Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Lake Development Authority should be given more power

Lake Development Authority should be given more power

Lakes are constantly being encroached upon. The water in them may be unfit for human use

Bosky Khanna



Minister in-charge of Bangalore, who is also responsible for the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Katta Subramanya Naidu, recently remarked that the depth of the city's lakes should be increased, so that they can store more water to meet the city's drinking water needs. Noted environmentalist Suresh Heblikar spoke with Bosky Khanna about the health of Bangalore's lakes.

What do you think of the suggestion to increase the depth of city lakes?
Bangalore's lakes need constant protection and maintenance. Increasing their depth will help in increasing the storage of water in the lakes, as more rainwater can be stored and groundwater will be recharged too. However, city lakes are constantly being encroached upon, vandalised. It's hard to think the water in them is fit for human consumption.

What do you think would be the best way to meet drinking water needs and increase the ground water?
The government agencies should strictly implement the rainwater harvesting system, ensuring that all buildings are equipped for such harvesting and offering a subsidy for the purpose. The government can promote horticulture, floriculture and afforestation wherever there are barren stretches.

There are environmentalists who say that the city's lakes were connected earlier, but that has changed. Can that connection be restored?
Bangalore is endowed with natural valleys. The city's terrain is such that there were, in the past, many streams and a natural drainage system that fed the lakes. The city's natural depressions served as water bodies. Unplanned development has hampered this natural drainage system. From Hulimavu to Bellandur lake, for instance, all the water bodies were interconnected. There was a regular flow of water, and the entire city served as a catchment area for the lakes. It is unfortunate that while planning for the city, its natural topographical features were not considered.

Will increasing the number of lakes in the city artificially help? Do you have any advice to offer?
Increasing the number of lakes will certainly help in restoring to the city its salubrious climate, for which it was so renowned. Lakes serve to regulate the temperature. They serve to provide better conditions for the growth of horticultural crops. Lakes also serve as a source of livelihood for urban fisher folk. Lakes will help save energy required to supply drinking water. The Lake Development Authority should be given greater power. At present, it is not even empowered to demolish structures that encroach on city lakes. More legal and executive powers should be vested in the LDA, so that it can act in time to save the city's lakes.

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