Thursday, November 06, 2008

Bangalore: No more 'City of lakes'

Bangalore: No more 'City of lakes'


Express Features
First Published : 05 Nov 2008 03:10:00 PM IST
Last Updated :

Bangalore’s once popular sobriquet “city of lakes” is slowly losing its significance.

For centuries, the city was blessed with several hundreds of lakes and tanks, due to the great vision of the city’s founder, Kempe Gowda, who built chains of such water bodies to impound run off water while utilizing the same for the serving the water needs of the people.

Even in the second half of the 20th century, the number of lakes in the city stood at 262. Sadly, as per satellite imagery of 2003, only 33 lakes are visible, out of which only about 18 exist in some shape.

These lakes have continued to serve the traditional purposes apart from helping maintain the eco system of the city.

And, with the passage of time, due to rapid urbanisation and improper environment planning the functions served by the lakes and tanks have gradually changed. Research studies have shown that traditional uses such as drinking, or for livelihood activities such as agriculture, livestock, fishing, washing, etc. still continue in the city, despite the dislocation in many places of villages and traditional users. In fact, in a study done on Hebbal lake by Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science on Economic Valuation of Wetlands in 1999, suggested that lakes were being used for what is called as direct use benefits, i.e., agriculture, fishing, fuel wood, harvesting etc.

Increasing demands on land for real estate and infrastrucutre as well as illegal encroachments have led to the depletion of lakes. Many lakes which once enhanced the beauty of the city have been converted into bus stands, stadiums etc. Majestic bus stand, NGV sports complex, KGA golf course, residential layouts like Domlur were all built by filling lakes.

Today, Bangalore has a handful of freshwater lakes and water tanks, the largest of which are Madivala tank, Hebbal lake, Ulsoor lake and Sankey Tank.

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