Thursday, May 13, 2010

WANT TO TRADE YOUR LAND FOR WATER?

WANT TO TRADE YOUR LAND FOR WATER?
Even as our natural water bodies are dying, the government has a quickfix solution for the water crisis – acquiring your land to create artificial lakes
NIRANJAN KAGGERE


With the city reeling under a severe shortage of drinking water and residents slamming the authorities for doing nothing, the government has come with the idea of creating artificial lakes and ground-level reservoirs in the city to overcome the problem. The process is certain to be painful for a whole lot of residents – around 3,000 acres are proposed to be acquired from 14 different areas for the purpose.
Speaking to Bangalore Mirror on the sidelines of a water availability review meeting here on Wednesday, BWSSB minister Katta Subramanya Naidu said, “We are setting up six artificial lakes at Bellandur, Anekal, Vrishabhavati catchment area and Hebbal catchment area to collect harvested rainwater. It will be supplied to the surrounding areas for potable purposes and will be free from any pollutants. For creating these lakes alone, we need 1,320 acres.”
After identifying the places where the lakes are to be formed, a notification will be issued and land acquired. If there are residential houses there, the government will pay compensation and take over the sites.
This is no different from the strategy adopted by the government in other areas of development, whether it is SEZs, IT parks, layouts or roadwidening work. In fact, in areas like the Outer Ring Road which was developed by the government itself two decades ago, houses flanking the road have been earmarked for acquisition to carry out road-widening.
Apart from creating lakes, the government also proposes to construct reservoirs. Said Naidu, “The city’s water storage capacity is inadequate and we propose to build eight groundlevel reservoirs. We require at least 40 acres for all the reservoirs.”
OPTIMISTIC
The minister is optimistic about the acquisition process. “After the amendment to the BWSSB Act, we are entitled to appoint a land acquisition officer. We have also appointed an engineer-level officer to identify the areas to be acquired. Once they come up with a list of places, we will go for acquisition. If the land belongs to different departments, we will approach the government. In case of the public, we will pay compensation,” Naidu said.
When Bangalore Mirror asked him about the government’s immediate plan of action to overcome the water crisis, the minister expressed helplessness. “What can I do? We have been supplying water through tankers wherever there is a problem. We are ready to hire more tankers and supply water. On an average, we are facing a shortage of 300-500 MLD (million litres per day). We are trying to cope with the situation,” he said.

Minister Katta Subramanya Naidu


Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, Bangalore Mayor S K Nataraj and MLA Shobha Karandlaje during a recent inspection of the work at Ullal Lake near Bangalore University

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