Petition to save lakes submitted to Governor

Oppose transfer of all water bodies to the Minor Irrigation Department

Updated - March 09, 2018 04:20 pm IST

Published - March 08, 2018 10:10 pm IST

Rachenahalli Lake

Rachenahalli Lake

More than 36 citizens’ groups actively engaged in lake conservation have petitioned Governor V.R. Vala to reject the Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority and Certain Other Law (Amendment) Bill, which proposes to transfer all water bodies to the Minor Irrigation Department.

Several groups, including Friends of Lakes, Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust (PNLIT), Jala Poshan Trust, Mahadevapura Parisara Samrakshane Mattu Abhivrudhi Samithi, submitted a memorandum to the Governor on Tuesday, which argued that urban water bodies are fragile ecosystems that need proper management practice and expert knowledge, with the involvement of multiple stakeholders.

Stating that the department has experience in managing irrigation tanks, they pointed to flaws in the reasoning that it was better equipped to scientifically develop lakes. “Urban lakes are not meant for irrigation. They are multi-functional entities, including sites of biodiversity, lung spaces, groundwater recharge structures, storage of stormwater and treated wastewater for local use. Managing urban lakes involves interfacing with multiple stakeholders, and the Minor Irrigation Department does not have such an experience,” they said in the memorandum.

The memorandum also added that it made legal and managerial sense that the life of lakes depends on quality of inflow. “This requires the involvement of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which controls stormwater drains in coordination with the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB),” it read.

Ramprasad V., co-founder of Friends of Lakes, told The Hindu that this was the first time that all the major groups working on lakes had come together. “This is a do-or-die kind of situation. There has been no discussion or consultation with technical or scientific experts. The government has circumvented the democratic process by not even seeking public opinion,” he said.

Usha Rajagopalan from PNLIT said that it was citizens’ intervention that brought back a dead Puttenahalli lake to life. “By distancing the public, the new law will kill the lakes, even those thriving under citizen custodians,” she said.

When the bill was tabled and approved in the Assembly, there was sparse attendance. “It took two years for the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Act to be passed. Even after it was formed, the KLCDA, which was mainly a regulatory body, had no staff or budgetary support. If the Bill is passed, KLCDA ceases to exist. We must not allow that,” said Prof. K.S. Bhat from the Darakki Lake Area Improvement Trust.

Citizens’ groups have started an online campaign against the bill and have garnered the support of nearly 3,000 people. It will be submitted to the Governor soon.

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