Sunday, June 06, 2010

Hope springs for City’s extinct lakes

Hope springs for City’s extinct lakes
Subhash Chandra N S, Bangalore, June 5, DH News Service:

Amid the phenomenal building activity of the last 15 years, when hundreds of City lakes were filled in by land sharks for constructing high-rises, there is hope now that several of Bangalore’s water bodies that had earlier dried up could be revived.

A recent study by the Lake Development Authority has stumbled upon old land records that have thrown up startling findings: the City once had over 700 lakes which, over time, dried up or were encroached upon by land sharks for constructing buildings. The study’s results have also shown that 200 such sites exist untouched in Anekal taluk of Bangalore Rural district.

There are historical records that suggest that Bangalore was a city of thousand lakes. But experts, including former forest official Lakshman Rao, found that the City had merely 250-300 water bodies. The latest LDA study, conducted over the past few months, has given fresh hopes that discovery of 737 lake areas (237 in the urban district) and 500 within the existing Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) jurisdiction, could be revived and returned to their former glory.

The LDA has completed 90 per cent of its study and the final report will be compiled in the course of the next two weeks before it is submitted to the government. “The findings will provide us a clear picture of not only the number of lakes but also their status so that the government may take a view on how best to protect them,” said LDA chief Uday Veer Singh who is also the state’s Chief Conservator of Forests.

The study was conducted by a six-member team, including four foresters and two engineers, who pored through old revenue records to establish their discovery. Singh said that while there are several theories on how the City’s lakes came up in history, Raj records describe Bangalore as the land of thousand lakes. “This number has, however, varied over time. The latest study will provide a detailed picture,” Singh told Deccan Herald. As many as 15 parameters were chosen to survey the lakes and land areas which were previously water bodies but have remained untouched by realtors and builders. While physical inspection of the sites helped ascertain the existence of the lakes, other parameters like presence of water, status of bunds, the potential for revival, survey and other aspects were also examined.

“The identified sites will be surveyed and fenced. The objective would be to reclaim most of the sites,” Singh said, indicating the government’s willingness to protect them. Once this exercise is over, the LDA will take the initiative to turn these spaces into water bodies that will contribute to tiding over the perennial water scarcity that Bangalore experiences.

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