Experts recommend urgent steps to save lakes

IISc report cites restriction of sewage inflow into lakes and expediting lake rejuvenation among steps to protect water bodies in Bengaluru. The report also includes findings from the study of water samples from Varthur lake.

Survey of lakes based on cadastral maps, dredging of lake beds, fencing of lakes and removal of encroachment are among the steps experts recommend for revival of the fast depleting lakes in the city.

These are among the suggestions made in a report compiled by Prof. TV Ramachandran of Indian Institute of Science, and his team, on the status of wetlands and lakes in Bengaluru. The report was released on World Environment Day by the Whitefield Rising Lakes’ team in association withKK School, Varthur. It includes the latest test report from the study of water samples of Varthur Lake.

Whitefield Rising Lakes’ team releasing the report on World Environment Day. Pic Latika M

The issue

Unsustainable development and growth of Bengaluru without planning for the backbone any city needs—proper sewage collection system, water supply system, roads, safeguarding wetlands and water bodies—has taken its toll. This has led to a 79% decline in water bodies and 78% decline in trees in the last four decades. This has also led to contamination of water bodies, depleting ground water, unprecedented levels of environmental pollution and flooding. Encroachment of rajakaluves or storm water drains, flood plains and lakebeds are commonplace. There is rampant unauthorised dumping of solid waste by citizens and industries in the storm water drains and lakebeds. A dysfunctional system comprising of too many para-state agencies (LDA, KSPCB, etc), lack of coordination among them, and a complete lack of accountability, compounds the problem.

“Clean air, water and environment are the fundamental rights of a citizens as per the Constitution of India (Article-21 of Indian Constitution),” points out Elangovan Kulandaivelu, a Whitefield Rising volunteer. “We want the government to fulfil this right by taking appropriate steps in a timely manner.”

Expert recommendation

  1. Expedite survey of lakes based on cadastral maps and remove encroachment. Effective judicial system for speedy disposal of conflicts related to encroachment.
  2. Fence lakes and build bunds.
  3. Expedite lake rejuvenation by employing sustainable and eco friendly technologies, dredge lake beds.
  4. Restrict entry of sewage into lakes and build wetlands around lakes.
  5. Build a sewage collection system with UGDs that will take future growth into consideration.
  6. Make land grabbing cognisable, non-bailable offence.
  7. Digitisation of land records using Spatial Decision Support System and make it open to public.
  8. Apply principle of “polluters pay” to agencies, industries etc responsible for contamination of surface water and ground water. Stiff penalty for dumping solid waste into lakes and storm water drains.
  9. Single agency with statutory and financial autonomy to be the custodian of wetlands and lakes (ownership, maintenance, enforcement and penalization of polluters and encroachers). Rationalization of functions and cooperation among various agencies involved – BBMP, BWSSB and BDA.
  10. Blanket ban on construction activities in valley zones. Emphasis on increasing green cover and restoration of lakes.
  11. Restriction on lake diversion for any other purpose.
  12. Include mandatory environmental education, with focus on sustainable development as part of school curriculum to nurture an eco friendly mindset in the citizens of the future.
 

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