Bengaluru

‘This lake is fed by dirty laundry water’

Situated off Hennur Road, the Doddagubbi lake, once considered sacred by the locals, is now at the receiving end of not just sewage from nearby residential buildings, but also from a laundry unit, started about four years ago. Photo: K. Murali Kumar  

Images of the city’s Bellandur and Varthur lakes frothing up are vivid and recurring. It is not just the sewage effluents that have been termed the culprits; the presence of detergents too has been blamed for the pathetic condition of the city’s lakes.

In a different part of the city, another lake bears a similar threat. Situated off Hennur Road, the Doddagubbi lake, once considered sacred by the locals, is now at the receiving end of not just sewage from nearby residential buildings, but also from a laundry unit, started about four years ago.

Though the owner of the laundry unit, which caters to hospitals, washing and drying around 500 pieces on a busy day, says water is not let into the lake, the smell of detergent is conspicuous from the small stream that joins the boundary wall of the laundry unit, eventually joining whatever little is left of the lake. Spanning an area of over 100 acres, the lake now has water in pockets.

“There was even frothing once,” said Ravi Shah, a resident, who has been knocking on the doors of several agencies, including the Minor Irrigation Department, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike and Lake Development Authority, sounding them about the impending disaster. Recently, he even started an online petition to save the lake, gathering 300 signatures so far.

He is not alone. Other residents also looked visibly discomforted with the laundry letting its effluents into the lake, accusing those managing the unit of failing to respond positively to their reminders.

“The unit was granted permission by the Doddagubbi Gram Panchayat and has been here since four years. We had asked them not to let out the water from the laundry unit into the lake. But nothing has been done,” said Balaji, a former panchayat member. His wife Savitha is now a member of the panchayat.

Denying these allegations, the owner of the laundry unit said water was being transported to a treatment plant on a monthly basis. “The contractor’s vehicle collects close to 5,000 litres of used water each month. What you see is the rajakaluve with water from elsewhere,” he said.

KSPCB to take note

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has already taken cognisance of the dangers of laundry units operating near lakes. The board is now collating information on such units. KSPCB Chairman Lakshman said the board was finding out about laundry units around the city’s valleys. “We will begin inspecting them soon. They are supposed to discharge water only after treating it,” he added.

Why is this lake important?

Locals in Doddagubbi village associate the lake with a long history, even considering it sacred. Harini Nagendra from Azim Premji University, who has in the past chronicled the lake, said though there was no direct evidence of the timeline of the lake, there was talk of it having existed during the time of the Pandavas, with the locals being of the belief that they built the banks of the lake.

The lake has disintegrated from playing host to multiple livelihoods to now being limited to just grazing activities. “Villagers used to take bath in this lake. Water to irrigate the paddy fields would also come from the lake,” said Balaji, a native of Doddagubbi and a former Gram Panchayat member.

Insights into the lake, once considered a “perennial tank” by the Survey of India, are also offered in a write-up by Zafar Futehally, one of India’s best known naturalists and ornithologists, in the Journal of Ecological Society, 1990. Mr. Futehally, in “Dodda Gubbi: The Case of an Overused Lake,” also speaks of the tank being a valuable bird sanctuary.

Someshwara temple dismantled

The Someshwara Temple, another important landmark in Doddagubbi, now stands wholly dismantled for “improvement” by the temple trust, the locals as well as politicians, said Balakrishna, a resident of the village.

Set to cost Rs. 6.5 crore, the historical temple at the entrance of the village is now a collection of age-old pillars and stones, one of them with ancient inscription in halegannada lying on the road. A temporary, smaller temple to house the idol is its replacement. “We have taken permission from the Muzrai Department for this,” said Mr. Balakrishna.



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Printable version | May 7, 2021 10:47:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/%E2%80%98This-lake-is-fed-by-dirty-laundry-water%E2%80%99/article14382550.ece

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