What’s happening to Bengaluru’s lakes?

Feb 2013

The poor rainfall of the past year has resulted in several dry lakes in the city. Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, environment and lake expert Dr Yellappa Reddy explained why lakes were drying up: "All of us are aware that the monsoons failed this time and there is hardly any inflow of water to the lakes. However, lakes situated inside and adjacent to urban localities could have maintained the inflow with recycled water."

The lake beds of Dasarahalli Lake and Herohalli Lake have completely dried up. There are only traces of water at Hebbal and Kengeri Lakes. Water levels at Sankey Tank and Ulsoor Lake have also gone down owing to lack of inflow. Fishermen who obtained contracts to fish in these lakes have stopped fishing due to insufficient water levels. Read the news report here.

The deweeding of Dorekere Lake, Uttarahalli was undertaken by a BBMP- appointed contractor. However, the workers have been facing problems and they say that Dorekere Lake is wantonly polluted.

To raise funds for PNLIT, Doosra (The Story of cricket) was staged by Paradigm Creations on 13th Jan 2013.

Encroachments on Sowlkere Lake, near Sarjapur Road were cleared on 23rd Jan 2013. Around 56 houses that encroached upon the lake bed were demolished by the BBMP.

Subramanyapura Lake will be notified soon, BBMP assures HC BBMP commissioner Siddiah gave an assurance to this effect before the Karnataka high court. "It is an 18 plus acre water body. It is a lake. So far it has not been notified as a lake. Once, the debris are cleared and larger water body is recreated, it will be notified as a lake".

"The Bangalore development Authority has approved an estimate for an amount of Rs 85 lakhs. The scope of this work includes fencing the lake periphery, clearing of debris and encroachment. The work has been entrusted to Nirmithi Kendra and will be taken on an urgent basis," the BBMP commissioner has stated in his statement before the court.

To wake up the authorities to save Yelahanka Puttenahalli Lake, the Green Glow program of the Citizens Forum Yelahanka New Town organized a meeting at the lake on 31st Jan 2013 morning. About 150 students from the Yelahanka neighbourhood schools gathered at the Yelahanka Puttenahalli Lake, accompanied by their teachers. The students observed the present condition of the lake, the birds, and the reasons for its present condition. IISC professors explained to the children the reasons why pollution is occurring and ways to prevent the same and what needs to be done to rejuvenate the lake. Students were assigned projects to work on and submit their findings. Green Glow YNT will take it forward to create greater awareness and push the authorities to accelerate an action plan. (Source: Dr KS Sangunni sangunni@gmail.com)

At Basapura Kere 1, residents have succeeded in stopping the laying of a sewage pipeline, at least for the present.

Dec 2012

The High Court on 5th Dec 2012 ordered notice to the State and Central governments in connection with the pollution of Bellandur Lake. The petitioner, Kasu Venkata Rajagopala Reddy, a social worker from Bellandur, had moved the High Court seeking directions to the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) to prevent pollution of the lake.

Many other lakes in Bangalore are also affected by pollution. Subramanya Lake, said to be highly contaminated, sees turtles fleeing the filthy water.

Nine lakes highly polluted: The findings of a study conducted by the Centre for Lake Conservation, Environmental Management and Policy Research Institute (EMPRI), Bangalore, revealed that out of 81 existing water bodies in Bangalore, nine were highly polluted, 22 moderately polluted and 50 were the least polluted.

Startling findings about the Vanishing lakes of the city would hopefully wake up the City’s civic agencies. The 262 wetlands that existed in Bangalore in 1962 had declined by a whopping 58 per cent by 2007. A study conducted by the Energy and Wetland research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science indicate that the agencies better speed up on conservation of water bodies, because at stake is Bangalore’s very existence as a liveable City.

On the SaveBangaloreLakes forum, Anand Yadwad posted on Facebook, 21st Dec 2012: Today we registered our Alahalli Lake & Neighborhood Development Trust (ALNDT). Our trust will work towards bringing life back to this lake.

