The lake’s buffer zone has been severely encroached upon by big builders and shockingly by the Bengaluru police as well.

Encroachment and BBMP apathy has turned the once beautiful Sarakki Lake into a cesspool
news Civic Issues Sunday, September 03, 2017 - 17:26

In the middle of a bustling JP Nagar lies Bengaluru’s Sarakki Lake or Puttenahalli Lake. Since 2015, the restoration of the once beautiful lake has begun; however, these attempts seem to be mere eyewash.

Spread across 82 acres and 22 guntas, Sarakki Lake is one of the biggest lakes in the city. It was a lake which housed a thousand birds, resulting in the name – Savira Hakki Lake, shortened to Sarakki Lake.

However, the lake has been reduced to almost half its size, owing to rampant encroachments and the cesspool of debris and construction waste dumped in it.

In April 2014, the Karnataka High Court had issued an order to the BBMP, BWSSB and the BDA, stating that all encroachments must be demolished and the lake restored to its original form.

Two years on, the lake’s buffer zone has been severely encroached upon by big builders and shockingly by the Bengaluru police as well, allege residents.

A resident of JP Nagar had filed an RTI requesting information on persons responsible for the construction of luxury villas in the lake’s buffer zone.

“Joint Commissioner of the the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike's Health and Solid Waste Management, Sarfaraz Khan, has been allotted property inside the lake’s buffer zone located off Puttenahalli Main Road. The property is being developed by Purvankara and the project is called Coronation Square. The RTI reply reveals this information,” the resident alleged.

The resident alleged that LP No 065312-13, and site number 102 with Khaatha number 18 was allotted to Sarfaraz Khan on November 3, 2012.

“The property is registered to Puravankara Coronation Square. One of the other holders is Shaheda Parveen, Khan’s sister and also Purvankara. According to Rule 15 of the Civil Services Conduct Rules 1964, no government servant can engage directly or indirectly in any trade or business or negotiate for, or undertake, any other employment. The housing complex coming up on this property will have 40 apartments and seven villas, some of which have been sold,” he said.

“Sarfaraz Khan has claimed that it is his ancestral property but according to the NGT order, he cannot construct luxury villas or apartments in the buffer zone,” said Professor KS Bhat, a member of the Sarakki Lake Area Improvement Trust.

Professor Bhat states that the construction had stopped in 2015, but was revived mid-2016.

“It is not only Purvankara or Sarfaraz Khan who have encroached up on the lake’s buffer zone. The Puttenahalli Police Station also sits on it. One of the major outlets of the lake has now been converted to a large ground where a temple has been constructed. People use this area to park cars. They have converted the outlet to a parking zone and it is located right in front of the police station,” Professor Bhat added.

After the court order was passed in April 2014 for the lake’s revival, pipelines carrying sewage were laid at a 3-km periphery of the lake and a pumping station to pump out the raw sewage was built on government-approved land in Puttenahalli itself.

The project cost the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board Rs 25 crore, Professor Bhat said. This project is said to have been commissioned in October 2016, but the sewage from the lake’s catchment area and from the Chunchagatta rajakaluve flows into and fills up the lake.

“The Chunchaghatta industrial zone is located near the lake as well. Just a few days ago, the pollution control board’s Chief Environment Officer, Ramesh had visited the lake and collected samples as we had complained that industrial effluents are being discharged into the lake from the west end. This suspicion cropped up as the lake was frothing last week when it rained,” Professor Bhat added.

In addition, BBMP contractors, entrusted with the task of garbage disposal blatantly dump waste in the lake.

On the bright side, the BBMP had passed an order in July 2017 for the construction of a Sewage Treatment Plant near the lake.

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