₹348 crore promised in budget for developing 59 lakes over three years

A file photo of Jakkur lake in Bengaluru.  

There is fresh hope for lakes in the city, with the State government announcing a ₹348-crore package for the development and rejuvenation of 59 lakes over the next three years.

The package is part of the ₹8,015-crore special assistance for the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) announced in the State Budget presented on Friday. The civic body will receive ₹2,300 crore during 2019–20 (to be spent over three years) of which ₹250 crore is earmarked for lakes.

Welcoming the special grant, lake conservation activists sounded caution not to squander away what could be a one-time fixing of most parts of the lake ecosystem in the city, if done right. Some rejuvenated lakes in north Bengaluru — Rachenahalli and Jakkur lakes — are a lesson as to what could go wrong, they said, as the two waterbodies are now polluted with sewage.

Some of the lakes to be rejuvenated
  • Malathahalli, Hosakerehalli, Mathikere, Halagevaderahalli, Nagarabhavi, Kalkere Rampura, Hosakere Halekere, Nagasandra, Doddakallasandra, Gunjur Palya, Basavanapura, Gubbalala, Gowdanapalya, Konappana Agrahara lakes

“Lakes are not about the lakebed alone: they are about clean water, for which the veins and nerves (storm-water drains and inlets) need to be taken care of to prevent inlet of any sewage. Unless this is ensured, rejuvenation is likely to turn into a cyclical project like repairing potholed roads,” said V. Ramprasad, convener, Friends of Lakes.

Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has set a deadline of 2020 to completely operationalise 28 sewage treatment plants (STPs) in the city, which will have the capacity to treat 1,470 MLD of sewage. “Theoretically, a capacity to treat 1,470 MLD will ensure all sewage the city produces is treated. If the rejuvenation of these lakes and the operationalisation of the STPs is coordinated, we will probably be looking at a best-case scenario for the city lakes in the recent history,” said water conservationist S. Vishwanath.

However, Mr. Vishwanath said a few more interventions were essential to prevent repeated degradation of these lakes once rejuvenated. “The BWSSB must work towards covering the entire catchment area of the lakes with underground drainage system, so that there is no direct inlet of untreated sewage into the lakes, which is mostly the case presently in 110 villages [that were added to the BBMP limits in 2007]. The design of development of these lakes must include wetlands at the inlet points to naturally treat unaccounted sewage,” he said.

Preventing sewage entry

The budget also allocates ₹76.55 crore over the next two years for projects to prevent sewage from entering storm-water drains (SWDs) at 914 entry points, which would also go a long way in preventing inlet of untreated sewage into the lakes, activists said.

BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad told The Hindu that the civic body would soon invite tenders to rope in consultants to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) for the rejuvenation of all the 59 lakes, following which these DPRs have to be cleared by the Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority, which will ensure a co-ordinated effort from the BBMP and the BWSSB regarding each lake.

₹500 crore transferred to escrow account for Bellandur, Varthur lake development

The State government has transferred ₹500 crore into an escrow account in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for development of Bellandur and Varthur lakes in accordance with the recent National Green Tribunal (NGT) order.

The NGT also appointed a committee, led by the former Supreme Court judge N. Santosh Hegde, to oversee the implementation of the order and fix accountability for any failure. The committee has already held two meetings, and Mr. Hegde told The Hindu that he would conduct a spot inspection of the two lakes on February 17.

BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad said all agencies would submit action plans for their respective roles before the committee and they would be put up on a dedicated website that would be opened for public consultation.

However, lake conservation activists have raised objections to all ₹500 crore being used on Bellandur and Varthur lakes. “Bellandur lake turning a cesspool of sewage is not an isolated problem that can be tackled at the lake. It is an upstream problem and water from 43 upstream lakes eventually comes to Bellandur lake. Unless the upstream problem is solved and sewage at these lakes is treated, whatever we pour into Bellandur lake will go down the drain,” said lake conservationist S. Vishwanath.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 2:42:47 AM |

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