Bengaluru's lakes are doing a vanishing act, but who cares
news Friday, May 22, 2015 - 05:30
Enough has been said about the gradual disappearance of lakes from Bangalore‚Äôs topography, but it still continues to shock us. Bengaluru has lost many of its lakes to urbanisation, pollution and encroachment. While it is difficult to quote a definite number of lakes in the city, as they come under different jurisdictions like Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), Lake Development Authority (LDA), some reports¬†state that Bangalore¬†district¬†has been¬†left with only 183 lakes, and of these many are dead lakes.¬† Image Courtesy: Map from Justice N K Patil's report -¬†Preservation of Lakes in the City of bangalore The Lakshman Rao Committee report¬†placed the number of lakes in Bangalore Metropolitan Area in 1988 as 262, of which 46 were already gone.¬† Following a Karnataka High Court order in 2014, the revenue department went on a massive demolition drive in the city this month clearing encroachments on many lakes like Sarakki, Puttenahalli, Banaswadi. But surprisingly the encroachers are not just private players but also civic bodies like the BDA and the BBMP who have created layouts on encroached land. Image Courtesy: Forest Department of Karantaka Government's only solution- Committees A Karnataka Legislature committee has been formed under the leadership of KB Koliwad to look into the encroachments of lakes in the city. They have asked the Revenue department to look into encroachments of nearly 1,718 lakes in Bengaluru Urban District within a month.¬† They are to present the report on¬†June 9¬†before the legislative assembly committee. The committee is here to make recommendations and will also submit a report on how much it will cost the government to restore the lakes. So far several committees have been formed to deal with the issue of preservation of lakes. In 1985 the Lakshman Rao Committee was formed, leading to the transfer of 115 lakes to the Forest Department.¬† In 2006 after the then Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy made allegations of land encroachment, another committee was formed under A T Ramaswamy. The report submitted by this committee details the encroachments of lakes by local bodies and the failure of the LDA and the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) in preserving the lakes. In 2011, the N K Patil Committee was formed also with the aim of suggesting steps to preserve the lakes in the city. Though many committees have been come and gone, the impact is questionable.¬†Leo Saldanha, Coordinator of the Environment Support Group however is optimistic about the latest committee and said, ‚ÄúThe government is going in the right direction, but they are proceeding in a slow pace.‚ÄĚ Where are the maps? When The News Minute attempted to access maps of Bengaluru that would show the lakes in the city from some decades ago, we hit a roadblock. We approached the BBMP and the LDA to gain access to the maps, but were told that they did not have any. LDA claimed that since it was formed only in 2002 it could not have any maps before that date. The oldest they have is of 2012, ten years after their formation. For a city that is trying hard to reclaim their lakes, the absence of maps seems odd. A visit to the Mythic Society on Nrupathunga Road led us to some old maps of the city. But as the names of the places shown on the maps are quite different from what they are today, it is quite difficult to know where exactly these lakes were.