Thursday, March 04, 2010

Many lakes have 'disappeared' in Bangalore: study

Many lakes have 'disappeared' in Bangalore: study
Bangalore, Mar 4 (PTI)

Many of the lakes in the city have 'disappeared' along with their water-spreads due to the rapid and unbridled urbanisation here, a study said.

The research study, published by city-based Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), paints a grim scenario with further worsening of the water-bodies if the state government fails to get its act together.

Interestingly, the available data with the Irrigation Department and the Directorate of Economics and Statistics neither show any decline in the number of lakes nor irrigation potential created, the ISEC release said today.

"Besides this, the data on several aspects is missing. Even the existing information on various aspects shows wide variations across sources. For instance, the information on water-spread area of 125 lakes varies across sources," Dr P Thippaiah, the author of the report, said.

The survey found that beds and drainages of several tanks were utilised for residential layouts, construction of roads, public offices and shopping complexes.All these were done without keeping in mind about the problems during the monsoon, it added. The research, which tracked the present characteristics of lakes, encroachment issues, rejuvenation of lakes and tank maintenance measures, underlined the need of government's participation while planning new projects and residential layouts.

"If possible, the tanks/lakes and their irrigated area (which is more fertile) should be kept out of acquisition, and dry land around them may be used for residential purposes," Thippaiah said in the study titled 'Vanishing Lakes: A Study of Bangalore City'.
The government should also initiate appropriate action against individuals and companies who encroach on the tanks in collusion with officials by fabricating documents of encroached lands, the study said.

Lake Development Authority (LDA), supposed to coordinate with several civic agencies and maintain a good data base about the tanks, has failed to prevent encroachments, largely due to lack of manpower and inadequate finances, it claimed.

The management of all lakes, currently under LDA, should be transferred to Bangalore Development Authority and Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, as they have sufficient resources and manpower to implement restoration programmes, it added.

There were also cases wherein private lease holders were found to overuse the lakes for commercial purposes and also encroach for expanding their activities.Thippaiah suggested creation of Tank Users Groups (TUGs) who can be trained by LDA in matters of maintenance for rehabilitation of lakes.

"It is the right time to take back leased out lakes from different agencies and departments, and entrust the same to the local residents for maintenance on the lines of TUGs in the rural areas," he observed.It was seen that the rapid growth of IT, IT-enabled services, corporate sector and other business establishments in the city has caused rapid urbanisation, affecting several tanks.

In several parts of the Garden City, irreparable damages have been done to lakes with private individuals dumping wastes and discharging sewage water into them.
"Public awareness should also be created about the lakes. Schools and colleges should be involved in the maintenance of lakes," Thippaiah stressed, adding that engineering colleges could be roped in to develop and monitor a lake/tank each.

It was also noted that restoration of lakes had become essential to enrich groundwater recharge, to mitigate drinking water shortage, particularly when bore-wells here were drying up due to overexploitation and loss of water bodies.

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