Multi-crore project swallows Bellandur wetland

The KIADB-sanctioned project under way in Begur includes apartment complexes, malls, a hotel, office space, and a parking lot. Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.  

A colossal “mixed-use development project” under way in Begur, involving apartment complexes, malls, a hotel, office space and a parking lot for 14,438 cars, has virtually obliterated a major wetland that abuts the Bellandur lake, violating land-use guidelines, a recent study reveals.

An analysis of satellite imagery and field surveys by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) shows that the wetland (a marshland ecosystem typically found around water bodies) between Agara and Bellandur lakes, has shrunk from 32.8 hectares in 2007 to 5.95 ha in 2012.

The report by the Energy and Wetlands Research Group at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc., claims that the project location violates the Master Plan of 2015 as well as environmental guidelines.

Besides the destruction of the wetland, the study claims that the lake-bed and a ‘raja kaluve’ (storm-water drain) have been encroached with construction debris, and that a second raja kaluve is seeing “gradual encroachment”.

The 80-acre project was sanctioned by the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB).

According to sales deeds with The Hindu, 63 acres was allotted to Manipal ETA Infotech Ltd. (in Agara and Jakkasandra village) in June 2007; and 17 acres to Coremind Software and Services Pvt. Ltd. (in Agara village) in March 2008.

Master plan zoning maps show that several survey numbers of the project site fall under categories that cannot be legally allotted to private enterprises for development: those earmarked for ‘public utility’, others in ‘valley’ zones and a few on the Bellandur lake-bed and its canals.

Risk of floods

A development project of this scale — Manipal’s ETA project alone is worth Rs. 2,347 crore — on Bellandur’s wetland is an “irrational decision”, says the report, adding that wetlands are “vital components of the regional hydrological cycle” helping with flood mitigation and groundwater recharge.

With the hydrological interconnectivities gone and the natural topography altered, residential areas here now risk floods, says the report.

After repeated efforts made by The Hindu to get a response from KIADB to the report findings, a senior officer said they needed to conduct a “spot visit” to “gather the facts”. Finally, to an email that they requested, the KIADB said the information “has to be obtained from the local planning authority”.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 6:28:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/multicrore-project-swallows-bellandur-wetland/article4775708.ece

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