Of the 261 lakes that once were, only 16 lakes can be identified as encroached by specific structures

The lost lakes of Bengaluru From Majestic bus stand to stadiums they all have one thing in commonWikimedia commons
news Environment Saturday, May 28, 2016 - 18:51

Disparate as they sound, Bengaluru’s central Majestic bus stand, hockey and football stadia, residential layouts do have something in common: lost lakes.

Once lush with ample water bodies in and around the city, Bengaluru had close to 261 lakes in 1961, till urbanization reared its ugly head. Today, the city has hardly 85 lakes under the purview of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (a few more are maintained by BDA), of which 184 acres are encroached upon by buildings and other structures.

Of the 261 lakes that once were, only 16 lakes can be identified as encroached by specific structures, the prominent being the Kempegowda Majestic Bus Stand (popularly called Majestic) built on the Dharmanbudhi Lake. Like the Majestic bus stand, several other structures like stadiums and residential layouts have cropped up on the dry waterbeds of what were once lakes.

Name of the lakeStatus
Shoolay LakeFootball Stadium
Akkithimanhalli LakeHockey Stadium
Sampangi LakeSports Stadium
Dharmambudhi LakeMajestic Bus Stand
Challaghatta lakeGolf Course
Koramangala lakeResidential layout
Nagashettihalli LakeSpace Department
Kadugondanahalli LakeAmbedkar Medical College
Domlur LakeBDA Layout
Miller LakeResidential Layout
Subhashnagar LakeResidential Layout
Kurubarahalli LakeResidential Layout
Kodihalli lakeResidential Layout
Sinivaigalu LakeResidential Layout
Marenahalli LakeResidential Layout
Shivanahalli LakePlayground, Bus stand

Data sourced from parisaramahiti.kar.nic.in

Shashikala Iyer from the Environment Support Group told The News Minute that Bengaluru’s lakes were a well-thought out man-made water system that made efficient use of the natural topography of the region.

“The lakes are built on higher altitude, in a step-wise pattern. So when water in one lake overflows, excess water flows into the lake next to it. They are all in small groups in a valley, like the Vrishabhavati valley for instance,” she says.

The water flow is assisted by a system of canals called rajakaluves that connect one lake to another. Shashikala says that the encroachment of lakes occurs in a pattern. Usually, roads and residential buildings are built over canals, because of which water ceases to flow into them. “With no water coming in through the canals, the lakes dry up and they are then converted into these massive structures,” explains Shashikala.

Encroachment of lakes has made the surrounding areas susceptible to flooding during the monsoons. “Forget monsoons, even when there is a light shower, water in these areas stagnates extensively because the canals are blocked. Ultimately, flooding happens,” says Shashikala. Also, with the natural drainage blocked by debris, there is no channel for water and sewage to flow, resulting in an overflow onto the roads and houses.

These developments which have occurred over a period of several years have had an adverse impact on the city’s ground water. Sashikala says there is an urgent need to reverse these developments and restore the city’s lakes.

“Bengaluru’s population is increasing manifold and the water from Cauvery hardly satiates the needs of 50 per cent of the population. The rest are all dependent on groundwater and private tankers - both of which are largely contaminated. In such a state, the government has no option but to revive these lakes,” says Shashikala.