The Karnataka government has set up a three-member committee to probe the reasons behind the flash floods that occurred in Bengaluru after bunds of three lakes breached in a span of two months. The latest one was at Hulimavu when the bund’s wall collapsed and water flooded the homes of people in a 2 km radius.
The technical committee will be headed by retired IAS officer Dr BR Srinivas Murthy, with retired IAS officer ML Madaiah and Dr Shantarajanna HR, Chief Engineer of the Tumakuru Smart City Project, as the other members. The committee has to submit its reports within 10 days according to the Karnataka’s government’s notification.
The state government set up the committee to probe the matter as the police and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, who are conducting separate probes, have not been able to identify the people or entities responsible for the breach in the three lakes.
On October 11, an earthmover had tried to dig up the bund of the Doddabidarakallu Lake. The bund’s walls collapsed and the water from the lake flooded the homes of residents in the area. Just a month after this incident, on November 11, the Hosakerehalli Lake breached and flooded homes and roads in the area. Residents had blamed the Bengaluru Development Authority for digging up the bund. On November 25, the Hulimavu Lake’s bund too was dug up and lake water flooded Krishna Layout, BTM Layout, RR Layout, Saraswatipuram and Vysya Bank Colony.
The BBMP Lake Department has estimated that around 10,000 people were affected by the flash floods due to the Hulimavu Lake breach. According to the Hulimavu Police, who are probing the case, say that the suspicion is currently on both the BBMP and the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board.
Police say that the BBMP Assistant Executive Engineer in-charge of Hulimavu Lake, K Shilpa, had allegedly received a call on the morning of November 25 from BWSSB Assistant Engineer Karthik, who is monitoring the construction of the sewage treatment plant for the lake at its southern border.
“Karthik informed Shilpa that residents were complaining of excess water flowing into the temple nearby and asked if the water could be let out of the northern exit, which had been blocked by the bund,” the police said.
Investigating officers say that neither the BBMP nor the BWSSB are cooperating with the probe and that the police have sent a report to the Palike asking for more information on the matter.
“The suspicion is on the BBMP, it received Rs 6 crore for rejuvenation of the lake. It could not do this if the lake was filled to the brim. We suspect that BBMP officials wanted a portion of the bund to be dug up so that the water could flow out quickly. Either that or the BWSSB dug up the bund so that water wouldn’t flood the temple in the southern side,” the police said.
Police allege that BBMP is not cooperating with the probe and that its officials are not responding to queries as to why they allowed the bund to be dug up without issuing tenders for any repair works.
Currently, an FIR has been registered against BWSSB engineer Karthik and the driver of the earthmover, Nagaraj, under section 431 (mischief by injury to public road, bridge, river or channel) of the IPC and the Karnataka Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
“So far no arrest has been made,” the police said.