Tuesday, 2 June 2015



Tanks were constructed earlier to store water mainly for agricultural activity and for drinking water, bathing, washing of cloths and animals, gardening etc. Agricultural activities using water from lakes in Bangalore like ; Ulsoor Lake, Hebbal Lake, Sankey Tank, Akkithimmanahalli Tank, Sampangi Tank, Miller Tank, etc were discontinued due to urban development of lands all round the lakes, which were put to use for residential and other urban purposes.
When the urban area was small, water from these lakes were used for water supply to the residents. When the urban areas expanded with more population, the quantity of water from these lakes was not adequate. Reservoirs and dams were constructed to meet the requirement of large quantity of water like ; Hesarghatta Reservoir and Thippagondana Halli Reservoir. When water is not drawn for drinking water supply, they continue as lakes for environmental purpose, charging of underground water, and environmental improvement.
Lands along the natural valleys feeding rain water to the lakes, and government lands attached to the lakes are being encroached upon due to its potential for urban development. Builders, politicians, influential persons and land grabbers were found to be involved according to the enquiry reports and press reports. These encroachments reduced the open areas in the city and further tree planting is affected. Inaction by the officials /agencies to prevent the new encroachments and removal of existing encroachments has resulted in reduction of flow of rain water to the lakes. Reduced flow to Thippagondanahalli and Hesarghatta reservoirs are mainly mentioned in the media reports to cite some examples.
Other reasons for reducing the flow of rain water to the lakes is that the urban development in the catchments areas of the lakes which is not according to the natural terrain and slopes. The local authorities and the developers get the lands bull-dozed to make it a level land before taking up development. Due to such developments affecting the natural terrain , flow of rain water to the natural valleys get disturbed.
The natural valleys feeding rain water to the lakes are used by the City Corporation as major storm water drains (SWD). Debris and garbage are dumped in the major, minor, and road side storm water drains which affect the flow of rain water to the lakes. Due to all the above reasons, the capacity of the lakes is reduced, and during heavy rains low lying areas like; H.S.R. Layout, Koramangala, Viveknagar, Shivajinagar, etc get flooded.
In the old built-up areas of the City like; Kalasipalyam, Shivajinagar, etc owners of small properties do not take sewerage connections and the waste water flows into the storm water drains and reaches the lakes polluting the water in the lakes. Due to inaction by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board (BWSSB), water pollution in the lakes continues creating unhealthy environment in the built-up areas around the lakes.
Underground water feeding water to the bore wells installed due to shortage of water supplied by BWSSB is affected due to reduced recharging of underground water by the drying of lakes and their reduced storage. Earlier, water was available in the bore wells within the city at a depth of about 100 to 150 feet. But, now due to lowering of underground water table, water is available at a depth of 600 to 1000 feet. Reports indicate that underground water in Bangalore Urban and Rural districts are over exploited.
In Bangalore, Urban and Rural districts, there were 72 and 100 lakes which were of more than 100 acres in area respectively. The number of lakes with less than 100 acres was 540 and 453 in these districts. It is reported that 56 Lakes have been used for urban development to form extensions, sports stadiums, bus stand, public and semi-public uses, etc., by Government, BDA, and BBMP. Only recently, utilisation of lake areas are banned after protest from environmentalists citizens action groups, and on the the directions of the Honourable High Court in public interest litigations. Examples of such misuse are; Kanteerava Stadium, Subashnagar Bus Stand, Miller Tank area, Football Stadium, Hockey Stadium, etc. The proposal of BDA to form a residential extension in Shinivagalu Tank Bed area near Koramangala was dropped due to objections against misuse of tank area.
At present there are 185 tanks in and around Bangalore City. In the year 2009, there were 160 Lakes in the City. BBMP had announced taking up restoration of 20 Lakes. Even, BDA had announced the development of 12 Lakes in the first phase. Only recently, Munnekolala Tank was rejuvenated by BBMPat a cost of Rs. 3.85 crore.
