Bengaluru’s Bellandur Lake, infamous for its fires, caught fire yet again on Thursday night. According to officials, the blaze broke out after some people burnt a heap of garbage in the lake’s buffer zone. The officials took 12 hours to douse the fire. Lake marshals deployed by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and personnel from the nearby Sarjapur fire station doused the flames.
Residents living in the vicinity informed authorities after they saw huge clouds of smoke emanating from the lake. The officials said that some ragpickers and labourers living around the lake might have dumped waste, including plastic and insulated wires, on its bed.
"Ragpickers living nearby burn the wires to recover copper. That could have resulted in such massive flames, that later spread to the lake's bed," a senior Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA) official said.
One of the biggest city's water bodies, the Bellandur Lake has seen similar fire incidents since May 2015 on a number of occasions, but these fire incidents were attributed to the presence of pollutants in the water.
Spread over 906 acres in southeast Bengaluru, the lake is one of 70 remaining water bodies from the 272 lakes the city once had. The lake once was a vibrant ecosystem, nurturing a variety of birds, fish and insects.
Presently, the lake, with a catchment area of nearly 279 sq. km, is heavily polluted. Over two decades, the influx of domestic and industrial waste in the lake has seen an increase. The lake is now infamous for the gigantic clouds of froth that accumulate on its surface, spilling over into the many busy roads around its shores several times a year.
In 2017, an expert committee formed to rejuvenate Bellandur and Varthur lakes during their research concluded that the soil around the lakebed is also laced with toxic metal.