Monday, September 07, 2009

Sink or swim: Lake proposal snubbed

Sink or swim: Lake proposal snubbed

September 7th, 2009
By Our Correspondent



Bengaluru, Sept. 6: The proposal to hand over 55 lakes to Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA) has met with stiff opposition from the forest department.
The government is planning to give the lakes, which are presently controlled and managed by the forest department, to the civic authorities for development. IT and BT minister Katta Subramanya Naidu had recently said that BBMP and the BDA can manage the lakes better than the forest department.
The reason given for the move is that the forest department does not have any funds to develop the lakes. But department heads wonder why the government wants to develop lakes instead of taking steps to preserve them.
“There is no logic in handing over the lakes to other departments. The lakes which are already under the control of BBMP and the BDA have been reduced to mere water storage tanks instead of serving as ecological wetland systems,” a senior forest officer from the urban forest division said.
“Several lakes managed by other departments were converted into layouts in the past and the ones that are being developed now are affected by heavy land use,” said a senior forest officer from the urban forest division. Before the government handed over a few lakes to the Lake Development Authority, BDA and BBMP, about 114 lakes were controlled and managed by the forest department which later came down to 55. Moreover, the Lakshman Rau Committee and several other petitions filed in the high court by eminent citizens from the city strictly ban any kind of non-forest development in and around lakes.
“There are several legal hurdles to handing over the lakes to other departments which is driven by engineering and not ecology. Scientific preservation of lakes and water bodies can be carried out only by the forest department besides ensuring that the lake is free of encroachments,” the officer added. Director general of forests, government of India, P.J. Dilip Kumar, had submitted a detailed report on the condition of water bodies in Bengaluru last year when he was state PCCF.
In the report, he had mentioned that lakes which are not managed by the department had no biological value left whereas the one under the department seemed to be doing well in terms of biodiversity, fish population, birds and ground water recharge.

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