Venky Vasant shared the news of bund repair work starting at Akshayanagara (Nyanapanahalli) Lake during end Dec 2012. Though a small lake (6 acres) he said that there is a good inlet of rain water that will flow in from catchment area on the south side. "We have hit this stage almost after 5 plus years of followup with BBMP and now BDA."

At Puttenahalli Lake, work on a new diversion channel to get more rain water into the lake commenced. Work on deweeding the lake would also be taken up in the near future. PNLIT, the trust maintaining Puttenahalli Lake had in Sept-Oct found that a green plant was rapidly spreading over the surface. First thought to be a type of algae, it was later identified as Salvinia Molesta. Read more about the developments at Puttenahalli lake here.

Researchers from Sherwood Institute and Carollo Engineers, USA along with Bangalore-based Invicus Engineering, through signing an MOU with the BDA, are reported to be restoring seven lakes (including Agaram, Bellandur, Varthur, Madiwala, Devarabisalahalli, Doddanekkundi) that are linked through the Koramangala valley. This will take care of a fifth of Bangalore’s storm water drains also. Read the news report here.

Nov 2012

Yelahanka Lake which was restored by BBMP in the recent past is attracting lots of birds. Read Dr S. Subramanya’s observations at the lake during an early morning walk in November 2012 here.

The Save Bangalore Lakes group is now on Facebook as SaveBengaluruLakes.

Flor Luna, a researcher from the Stockholm Resilience Institute, Sweden was in Bangalore and met several people working on the different Bangalore lakes. Her thesis "Tracking key social network features for lake restoration in Bangalore" will be focusing on local initiatives for lake restoration, and the identification of the features that have been key to successfully navigate those efforts towards better social involvement and ecological impact. It expects to identify if these efforts have had an effect in "transforming" the management of lakes in Bangalore, and if so, how it has happened and in what way can it be supported.

With Flor’s presence in Bangalore, the Kaikondrahalli Lake photo exhibition (reported earlier in Aug-Sep 2012) attracted the attention of the Stockholm Resilience Institute, Sweden. Showcased at a UN convention, the exhibition garnered a lot of positive response. Read the press report here.

A group started working on saving Ibalur Lake (Ibalur, Outer Ring Road). More information is available on its Facebook page SaveIbalurLake.

Residents in the vicinity of Haralur Lake (Haralur Main Road) were desperately trying to save the lake after residents found KPTCL filling the lake with debris to erect a tower inside the lake.

At the big Narasipura Lake in Vidyaranyapura, after significant efforts by the residents, BBM has completed about 70% of the restoration work, while work on the small Narasipura Lake is to begin in the near future. Read the news report here.

Lakes are in the government’s November list of improvement projects. The Karnataka government has sanctioned a massive Rs 1,663 crore. Bangalore Mayor D Venkatesh Murthy announced grand plans including five signal free corridors, widening and asphalting of roads, nine multi-storeyed parking complexes, solid waste management projects and the rejuvenation of 20 lakes.

PNLIT has installed a cycle stand at Puttenahalli Lake, towards Encouraging the Bicycle.

The state government’s urban development department cancelled BBMP’s transfer of its top forest officer, Brijesh Kumar. See: Brijesh Kumar case: It’s State vs City.

Vibhutipura lake is another of the city’s diminishing water bodies. More than 500 residents from L B Shastri Nagar, Vignana Nagar, Vibhutipura, Annasandra Palya, Veerabhadra Nagar, Basava Nagar participated in a march to save the lake.

October 2012

4th-7th October, ATREE, INTACH, Citizen Matters and Red Frames hosted "Nature in the City". As a part of this a Nature Journalling Workshop was held on 7th October morning at Puttenahalli Lake.

Brijesh Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forests, BBMP was transferred from his post on 17th October 2012, just as he completed five months. Kumar had created a policy for lake management, submitted DPRs for developing 14 lakes, created a list of parks and also exposed irregular spending in park maintenance. Read the full story here. B V Satish, became Chief Engineer(Lakes) once more.

