Bengaluru, once known for its efficient lakes-tanks system to store the generous rainwater it receives around the year, is now staring at Day Zero.
This is solely due to the steady destruction of the well-planned water body systems by Bengaluru authorities and private builders alike in the name of “development”, causing groundwater levels to deplete at an alarming level.
The latest victim of this reckless “development” is a heritage Kalyani (temple tank) of the 100-year-old Gali Anjaneya Temple at Gottigere, as part of the Bannerghatta Road (between JG Mara Circle and Koli Farm Gate) widening project.
The step well structure is essential for rainwater harvesting and maintaining the groundwater level.
Local citizen groups, which have been maintaining the tank and carrying out regular cleaning drives, are fiercely opposed to sacrificing the lake for the project.
Nagamani, a resident who was part of the drives, told TNM, “The tank not only had water up to three feet but the water thus collected would flow to lower riparian tanks of the city’s lake-tank system.”
The structure is even more vital given that Gottigere is yet to get Cauvery water connection and is solely dependent on borewells for its water needs.
Experts have noted that over-relying on Cauvery water without reviving the city’s groundwater recharge system would prove costly in the long term.
“When Bengaluru is being predicted as the next city to run out of water, instead of reviving rainwater harvesting structures, the BBMP is busy filling them up,” Ramprasad, convenor of Friends of Lakes, a non-profit involved in the rejuvenation of the city’s ailing lakes, told TNM.
“These are part of the culture and heritage of Bengaluru. Destroying these in the name of development and progress is sad,” he added.
For the past three days, the temple tank, which is right beside the BBMP office, has been filled with construction debris by the contractor involved in the road- widening project.
Mahendra Jain, Additional Chief Secretary (Urban Development), told TNM that he has instructed the Bommanahalli Zonal Commissioner to seek an alternative to destroying the water body, after being alerted by concerned citizens.
"I will be going there tomorrow and then we will decide. I have already told the Joint Commissioner that we should try and restore it. I will try and make it possible, may be change the alignment of the road,” Jain told TNM.
But BBMP officials on the ground say that the widening project would not be effective if that particular stretch is left out.
Violation of NGT guidelines
The move by the BBMP is also illegal, as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) guidelines dictate that no construction can be carried out within 75 m of lake buffer zones.
A top source in the state bureaucracy confirmed to TNM that the controversial amendment to the law governing the state’s water body was yet to be gazetted.
Meanwhile, another bunch of concerned citizen-activists, instead of enjoying a lazy Sunday, took to the streets to protest a similar incident in Whitefield. A human chain was formed by residents holding placards and chanting slogans demanding the rescue and revival of the Pattandur Agrahara Lake.
The BBMP is building a road on the lake, following which the locals had to approach the Karnataka High Court to stall the environmental destruction.