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Government muddies the waters

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At cross purposes: The proposal to recycle lake water could have serious implications on recreational activities at the Nagavara lake in Bangalore.
At cross purposes: The proposal to recycle lake water could have serious implications on recreational activities at the Nagavara lake in Bangalore.

Divya Gandhi

Proposal to use lake water for drinking at odds with privatisation plans

Bangalore: The State Government’s proposal to meet the growing demand for potable water in Bangalore by tapping into 12 of its lakes, it appears, could have some serious implications on its own policy of lake privatisation. And it has already created something of an awkward rift between the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) and the Lake Development Authority (LDA).

According to the presentation made by the BWSSB to the Chief Minister on Tuesday, certain activities will not be permitted in privatised lakes, such as speed boating and floating restaurants. These activities, according to BWSSB chairperson Latha Krishna Rao, could pollute the water, thereby complicating the process of treating and recycling it for use.

However, officials at the LDA point out that among the BWSSB’s list of 12 lakes identified for this project of recycle and use are the Nagavara lake in Hebbal and Vengaiahnakere in Krishnarajapuram, which have already been established as recreational spots, complete with water sports, including speed boats and water scooters.

Leased out

These two lakes were leased out by the LDA to Lumbini Gardens and ParC Ltd. respectively, on a develop, operate, transfer basis. Another lake on the list, Agaram, has been leased out to Biota Natural Systems, though development activity has not yet begun.

This proposal, according to C.S. Vedant, chief executive officer of the LDA, would necessarily call for some major rethinking on the part of the Government on their policy on lakes. “The Government will have to cancel the licences they have issued to these companies. Alternatively, they will have to arrive at a method by which such activities can coexist with the BWSSB project.”

The treatment scheme for lake water envisages the lakes as a reservoir for treated sewage and rainwater, which will then be pumped through a micro-filtration system, treated through reverse osmosis and disinfected with chlorine before being distributed to users.

In the first phase, which involves five lakes — Nagavara, Kalkere, Belandur, Kengeri and Vengaiahnakere — 270 MLD (million litres per day) of water will be treated and recycled. Tenders have already been sought for the Nagavara and Bellandur lakes, and the project will be completed within a year and a half, said Ms. Rao. Seven lakes will be added to the network in the second phase: Doddabele, Y.M. Chetty, Hulimavu, Pillarakatte, Agaram, Puttenhalli (J.P. Nagar) and Madavara.

First rights

The BWSSB has also asked for first rights in lake water usage. “The BWSSB will need complete access to the water in order to put the systems in place. After all, the first priority on water use is for drinking. Water is meant for the public and cannot be the monopoly of anyone in particular,” she added.

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