Is this the Swiss locale where a '90s Bollywood dance number was performed? No, this is our very own Bellandur Lake in Bengaluru and there's nothing romantic about that' snow'.
In what’s become Bengaluru’s never-ending tragedy, the Bellandur and Varthur Lakes are frothing again. Tuesday morning saw a slush of unpleasant, smelly and toxic froth climb up the 10 ft mesh and flow into the roads, saying hello to the pedestrians and motorists, who covered their noses with disgust. The foam follows heavy rains on Monday evening.
Unfortunately for residents, the toxic foam has become so infamous that it’s inadvertently become a local tourist attraction. So much so that if the Karnataka Department of Tourism chose to come up with a tag line, it would read, “Unnatural phenomenon only in Bengaluru: Snowfall during monsoon, fireworks in spring.”
Seema, a member of Bellandur Rising says, “It has turned into a selfie spot. When the froth comes, journalists call us up in the middle of the night and say we are meeting residents. But the real issue is that there is apathy at other times. The budget earmarked Rs 50 crores for it. What is the plan to save the lake? The National Green Tribunal has postponed hearings from August to October. The lake becomes a point of discussion only when there's a fire or froth coming onto the street. This is very frustrating for residents like us who are trying to follow up on the issue regularly.”
Photograph by Nolan Pinto
Angry residents are now resigned to their fate of living with the possibility of skin diseases, contamination of ground water and of course, the smell. But those are not at all the important issues for the Karnataka government, residents say.
“It’s become a common thing. Bellandur Lake catches fire during the summers and froths during the winter. So far nothing has been done. Monday night’s heavy rainfall has resulted in the lake foaming once again,” laments Sonali Singh, a member of Bellandur Rising.
Despite the National Green Tribunal’s harsh words and reprimands, the Karnataka government seems to be taking it easy.
“So far there are eyewash measures like the sprinklers which have been installed to reduce foaming. Gradients have been installed to ensure that the water does not fall from a slope and create more foam. These are not helping either because there is foaming anyway,” a BWSSB official said.
Another big blunder committed by BWSSB is to divert the sewage entering Iblur and Agara Lakes into Bellandur Lake.
“When the Agara and Iblur Lakes were being cleaned up, the sewage lines which were going into these lakes were diverted into Bellandur. Instead of installing a sewage treatment plants (STP) at the lakes to treat untreated water and sewage, they diverted these sewer lines. How do they expect the foaming to come down if it is being polluted constantly?” questions Sonali.
Shockingly, BWSSB sources say that none of the engineers actually have any clarity on the progress of the STP construction work. When TNM asked BWSSB regarding the progress of the work, the reply was:
“We will know whether the work is on track on by next year. The STP is expected to be completed by 2020. After the blunder of the KC Valley project and the contamination of ground water in Kolar, the BWSSB is assessing the impact the current STP would actually have,” the BWSSB official said.