To save a lake, Bengaluru digs a trench around it

As IT capital loses wetlands, local communities launch a campaign to stop waste dumping

May 02, 2016 02:18 am | Updated 02:18 am IST - Bengaluru:

An excavator works furiously to dig a trench around the Kundanahalli lake in Bengaluru.

An excavator works furiously to dig a trench around the Kundanahalli lake in Bengaluru.

Officials of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) have deployed a time-tested battle strategy to stop waste from entering Kundalahalli lake in the city – they cut deep trenches to block all entry points to the water body.

In a first, home guards have also been deployed to stop the illegal dumping of construction debris.

The 20-ft. long and four-ft. wide trenches and the home guards have successfully blocked trucks for the past three days from dumping waste on a piece of land adjoining the 30.50 acre lake, say BBMP officials.

Members of the local community have launched a campaign to rejuvenate Kundalahalli, which is surrounded by tech parks in Brookefield near Whitefield.

Hillock of garbage

The wetland is threatened by a 100-foot high “hillock” of garbage that continued to grow. Construction material was being dumped right on the tank bed, causing silting and encroachment. Moreover, three inlets bring sewage into the water body. Out of more than 800 lakes that once dotted India’s IT capital, only about 200 survive.

Existing ones face problems similar to Kundalahalli, such as encroachment of feeder channels and sewage inflow. Many are also threatened by dumping of construction debris. The tank beds are also being levelled and turned into residential layouts, killing the wetlands.

The familiar scenes of frothing and fire at Bellandur and Varthur lakes are also attributed to sewage inflow, which authorities seek to end by setting up Sewage Treatment Plants (STP).

No other option

The Chief Engineer (Lakes) of the civic body, B.V. Satish, said the BBMP decided to dig trenches after failing to stop rampant dumping of construction waste.

“We repeatedly asked the Tahsildar to ascertain the ownership of the land but got no response. We were left with no other option,” he said.

While two home guards have been posted temporarily, BBMP has asked the community to pool in resources and appoint security guards to provide round-the-clock protection. The home guards are not present at night, when dumping of debris takes place.

The Revenue Department is also yet to carry out a survey, which will help BBMP fence off the water body.

Arvind Keerthi, who is leading a campaign for a 720-kilolitre Sewage Treatment Plant for the site, says the rejuvenation will be nullified if the dump yard, with all the debris, does not go.

The campaign to bring lakes back to life has widened. Civic agencies and local communities have teamed up to rescue wetlands in Jakkur, Kaikondrahalli, Puttenahalli and Dorekere.

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