A few days after the fire which occurred at Bengaluruâ€™s Varthur lake, officials from the Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA) have yet to determine what caused the fire. As per some reports, the BDA has claimed that it is not responsible for the fire. BDA officials added that they had signed an agreement with Minerals Enterprises India (MEI), a corporate, which took up desilting of the lake under its CSR (corporate social responsibility) program. The BDA suspects that villagers in the nearby areas who were harvesting grass in the lake may also be the reason behind the fire.
â€śVarthur lake has been given to MEI under CSR. In Varthur lake BDA has not intervened but for fencing and removal of encroachment. No other activity has been undertaken by us. It is not a contract, they wanted to take it up under CSR. An MoU was signed six months back,â€ť said BDA commissioner Rakesh Singh to TNIE. They also reported that officials from MEI were not available to comment regarding the issue.
â€śAs they have boats, only the grass cutters have access to the part of the wetland that caught fire. Nobody else can go that far as there is water all around. While cutting the grass, they might have lit a cigarette and stubbed it somewhere, intentionally or unintentionally,â€ť a BDA engineer stated.
On Sunday, January 22, at around 3:15 pm residents near the lake noticed that there was smoke emerging from the center of the lake. It subsequently caught fire at three different areas near the Balligeri inlet and spread quickly within 30 minutes. The smoke encompassed the entire vicinity, with several residents living near Thubharahalli Extension stating that the smoke had entered their apartments.
Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) officials visited the lake on Monday and have gathered samples which will be sent for further tests.