Civic Issues
The Bellandur-Varthur lakes are expected to regain their past glory in two years’ time.
File image

The infamous Bellandur lake which had attracted headlines nationally for catching fire twice in less than five years will be a model for lake rejuvenation in the country after 18-24 months, according to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) panel. “We want the cooperation of all residents so that we can give a model which is unique to the country,” veteran scientist and member of the committee TV Ramachandra, said. 

The NGT-appointed committee, which is monitoring the lake rejuvenation process, apprised the public about the future course of action to restore the Bellandur and its downstream Varthur lake.

As reported earlier, the dewatering of the lakes has started and at the same time, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) has started the de-weeding and dredging process.

The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has also been tasked with stopping the ingress of sewage as the BDA has readied alternate channels on either side of Bellandur to transport the flow downstream.

From next June, a sewage treatment plant (STP) is expected to be readied which will solve the problem of untreated sewage entering the water bodies.

“After the STP is ready, we will only take 20 MLD of treated water into the lake to maintain it, the rest of the treated water will be diverted elsewhere,” Professor TV Ramachandra told the gathering.

He also assured that all encroachment will be removed going by the revenue record of 1887.

Sonali Singh, a resident-activist closely following the developments, said, “We had concerns about the quantum of desilting and where it will be dumped. As per some recent studies by IISc, there is upto 10-12 feet of silt. We were very happy to note the response that desilting will be till the lake bed which will allow for groundwater recharging.”

She added, “The committee informed that no more than 5% of the lake land will be lost for the beautification process which will include creation of a park and walking tracks.”

The two lakes, once full of life, have been reduced to a cesspool of sewage and sludge due to the increased flow of untreated sewage. While not much was done by the authorities despite much noise from civil society, it was the NGT which took suo motu notice of the matter and indicted the state and local authorities like BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike), BWSSB and the KSPCB (Karnataka State Pollution Control Board). 

Even then, with them failing, the NGT had recently fined the state government and ordered another Rs 500 crore to be put in an escrow account for the lakes’ restoration and appointed a committee headed by former SC judge Justice Santosh Hegde and comprising Professor TV Ramachandra of the IISc.

Suresh NR, Namma Bengaluru Foundation, which impleaded in the NGT case, said, “The meeting went very well today. The committee also took the farmers into confidence about the restoration plan. They were also happy that the lost lake will be back to its old glory.”

He added, “The committee also told them that the silt to be used in their farmlands should be free of any harmful contaminants and also educated the farmers on the issue. The committee also welcomed suggestions from the public and the farmers for the process and highlighted the importance of local knowledge and ancient practices.”