Will these, too, go Bellandur lake way?

Discharge of sewage and dumping of garbage has turned Chokkasandra lake near Peenya, Bengaluru into a stinking mess.

Bengaluru’s Chokkasandra and Chikkabanavara Lakes are in imminent danger of meeting the fate of Bellandur Lake. Sewage and toxic chemicals have been choking these two lakes and they, too, could soon start to spew fire, froth and foam. One would have thought that at least after the Bellandur Lake attained global notoriety for its fire and foaming, Bengaluru’s civic authorities would sit up and ensure that the city’s other lakes would not meet the same fate. It is distressing to note that this did not goad them into action, and two more lakes are likely to die soon. Besides garbage, industrial effluents and construction debris, animal waste from local butchers’ shops are choking the two lakes. Birds, which once visited these water bodies, are now conspicuous by their absence. It is perhaps only a matter of time before we hear of the Chokkasandra and Chikkabanavara lakes foaming, frothing or catching fire.

The pollution of Bellandur and Varthur lakes captured public attention because they caught fire several times and continue to regularly spew foam onto the road. However, the problem of pollution of waterbodies is not confined to these two lakes alone. According to environmental experts, at least half of Bengaluru’s 120-odd lakes, including Byramangala, Yellamallappachetty, Sarakki, Madiwala, Chunchaghatta, Kalkere, Harikere and Dasarahalli lakes, Chokkasandra and Chikkabanavara lakes are severely polluted. These water bodies are dying. Bengaluru was once known as a ‘City of Lakes’. Over the past two decades, it has become infamous for its burning and disappearing water bodies.

Despite all the media coverage and civil society protests over the dumping of sewage and shrinking of water bodies, civic authorities have done nothing to address the problem. Bengaluru’s lakes need immediate attention and robust action. Tackling its problems cannot be a one-time grand announcement to impress voters, but require a well-thought out strategy, an action plan with a timetable and a sustainable process. This is an urgent task because the city’s waterbodies have become cesspools, each one a dire threat to public health, flora and fauna and agriculture. Bellandur and Varthur lakes set the alarm bells ringing, but the civic authorities chose to ignore it. This callous indifference has led to more lakes going the way of these infamous lakes. In July, Karnataka’s new government set aside Rs 50 crore towards rejuvenating Bellandur Lake. Several politicians and BBMP officials have made a beeline to the lake. Tall promises were made. But nothing has been heard on the matter since. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has promised to revive all lakes. He must start to keep his promise now.

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Will these, too, go Bellandur lake way?

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