Bengaluru's infamous foam water has now reached Kolar with residents observing frothy water in the tanks of the district. The water was released as part of the Koramangala-Challaghatta Valley (KC Valley) project.
The KC Valley Project transports treated water from Sewage Treatment Plants in Bellandur in Bengaluru to 126 irrigation tanks in Kolar in a bid to solve the water woes of the district. It was also brought in to improve groundwater levels in the district, and started releasing water on June 7. The occasion was celebrated with much fanfare as Kolar district is typically dry.
However, the project was opposed by activists over fears of receiving polluted water - a fear that appears to have been vindicated within weeks of the project taking off.
"We observed today for the first time that frothy water was coming as part of the water released by the KC Valley Project in Lakshmisagara Lake. We feared this would happen when the project was announced. We want an alternative way of receiving water," says Anjaneya Reddy, an activist with Shashwatha Neeravari Horata Samiti from Kolar.
He also revealed that earlier in the month, a faint odour was noticed, but this was the first time visibly frothing water was observed in Kolar. The Samiti, which had long opposed the project, filed a PIL on June 18 questioning the government's decision to go ahead with the project in spite of several studies opposing it.
"Even the Indian Institute of Science had released a study report during the early stages of the project that this was going to lead to the problem of polluted water in Kolar. It is a problem for Bengaluru because the food grown in Kolar is sent to Bengaluru as well. Kolar, Chikballapur and Bengaluru Rural are seen as the food bowls of Bengaluru urban," says Anjaneya.
The foam water was observed in Lakshmisagara Lake and its neighboring areas. However, Krishnappa, Executive Engineer, Minor Irrigation Department, Kolar, claims that the KC Valley project was not to be blamed for the appearance of foam water.
"All these days there was no problem. We were giving water everyday up to 35-40 mld, and it was clean water. The problems started when water from a plant under renovation was released, since there appears to be foam in that," says Krishnappa.
Sewage water from Koramangala and Challaghatta, including water from Bellandur and Varthur Lakes, are treated at STPs installed in Bellandur, before it is released to Kolar. The water is also released to few tanks in Chintamani taluk of neighboring Chikballapur district.
The sewage treatment plants were constructed to put an end to the menace of frothing water commonly seen in the Bellandur and Varthur Lakes in the city. Other than catching fire, the Bellandur Lake is unpopular among local residents for the huge clouds of white, toxic foam that float up and on to the roads regularly from the lake surface. The situation is similar in Varthur Lake.
It appears that the infamous foam has now reached Kolar district and activists are calling for the KC Valley project to be discontinued and for the government to find alternative ways to fulfil the water needs of Kolar district.
Note: The story was edited to reflect that the treated water being sent to Kolar is for irrigation and for recharging the groundwater in the district.