Bengaluru saw flash floods in July 2016, and considering not much has changed in the city since then, the likelihood of another flood in the city is quite likely. The BBMP officials realised last year that the major cause for the flash floods was the rampant encroachment of storm water drains in the city - and in the year since this survey, only 11.2 acres of the 80 acres of encroachments in the rajakaluve network have been recovered.
But while the encroachments themselves are a problem, did you know that the rajakaluves of Bengaluru werenâ€™t planned to sustain a cosmopolitan city in the first place?
Take a look at this map of Bengaluruâ€™s storm water drains from 1792, exclusively accessed by TNM:
The map was made by the British 225 years ago to denote the storm water drains that were existing back then. Most of these drains have been encroached upon over the years, and the city has continued to add more rajakaluves, but in a haphazard manner.
â€śThe map of the tanks shows that the system of interconnectivity of lakes through the SWDs was such that it suited the agricultural purposes,â€ť explains Naresh Narasimhan, an Urban Planner and member of Citizens of Bengaluru.
And the planners of Bengaluru have either ignored this map, or have deliberately encroached upon the storm water drains in the last 225 years.
â€śOver the years, many tanks were encroached upon and they currently house residential layouts and even bus stands and stadiums,â€ť Naresh says.
For instance, the Koramangala, Domlur and Marenahalli tanks have now been converted into residential layouts, the Sampangi tank into the Kanteerava Stadium, Dharmabuddi tank into the Kempegowda Bus Station, Shoolay tank has been converted to the football stadium and the Challaghatta tank into the Golf Course to name a few tanks that have been wiped out.
The Akkithimmanahalli kere or Mudtank is where the Hockey Clubâ€™s lawn is currently located.
Activists also say that what the planners should have done is to make the maps more accurate and then plan the city.
â€śIf you look at the revenue maps which demarcate the storm water drains, they are old and are not accurate. When the city was being planned, the civic bodies did not stop to check if the SWDs were located in the same areas as in the old revenue maps. It was only recently that the civic agencies have used satellite mapping to develop the master plan for the city,â€ť says architect Prem Chandavarkar.
â€śWe need to decentralise the maintenance of the water systems and hand it over to ward-level committees. Maintaining these at community level will ensure accountability. Instead of constructing concrete SWD drains, natural drain systems must be constructed to ensure ground water recharge,â€ť Prem Chandavarkar adds.