

The lake's challenges are mounting: Incomplete fencing by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), unregulated inflow of untreated sewage through multiple inlets, indiscriminate dumping of debris and solid waste along its boundary.

In February 2013, after much persuasion by citizens, the BDA had been entrusted with the development work. The objective was clear: To save whatever was left of the heavily encroached lake, fence it, stop sewage inflow, deweed and develop an ecosystem around.

As the government agencies floundered, residents kept up the momentum. To interact with the agencies and involve volunteers and Residents’ Welfare Associations (RWAs) in the rejuvenation efforts, they formed a trust, VIKAS (Vibhutipura Kere Abhivruddhi mattu Samrakshane Samiti).

Over 300 residents had turned up for the first Run4Lake on June 19, 2016. This year, many more are expected. To bring back the lake's lost glory, VIKAS spearheaded the 1kTrees4Lake initiative to plant about 1,200 plants. An estimated 800 residents actively participated in that unique effort.

But without active support from the local corporators and legislators, how much could the residents do? The local corporator, Nagaraj did promise to help stop the sewage inflow. So did the MLA, B A Basavaraj. Citizens forced an assurance from him to stop dumping of debris on the Kempanna road side. The BBMP's move to set up a waste segregation unit on the lakebed was eventually shelved.

Team VIKAS member L Venkateswara Rao talked about the emergence of another sewage inflow point near Basavanagar. “The main sewage inlet near Shastrinagar continues to add more muck to the lake. This aids weed growth,” he explained.

Besides assurances, no development work has been undertaken by the BDA, the BBMP or the elected representatives in recent years.

The Utkarsh Park, developed with great care by citizens, is threatened by anti-social elements who use it for their activities after dark. Benches used by senior citizens are broken. Early morning walkers too fear for their safety.

Treatment plant
On the request of VIKAS, the Upa Lokayukta Justice Subash Adi had visited the lake last year and advised the BDA, the BBMP and the BWSSB to take necessary action to rejuvenate the water body.

He had suggested that a 2 Million Litres Daily (MLD) Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) would be ideal for the lake. “We have been engaging with BWSSB officials; they have visited the lake to estimate the size of the STP and to identify the possible location for setting up the plant,” said Rao.

Sunday's Run4Lake will invite attention to all these issues. But, it would also be a drive to collect funds for the lake's upkeep. VIKAS has employed two permanent gardeners to maintain the trees planted around the lake.