Civic Issues7
The stadium was built on what was once the Sampige Tank that supplied water to the cantonment area.

Tuesday night’s torrential rain flooded Bengaluru’s Kanteerava Indoor Stadium and turned it into a cesspool of sewage water.

Within an hour after it began pouring, the rainwater, mixed with the sewage inflow filled the entire stadium.

According to a security guard, who was on night duty, the rain began at around 10.30pm on Tuesday.

“It started pouring heavily. I was standing guard outside and within a few minutes, it began raining so heavily that I could not even stand there with an umbrella. Since my shift was getting over soon, I went home,” the security personnel said.

He immediately alerted the stadium’s maintenance staff and on Wednesday morning, over 50 persons from the cleaning crew were roped in to help remove the water accumulated inside the stadium.

“The water began flowing towards the stadium from the storm water drain near the west entrance. Soon, it flooded the entire stadium including the locker rooms in the north block. The water had submerged the stadium partially and we had to wade through the water on the running tracks to reach the stadium’s door,” said Shanta, a worker who helped clean up the place.

According to a coach, who is in charge of overseeing the cleaning and repairs, the water had entered the Basket Ball court inside and has now seeped under the wooden flooring.

“The water has gone below the wooden floor board. Now they have to remove the wooden flooring to take out the water. The main problem here is that the walls of the storm water drain are not high enough,” he said.

The stadium was built on what was once the Sampige Tank. The spot where the indoor stadium is constructed is a low-lying area and the accumulated rain water in surrounding roads flows into the storm water drain located on the west side of the stadium.

“Earlier, when the area was a lake, the water accumulated on the roads would flow into the lake through the storm water drain. Now the stadium has been built on the lake bed but the height of the drain’s wall has not been increased. Hence the water flows into the stadium and it gets flooded,” said Naresh Narasimhan, architect and a member of Citizens For Bengaluru.

This is not the first time the stadium has flooded. In May 2016, the stadium had flooded when runners of the TCS World 10K marathon had gone to collect their prizes at the stadium.

Athletes had to wade through the murky waters in the afternoon as the rain poured down harshly.

A coach at the stadium said that the worst flood witnessed was the one in 2014. “This time the water was about two-an-a half-feet deep. In 2014, the water was about four-and-a-half feet deep. This happens whenever it rains and no matter how many times we have complained, the administration has not bothered to increase the storm water drain’s height,” the coach said.

The erstwhile Sampige Lake or Sampige Tank was constructed by Bengaluru’s founder, Kempe Gowda.

The lake, back then, supplied water to the cantonment area and ragi was cultivated in the upstream areas, while the low-lying areas cultivated paddy.

This area is now packed with buildings and with the bustling Corporation Circle nearby. The area surrounding the lake had many tanks or kalyanis and the water was used for domestic purposes.

In 1898, the Sampige Lake was no longer the important source of water supply as the Cantonment area began receiving water from the Hessarghatta reservoir. The lake bed was encroached upon by schools, colleges, hospitals and also the Cubbon Park. By 1937, the lake bed was dry and the spot was used to host carnivals.

As the city grew, the need for a stadium also arose and the Kanteerava Stadium was built by the year 1946 on the lake bed.

The growing city needed a sports stadium and Kanteerava stadium was built on the lake bed by 1946.

Kanteerava Indoor Stadium was built in 1995 when Bengaluru hosted the National Games. The construction of the stadium on the lake bed, at the time, was contested by many environmentalists, who lost the case in the Karnataka High Court in 1996.

“It does matter our lakes are being encroached. Every year, the monsoon reminds us of the rampant encroachment of the once beautiful lake which sustained livelihoods of many Bengalureans,” Narasimhan said.