The team working on Kaggadsapura Lake received the Detailed Project Report (Kaggadasapura Lake DPR) from BDA, through RTI. This is what was submitted to LDA for approval. The team was seeking expert review and suggestions to improve it. Contact person Hemanth Kumar

Dr Subramanya shared some key recommendations of the Justice Patil Report (on preservation of lakes) that lake trusts/committees/societies should be aware of and take care while finalizing DPRs.

Through the past few months, several lake groups have begun to actively pursue the protection/ restoration of their neighbourhood lakes. Those that already have restored lakes in their neighbourhood have taken steps to increase the awareness of the local people and formalize their activities. Many are using social media like Facebook to increase reach.

  • Efforts are on to save what is left of Haralukunte Kere in Somasundarapalya in HSR Layout. On 7th October, residents of HSR Layout held a walk to bring the lake to BDA’s attention. Read the news report here.
  • The Arekere Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust (ANIT) has been fighting encroachments on Arekere Lake. Read the news report here. On 7th October, ANIT held a photography workshop to raise funds for its lake-saving activities.
  • Residents of LBS Nagar, team ‘Uthkarsh’ are planning a walkathon to demand restoration of Vibutipura Lake on 3rd November.
  • In August-September, the Kaikondrahalli Lake team held a photography contest to increase awareness of the lake. Selected photographs were displayed at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Hyderabad. See the winning photos here.
  • The Sarakki Lake Area Improvement Trust (SLAIT) is pursuing the Tahsildar as the survey map of the lake is pending approval for the BDA and BWSSB to commence work.
  • Pancharatna Plus of Narasipura Lake undertake regular activities to keep the interest in the lake alive.
  • Contacts of groups/ individuals involved in lake protection efforts can be found here.

The BDA announced that Home guards would be deployed to protect 13 lakes in Bangalore.

September 2012

The BBMP, in September, put out a notice seeking public opinion on the use of Gabion Technology to arrest the shearing of the existing embankment of Sankey Tank. Opinion was to be submitted by 6th Oct 2012.

Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations in Bangalore this September saw a lot of publicity for eco-friendly Ganeshas. As usual, BBMP issued guidelines for immersion. Despite this, puja remains and debris of Ganesha idols have severely damaged the lakes. Puttenahalli Lake, though not an immersion lake, had made preparations for Ganesha immersion but not many idols were brought to Puttenahalli Lake.

Migratory birds from Russia and other cold places have been nesting at Hebbal Lake since September. Read the news report here.

Basapura Lake area residents are trying to save their lake. Read the message that SaveBangaloreLakes received here.

Lakes are known to be risky to enter and unfortunately three children drowned in Kothanur Lake this September, while venturing into the water. Read the news report here.

August 2012

5th August 2012 saw a meeting of Bangalore lake teams. The public meeting was organized on Bannerghatta Road by Arakere Neighbourhood Improvement Trust (ANIT), a citizen initiative group that is working towards restoration and development of Arakere Lake. About 125-odd people including representatives of 21 lake groups were present at the meeting. Brijesh Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forests, BBMP was one of the government officials present and he indicated that the responsibility of maintaining lakes would be assigned to their neighbourhoods. Read the news report here.

Subsequent to the meeting, a group called Save Bangalore Lakes has been formed. It is presently an informal group and will assist those who need information, advice and help on lakes in Bangalore. Email to reach the group is savebangalorelakes@googlegroups.com.

In August, a Citizen Matters investigation uncovered a False promise to save Bellandur Lake, where it found that a proposed STP, said to divert sewage from the lake, would not actually help the lake.

A product developed by Nualgi Nano Biotech (NNB), a low profile biotech company in Bangalore is reported to be helping Americans to clean up polluted lakes, thanks to ‘Nualgi’. Read the news report here. In December last year, another Bangalore company Enzen also revealed its Nano Nutrient Solution (NNS) technology in Puttenahalli Lake.

About Arathi Manay Yajaman 33 Articles
Arathi is a trustee of Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust (PNLIT) and an active citizen.

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