Corporates and Environment

Lakes of Bengaluru

Lakes of Bengaluru
-Susan Sharma

Unbelievable things have been happening to Bengaluru's  lakes recently.  
Bellandur lake burned for hours on the evening of 16 February 2017. (A similar event took place in 2016 too).  
Dead fish washed up on the banks of Ulsoor Lake in 2016. 

By the year 2020, 93% of Bengaluru’s landscape would be filled with paved surfaces. This drastic reduction in open and green spaces would make the region rich with green house gases, water-scarce, non-resilient and unlivable, depriving the city-dwellers of clean air, water and environment.

In the 1970s, there were still 285 lakes in the city, making it self-sufficient in its water needs. Today, however, there are just 194 lakes, and the large majority of them are sewage-fed. The rest have been lost to encroachments. 

Most of the lakes have vanished due to encroachment and construction activity for urban infrastructure expansion. The city once had 280-285 lakes of which 7 cannot be traced, 7 are reduced to small pools of water, 18 have been unauthorisedly encroached by slums and private parties, 14 have dried up and are leased out by the Government. 28 lakes have been used by the Bangalore Development Authority to distribute sites and build extensions for residential areas. The remaining lakes are in fairly advanced state of deterioration.
Some of the major lakes that disappeared over the years are:

Shoolay lake changed to Football stadium
Akkithimmanhalli lake changed to Corporation Hockey stadium
Sampangi lake changed to Kanteerava Sports Complex
Dharmanbudhi lake changed to Kempegowda Bus Station
Challaghatta lake changed to Karnataka Golf Association
Koramangala lake changed to National Games Complex in Ejipura
Siddikatte Lake has now become KR Market
Karanji tank is the Gandhi Bazar area
Kempambudhi is now a sewerage collection tank
Nagashettihalli lake changed to Space department
Kadugondanahalli lake changed to Ambedkar Medical College
Domlur lake changed to BDA layout
Millers lake changed to Guru Nanak Bhavan, Badminton Stadium
Subhashnagar lake changed to Residential layout
Kurubarahalli lake changed to Residential layout
Kodihalli lake changed to Residential layout
Sinivaigalu lake changed to Residential layout
Marenahalli lake changed to Residential layout
Shivanahalli lake changed to Playground, Bus stand
Chenamma tank changed to a burial ground, Banashankari 2nd Stage
Puttennahalli tank changed to J.P. Nagar 6th Phase
Jakkarayanakere has been converted into a sports ground
Kamakshipalya Lake is converted into a sports ground
Baalayyana Kere (kamakshipalya) is converted into a sports ground
Dasarahalli tank is converted into Dr. B.R Ambedkar Stadium
Bagalagunte hosa-kere in sy No 83 changed to residential layout
Bagalagunte Hale-kere in sY No.113 encroached partly, all the side of lake 

There are several invasive species like water hyacinths growing in the lake, thick enough to walk on. People dump solid waste on top of it. Because of the thickness, it creates an anaerobic environment in the water below, where methane is formed. It creates an ideal environment for catching fire.
Sustained inflow of untreated sewage has increased the organic content beyond the threshold of remediation capability of the respective water bodies. Ever increasing summer temperatures has also enhanced the biological activities that lower the dissolved oxygen levels leading to fish death due to asphyxiation.

The froth is the result of chemical waste dumped in the lake, and was toxic enough to crack windshields, wear the paint off car hoods and exacerbate the severe respiratory issues that have plagued citizens in recent years.

Stories of Hope

Jakkur lake, 160 acres, is a story of hope.  
The lake presents an inviting picture.

The lake ecosystem is now conducive to birds fishing and nesting to bring up the young ones.  Locally migratory birds like painted storks, pelicans, cormorants etc are seen in abundance.  Winged visitors from outside are also discovering the lake.

The lake is fed with eight million litres of treated water everyday, which in turn recharges the ground, increases the water table and fills up the bore-wells and the old open wells. The water levels in Jakkur are the best in the city as there has been a very good re-charging.  Jakkur lake is the most prominent lake in North East Bangalore on the way to Devanahalli and the international airport.The lake itself has been fenced all around giving it a clear boundary. The water body also supplies drinking water to the surrounding villages who are very pleased with the quality of the water.

Presence of waste recyclers just across the lake ensures the area is plastic free. 

So is Allalasandra, a story of hope,  a much smaller lake which has been rejuvenated.

Here is a poster which tells the story of the lake's rejuvenation at the entrance to the lake

On a recent visit to Bengaluru, I was appalled at the state of Bellandur lake, Puthenahalli lake, Varathur lake etc.  Blatant encroachment and apathy towards the lakes are apparent everywhere.  A video put together from some of the video clips I took can be watched at 

Share widely to spread awareness.   Becoming aware is the first step to positive action.

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