Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lakes: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

THE GOOD, THE BAD, the ugly
Ideal haunt to relax
Bangalore, once a city of lakes, is left with only a few of them. Many are neither clean nor citizenfriendly. TOI looks at the state of the city’s main lakes and what the government has planned for them

Misplaced priorities
Lake restoration works on the principles of desilting and deweeding, coupled with diversion of sewage drains that enter the lakes. In Bangalore, even as basic issues like dumping of garbage are left unaddressed, plans have been lined up for “beautiful islands’’ for birds and possibilities of water connectivity through lakes. Working on an international partnership, the Lake Development Authority (LDA) has taken up projects, the results partly reflected in lakes in Madiwala and Hebbal. The move to hand over the maintenance of the lakes in the BBMP jurisdiction to the palike itself is something the environmentalists are keenly watching. A reversal of fortunes for the lakes may still be a long shot.
Plans and more plans
From about 250 lakes three decades ago, Bangalore has less than 80 now
Nagawara, Hebbal lakes were taken under LDA’s PPP beautification programme
Private firms did restoration on a lease basis; worked as a pilot project
Nagawara, Doddabommasandra among lakes desilted in initial phases
100-odd lakes were also handed over to forest department; no major headway
Environmentalists say more than half the lakes need major restoration
Various civic agencies, in different capacities, monitor development
Sites of Kempe Gowda bus stand, Kanteerava stadium, golf course were lakes
How should lakes be maintained?
For lakes to not get polluted like this there should be a filtering mechanism in the storm water drain. The solid waste like plastic should not be allowed to get in to the lake. They should make lagoons or wetlands near the lakes where the wastewater goes and settles. These lagoons should have alum columns, a perforated column so that sediments settle fast. The clear water on top can then be let in to the lakes. Cost effective interventions like this have not been built in. So even though some lakes have improved, the quality of water is deteriorating.
BBMP plans
17 lakes had been transferred to BBMP by LDA last year. According to BBMP’s executive engineer in-charge of lakes M D Nadas, consultants have been engaged to prepare detailed project reports for the development of these lakes. The projects are under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), under which 35% of the funds will be contributed by the government of India, 15% by the government of Karnataka, and 50% from the BBMP funds. A budget of Rs 190 crore has been decided on for the development of these 17 lakes. The timeline is phased, with each project allotted between 18 and 24 months.
Four lakes - Sankey tank, Ulsoor, Yediyur and Kempambudi have been developed by the BBMP. The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board is monitoring the water quality of all the lakes regularly. The four lakes under BBMP have provisions to divert the sewage. At the entry point they have wetlands, which act as biological filters to sieve the solid waste from entering the lakes.


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