Saturday, August 18, 2007

Lakes get new lease of life

Lakes get new lease of life
17 Eco-Friendly Water Bodies Will Come Up By August
Prathima Nandakumar | TNN

Bangalore: Next August, Bangalore can boast of 17 ‘environmentally sound’ lakes. Thanks to the BBMP’s move to develop them under JN-NURM, these will now be developed on the lines of the neighbourhood lakes — Sankey, Yediyur and Ulsoor lakes — which provide free access to citizens.
“We have developed Ulsoor, Sankey and Yediyur lakes. By next August, 17 more lakes will turn clean and green. We have identified consultants who will prepare a detail project report (DPR) for lakes in four packages. We hope to get over Rs 40 crore for environment projects,’’ said Krishna Udapudi, deputy conservator of forests.
Meanwhile, a fresh controversy is afflicting lake revival. The privatisation of lakes under public private partnership (PPP) is drawing flak from people.
A proposal for a floating restaurant at Hebbal Lake was dropped amidst growing protest as environmentalist feared that it would destroy the pond ecosystem.
The green brigade is apprehensive about commercial activity in and around lakes as they feel it would destroy the water body, citizens fear that exorbitant entrance fees would deny them access to these water bodies.
“First, the nursery at Hebbal Lake was destroyed to make way for a Ring Road. Next, its serenity was put at stake with a proposal for a restaurant in the middle of the lake. While we are apprehensive of the PPP model for lakes and gardens, we oppose any interference with nature,’’ said Leo Saldanha, Environment Support Group.
“Of 280 lakes, the city now has only 34. Most revival projects are ignoring the ecosystem component. A lake should be treated as an ecosystem, not a commercial venture,’’ said Harish Bhat, biodiversity expert and member of BBMP’s biodiversity management committee. A lake is usually saucer-shaped and gets recharged through inlets from the catchment area.
This supports a vast species of phytoplanktons, zooplanktons, birds and animals. But most lakes are desilted wrongly and end up plugging inlets to prevent sewage inflow and this destroys biodiversity.
However, the question worrying the BBMP is the recurring cost of maintaining all these lakes.
“Every year, we spend Rs 25 lakh on each lake on maintenance. PPP was proposed to help raise funds. We’ll need sustained efforts and funds to keep lakes healthy,’’ said a senior BBMP official.
BBMP’s fears are unfounded, say experts. “We have recommended simple steps to maintain lakes, like wet dredging for desilting, banning commercial activity, and treatment of sewage water before letting it into the lake. We cannot desilt by siphoning out water as it destroys water species. Moreover, we need stringent measures to ensure that no sewage flows into lakes from residential, commercial and industrials units,’’ said Bhat.
Lakes under JN-NURM
Rachenahallikere, Puttenahalli (north), Allasandra, Jakkur, Yelahanka, Kaudenahalli, Chinnappanahalli, Kaikondanahalli, Ambalipura Kere, Uttarahalli tank, Puttenhalli (south), Dore Kere, Dasarahaalli, Nayanadahalli, Malgal lake, Deepanjali lake and Ullala Kere Lakes under PPP (Develop, Operate and Transfer — DOT)
Nagawara Lake — Lumbini Gardens Private Ltd Status: Functional since 2006
Hebbal Lake — East India Hotels Ltd (EIH) and Oberoi Group Status: Being developed
Vengayyahanakere — Par.C Status: Being developed
Agaram Lake — Biota Natural System Status: Being developed


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