Urgently needed: A lake planning policy

Urgently needed: A lake planning policy

We need a completely revamped framework to manage our lakes

Wall constructing work is going on, for reduce foam in Bellandur lake, Bengaluru on Thursday. Credit: DH Photo

Our city is going to face an acute shortage of water soon. Our water security and sustainability are totally dependent on our lakes. And yet we have never paid any attention to developing our lakes as water reservoirs.

We have focussed only on the cosmetic beautification of lakes, and creating recreation facilities around them. If we fail to set a lake planning policy in next few months, we will have a major disaster on our hands.

The lake rejuvenation projects do not address the primary requirements, because there is no framework or minimum criteria for such projects.

We need a completely revamped framework to manage our lakes:

Set up an Integrated Urban Water Management system (IUWM), in which lakes form the core, supported by the other assets such as our Storm Water Drain (SWD) network, Underground Drain (UGD) network, STPs (both private and public), wetlands, etc.

Include rainwater harvesting and flood mitigation/control in Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) and design of the lakes.

The primary focus of IUWM must be on water quality and quantity. All other needs such as recreational, social, and beautification must be secondary.

Define engineering and environmental design practices for maximizing the water-holding capacity of the lakes.

Make specific plans for ecological aspects such as littoral zone, fish varieties, flora and fauna, etc.

Plan for flood mitigation/control.

Plan to maximize groundwater recharge through rainwater harvesting.

Comply with the orders issued by the courts (The National Greens Tribunal, NGT, and High Court).

Launch a lake project only after obtaining approval from Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority (KTCDA).

Place the KTCDA-approved documents in the public domain.

Reconstitute the technical approval committee with environmental engineers, ecologists, toxicologists, hydrogeologists, limnologists, and civil engineers.