Misuse of lake areas should be avoided. The Government and other bodies have to take up rejuvenation schemes to restore the lakes as per their recent announcements. The recommendations in the Report of the Committee headed by the great City Administrator Sri. N. Lakshmana Rau to revive and restore 127 lakes in Bangalore is to be taken up on priority basis. Financial assistance available from foreign governments to develop Lakes may be fully utilised. Further, contributions may be obtained from big companies for improvement of lakes.
Earlier, 114 lakes were handed over to the Forest Department. According to the recent statement of the Lake Development Authority, the lakes will be developed and naturalistic tree planting provided by the Department. The Lake Development Authority will have to be active and take up development of other lakes not proposed so far by BBMP, BDA and the Forest Department. BBMP should take intensive action to clear the encroachments along storm water drains. The cleared areas have to be protected with fencing and attempts in future to encroach has to be prevented.
The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board should give financial assistance for prevention of pollution of lakes and for rejuvenation. This Board is getting lot of income from builders and developers for issue of NOC for development of layouts and buildings.
New developments in the City and environment should be conforming to the natural terrain and contours without affecting the flow of rain water to the natural valleys feeding water to the lakes. Improvement of storm water drainage network is to be taken up by BBMP for smooth flow of rain water to the natural valleys without stagnation. Tree planting is to be taken up in the open areas where encroachments were cleared by BBMP and in the surrounding areas of the lakes.
Dumping of debris and garbage in the storm water drains and lakes should be prohibited and if dumped should be cleared daily by the BBMP staff. BWSSB should enforce sewage connections in all buildings in built-up areas of the City and entry of sewage to storm water drains and natural valleys should be stopped. This will prevent water pollution in the lakes. Private companies should not be allotted lakes as per Court directions as there is risk of misuse by the companies for earning income. Only BBMP, BDA, Lake Development Authority, Forest and Horticulture departments should take up improvement of Lakes.
New Lakes big or small are to be constructed with simple stone masonry in public parks like; Cubbon Park, Lalbagh and other park areas and large public premises. In all large townships of more than 50 acres to be developed, provisions of lake may be insisted in the area reserved for park. The valley margins prescribed in the Zoning Regulations of the Master Plan - 2015 of Bangalore should be enforced and landscaping and tree planting taken up by BBMP/BDA in those margins.
The Zoning Regulations stipulates margins of 50 mtr , 25 mtr, and 15 mtr ( measured from the centre of the valley/drain) respectively for primary( major), secondary(minor), and tertiary (branches of minor valleys). While approving development plans , valley margins as above are shown by BDA in the plans. But, strict enforcement of valley margins should be done by BDA/BBMP to see that more open spaces are available for improvement of urban environment. Violations reducing the valley margins should be dealt with , and landscaping and tree planting taken up.
Cadastral maps showing all lakes may be prepared and made available to all agencies and departments in Bangalore for reference, guidance, and enforcement Minor Irrigation Department may be entrusted to take up survey to form new tanks in Bangalore Urban and Rural districts and implement the same for future requirement of lakes in the City and to recharge the underground water.
The recommendations in Phase-1 of the Report brought out by Environment Protection groups , Save Bengaluru Lakes Trust( SBLT) , and Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF) should be considered and their effort appreciated. The groups may also be requested to mobilize funds from private sector to implement proposals for rejuvenation of lakes and to maintain those lakes. It is necessary to prevent pollution for clean water, increase capacity, and grow number of trees according to landscape design, etc. The above voluntary organisations may act as watch dogs to prevent encroachments of lakes, and pollution. The encroachers should be prosecuted for their illegal actions affecting the environment of the city.
Action is to be taken on the directions of the Honourable High Court for prevention of encroachments and improvement of lakes. The Honourable High Court may kindly review the progress of implementation of its directions and issue directions to the authorities in the interest of environmental improvement in the city. Lake Trusts may be formed for all the lakes with residents of the areas around the lakes. Resident welfare associations may also involve in the protection and improvement of lahes in their areas.
There is awareness now throughout the World about the bad effects of Global warming and the need to reduce the effects of air pollution by planting more trees, providing more parks and open spaces, conserving energy, compact developments instead of urban sprawl, etc. It is, therefore, necessary to take actions for restoration of lakes to improve urban environment.

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