Sunday, March 27, 2005

Lalbagh Lake drying up, who’s responsible?

Lake drying up, who’s responsible?

Deccan Herald

Plastic bags, bottles, newspapers, dry flowers and household rubbish — filth is steadily replacing the fish at the eastern end of Lalbagh lake at Lalbagh Botanical Gardens. Thanks to a summer onslaught, the lake is drying up leaving behind muck and mud. While visitors choose to turn their heads away from the sight, the nearly barren lake has become a hang-out zone for crows and cranes which feed on the dead fish. The lake, however, has become a fertile subject of debate for joggers and authorities, who blame each other for the decaying of the water body.

Morning joggers complain that there is no maintenance work in this part of the lake, which is closest to the Siddapura Gate opening towards Jayanagar. M Hari, a regular jogger for the last five years has never seen the lake so dry, and so dirty. “Water level has come down from six feet to only a few inches,” Hari says, pointing at the muddy stains on the rocks, left behind by the receding water.
“There is dead fish floating on the lake, but the authorities are turning a blind eye to it,” alleges Pravin Kumar, another morning walker. In fact, frustrated members of the Lalbagh Walkers’ Forum launched a signature campaign last week to draw the attention of the authorities to the ‘neglected area’.

Meanwhile, authorities consider this to be an over-reaction on the part of the joggers. “A lake is meant to be dynamic, and its rising and depleting water levels should not be any cause for concern,” says Horticulture Director Vasanth Kumar.

BDA to be blamed
According to Kumar, the dredging and desilting work conducted by the BDA has resulted in the fall in water levels on that portion of the lake. “Large amounts of soil and mud that had settled on the lake’s base was taken out while dredging. This brought down the water level,” Kumar explains. Dredging work across the 40-acre lake was completed at a cost of Rs 3.5 crore eight months ago.

Another explanation given by Kumar is that sewage water that used to get collected in the lake, is now being diverted by shifting the pipeline to Mavalli. The construction of pipelines, of diameter 600 mm, cost the Horticulture Department, the BWSSB and the BMP Rs 67 lakh. However, the security guard at Lalbagh, Paulraj, and cleaner Subramaniam say that the joggers are to be blamed as they throw the garbage into the lake every morning.


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