A noose of debris tightens around Varthur lake

Shrinking prospects:  Earth movers level mud around Varthur lake, one of Bengaluru’s several threatened wetlands, on Sunday.

Shrinking prospects: Earth movers level mud around Varthur lake, one of Bengaluru’s several threatened wetlands, on Sunday.

While Bellandur lake may get a fresh lease of life as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has upped its pressure on rejuvenation, mounds of debris and mud are seeming testimony to the tightening noose around the nearby Varthur lake.

On Saturday night, residents of Thubarahalli at the edge of the 445.5-acre lake stood on their balconies and counted the numerous trucks that made way through the dusty tracks to the lake. At least 10 unique trucks were spotted, and during each of their multiple trips, a mound of mud was unloaded on the periphery of the severely polluted lake. Residents estimate at least 100 such mounds were dumped.

By Sunday morning, when The Hindu visited the spot, two earthmovers were levelling the piled mud. The level was visibly 15 feet higher than the wild growth of grass and water hyacinth that mark the wetlands of Varthur lake. What was once a field of green is now a dusty stage. Workers at the site said the mud was got from excavations at Marathahalli and Kundalahalli and that their mandate was to level it as much as they could. As the earthmovers pushed the mud over the edge, there was little to mark the boundary of the adjacent land.

Though the “encroachment” has been happening for 10 days, the pace has picked up drastically in the past few days. A report on the encroachment by Whitefield Rising, a citizen’s group, which uses satellite imagery overlaid with an image of the land-use maps of the areas, shows that the encroachment was happening from four survey numbers in two areas: Thubarahalli and Bellandur Amani Kere. This has resulted in the encroachment and diversion of the primary rajakaluve as well as a secondary drain. By conservative estimates, imagery shows the area levelled to be 6 acres, reducing the wide wetland from Bellandur lake into a narrow outlet. “NGT-mandated buffer zone of 75 m from Varthur lake has not been maintained. There is possible dumping of waste into the lake,” states the report.

Jagadish Reddy, a resident of the area who is also a part of the citizen vigilance committee, said the modus operandi points to the same processes that have led to the death of other lakes and wetlands in the city. “These are blatant violations, and a complete disregard to the orders of the NGT,” he said.

Numerous complaints were sent to the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority on Sunday.

“We are viewing this seriously, and have instructed both the Bangalore Development authority and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike to take action. We will be visiting the lake in the coming days. Private lands around lakes are being used as dump yards, and this is a clear violation of even the 30-m buffer set in the BDA’s RMP (Revised Master Plan),” said G. Vidyasagar, chief executive officer, KLCDA.

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Printable version | May 17, 2022 9:52:01 am |