Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lakeside story: Govt is the worst offender

Lakeside story: Govt is the worst offender
Alarmed by the sorry state of many lakes in the city, the government has authorised the BBMP and BDA to look after the water bodies from now on. Ironically, these very agencies have been the biggest encroachers over the years
R Jayaprakash | TNN

Bangalore: The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) is supposed to keep a hawk eye on water bodies. The BDA and BBMP have to check and clear encroachments. But they, as well as the KSRTC and the Karnataka Housing Board, are all guilty on one count. Bangalore lakes — whose numbers have shrunk from 1,000 to 200 — have fallen prey to urbanisation and they are victims of none other than government departments.
Documents obtained by The Times of India from the Lake Development Authority (LDA) show that the KSRTC, Sports Authority of India (SAI), KHB, BDA, BBMP and the KSPCB have all gobbled up lakes. Over a period of time, the government has turned a blind eye to encroachers, thereby helping them take over these lakes for development.
On the periphery of the city, around 800 lakes have made way to house basic infrastructure. “In many cases, we have seen vested interests covering up lakes with earth during summer months when the water levels recede. In a month or two, lakes are made flat and they wait for monsoon. The lakes would have turned into flat grounds and the monsoon would have no effect.
Over a period of time, they construct a boundary wall and when it is not noticed, they start developing it. Probably this was the modus operandi used to finish off many lakes in the city too,’’ say LDA officials. The lakes in and around the city are owned by the BBMP, BDA, forest and irrigation departments. Thanks to the neglect by these departments, some lakes are dead and many are dying. Many lakes have been given for adoption under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) programme.
Apart from getting revenue through this scheme, which will help in rejuvenation of other lakes, these lakes get a fresh lease of life and turn into popular hangouts. The value additions are water sports, restaurants, amusement parks, etc.
rjay.prakash@timesgroup.com

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