Friday, February 12, 2010

Lake rejuvenation: An uphill task

Lake rejuvenation: An uphill task

The BBMP and BDA are pouring crores into giving bangalore's lakes a new lease of life. but how effective has the campaign been and are lakes showing signs of revival? DNA's selvaprakash l and bosky khanna find out

Bosky Khanna. Bangalore

As a project assistant with the Centre for Ecological Studies at IISc, Alka Nanda has been working on the rejuvenation and restoration of lakes for more than a year but says the struggle for protection is still on.
She recollects staging protests with students from KK High School last year near Varthur lake requesting the government to clear sewerage. A memorandum was also submitted, but a response from the government is yet to materialise.
Bellandur lake near Koramangala, spread across 890 acres, is one of the most polluted in the city. Nanda says it too suffers the same fate as every day over 400 million tons of sewerage flows into it. Students also formed a human chain to prompt the government to take immediate action for protecting Ullalu lake. The lake has been completely dried for desilting and artificial bunds are being created for protection. Officials remain blind to the fact that they are creating another Sankey Tank — lifeless with no sign of aquatic life.
Soil and water resource consultant Dr NG Raghu Mohan pointed out how a healthy and balanced eco-system was important for the survival of lakes in Bangalore as the city does not have a river body to meet its needs for drinking water. "The lakes help recharge the groundwater table," he said.
He asserted that most lakes are vanishing today because of unplanned development. Lakes at low- lying areas have been dried up for apartment construction. Ironically, borewells are then dug to source water.
Waking up to the important role lakes play in restoring the groundwater table and meeting drinking water needs during the scorching summer, the state government inaugurated a series of lake restoration and rejuvenation projects last year. The tasks were handed over to BBMP and BDA.
BBMP is presently working on restoring 17 lakes in the city. They are Doraikere, Puttenahalli, Yelahanka, Kalkere, Dipanjali, Uttarahalli, Ambalipura's Malinakere, Dasarahalli, Chinnappanahalli, Kaikondanahalli, Malagal, Kodigehalli, Allalsandra, Attur, Koudenahalli and Nayandanahalli. The work started in March 2009 with a budget of Rs190 crore. Recently they were given six more lakes — Harohalli, Bellandur, Varthur, Doddabommasandra, Hosakerahalli and Ambalipura's Kalaginakere.
This is apart from the 96 lakes which have have been surveyed and are being fenced, said a BBMP engineer who says most lakes face the problem of encroachment. Taking the example of Koudenahalli lake, the official said 34 of its total 55 acres have been encroached by slum-dwellers and locals. In fact, a private school and pre-university college have also been set up.
He added that involving many departments in the lake restoration work also meant red-tapism.
BDA has been given the task of rejuvenating and developing 12 lakes in the city. They include Jakkur, Sampigehalli, Rachenahalli, Venkateshpura, Ullallu, Mallathahalli, Komaghatta, Ramasandra, Thalaghattapura, Konasandra, Sompura and Kothnur. The cost of reviving the lakes is Rs 104.61 crore.
Noted environmentalist AN Yellappa Reddy is spearheading the lake rejuvenation and restoration programme. He is directing civic agencies to ensure that the eco-system of the lake is not lost and the water retention capacity of the lake is improved. He has prepared a detailed report on each lake.

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