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Bengaluru's first waterway project takes slow, small but steady steps

Bengaluru's historically significant stormwater drain network—K-100—is facing hiccups in its transformation into an attractive waterfront
Last Updated : 10 October 2021, 05:50 IST
Last Updated : 10 October 2021, 05:50 IST
Last Updated : 10 October 2021, 05:50 IST
Last Updated : 10 October 2021, 05:50 IST

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Bengaluru's historically significant stormwater drain network—K-100—is facing hiccups in its transformation into an attractive waterfront.

The Rs 175-crore Citizens' Water Way Project envisages changing the landscape of the 12-km-long network of stormwater drains that links Majestic, in the heart of Bengaluru, to Bellandur Lake, in the southeastern suburbs. At present, some parts of the stretch are nothing but dirty drains carrying everything from sewage to garbage to industrial effluents. There is also the problem of heavy silt and encroachments.

Work on the project began last March with a 10-month deadline, which is likely to be pushed by four months due to continuous rains during the monsoon. While there has been some progress, several stumbling blocks remain.

Only about 40 per cent of the work has been completed so far. This includes the mock-up near the Shanthinagar bus station, KH Road, which is in the final stages of completion. The network has been divided into nine different stretches.

As for the challenges, the biggest of them is to prevent sewage from getting into the primary drain. Then comes removing silt from secondary and tertiary drains.

"The entire project area of 32 acres has to be sewage-free," said B S Prahlad, Chief Engineer, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). "The project can be successful only when we can prevent the sewage inflow into the drain network. The BWSSB is working towards it."

The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) says it has been able to prevent 95 per cent of the sewage flow by laying a separate network of pipelines. "Initially, about 110 million litres per day (MLD) of sewage flowed into the valley. Now, it has come down to just five MLD. Wherever the sewage was entering the SWD, we diverted it to our network by laying a separate pipeline on the entire stretch," said N Jayaram, Chairperson, BWSSB.

However, the sewage diversion work is said have led to a confrontation between the two government agencies. "The previous pipeline network was not the standard one and was laid decades ago. We had a tough time mapping and changing it. We undertook about 140 different works to achieve this. Our engineers toiled day and night,” said another senior official in the BWSSB.

Officials say the inflow of sewage has been prevented at six of the nine stretches. If sewage still gets in, it will be treated by a 5 MLD treatment plant being built on a BBMP shed near the SJ Park. Besides sewage, authorities also have to prevent industrial effluents from being discharged. The entire stretch is dotted with shops, workshops and garages. If these chemicals aren't stopped, they may contaminate the water downstream.

On their part, BBMP officials are working overtime to prevent the dumping of garbage into the drain. “We have identified the spots where people used to throw garbage and beautified them all. We have implemented tech solutions in the adjoining areas to prevent residents from throwing garbage into the drain. If we can bring the nearby slums to the mainstream and provide facilities there, we can resolve the issue,” said a BBMP engineer working on the project.

As for removing silt, the work is almost 100 per cent complete on the first two stretches and has begun on the third, an engineer said. "The primary drain has been fully desilted. We also need to remove silt from the secondary and tertiary drains. Otherwise, it will end up in the main drain and affect the water quality," the engineer said.

The K-100 has 11 secondary drains linked to it, spanning about 15 kilometres. Desilting these drains is not easy because adjoining roads were laid only recently, the engineer added.

Municipal authorities are also working on solving the fourth challenge—identifying encroachments and evicting squatters.

Meanwhile, the 300-metre gateway to the project is getting ready near the Shanthinagar bus station. “Construction of a pathway and beautification of the footpath are almost done. Landscaping has been done on the banks of the drain. Seating arrangements are also ready," Prahlad said.

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Published 09 October 2021, 19:13 IST

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