Proposal for toy train track around Bengaluru lakes draws ire

The lake in J.P. Park.   | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

A proposal to lay tracks, run toy trains and build vintage train stations around two lakes – Mallathahalli and the one in J.P. Park in Rajarajeshwari Nagar – has drawn the ire of conservation activists.

The proposals by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for rejuvenation of the lakes show train tracks passing through Mallathahalli lake at two points, a glass house on an artificial island and hanging bridges connecting the island to the bund.

A third lake in the area, Halagevaderahalli lake, will have an artificial island, which will be home to a food court.

Senior civic officials said they had little to do with the plans.

“We have not made these proposals. It is part of the government's directions,” a senior civic official claimed.

The BBMP has submitted them to the Karnataka Tank Development and Conservation Authority (KTDCA) for clearance, which is unlikely to come, said sources in the civic body.

Proposal for toy train track around Bengaluru lakes draws ire

While the proposals are yet to be ratified by the Technical Advisory Committee in the civic body and the KTDCA, the government has already allocated ₹50.5 crore for rejuvenation of the three lakes. The allocation was part of the new action plan approved by Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa in September 2019 as part of the ‘Nava Nagarothana’ scheme.

Citizens’ groups that have been at the forefront of ensuring that Bengaluru’s lakes are rejuvenated in a sustainable manner are baffled by the proposal.

“These developments will effectively kill the natural lake ecosystem and will turn them into amusement parks,” said V. Ramprasad, convenor, Friends of Lakes.

“Such developments clearly violate multiple High Court and National Green Tribunal orders, and will face legal challenges,” said Leo Saldanha, Environment Support Group (ESG).

The Karnataka High Court had recently stayed a proposal to install a 20-feet Shiva statue in the middle of Begur lake. The two-part N.K. Patil report on lakes, part of a 2012 High Court order, stipulates that even a walkway should not be built on the bund of a lake as concretisation affects the flow of water into and out of the lake, said Mr. Saldanha.

The proposals for the two lakes in R.R. Nagar mention construction of a retention wall.

Both Mallathahalli and J.P. Park lakes are part of R.R. Nagar Assembly constituency, earlier represented by Munirathna, now disqualified for defecting to the BJP. A bypoll is yet to be held owing to an election petition challenging Mr. Munirathna's election pending in the Karnataka High Court.

Sources in both the BJP and the BBMP claimed that the lake rejuvenation proposals are championed by the former MLA.

Despite repeated attempts, Mr. Munirathna was not available for comment.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 12:09:15 AM |

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