Angry locals armed with placards and banners, held a peaceful protest on Friday against the encroachment of Yamare Lake (off Sarjapur Road), in greater Bengaluru.
The protest was targeted primarily against the Yamare village panchayat, who they allege, encroached upon the lakebed and built a road on the rajakaluve (storm water drain). The villagers allege that the lake’s buffer zone has also been encroached upon to benefit private investors.
Besides the road, residents allege that the Panchayat encouraged the illegal construction of a church as well.
Many residents of the village who depend on farming and grazing for their livelihood use the lakebed for those purposes during summer months. But sometime in March, the Panchayat built a road on the rajakaluve, which blocked the flow of water. This construction has also eventually killed 10 to 15 lakes in the area including Doddakere, which is 200 acres wide and is the largest source of water.
National Green Tribunal guidelines stipulate that no construction can be undertaken within 75 metres of any lake body.
According to the villagers, these encroachments have been done to sell the land to private investors.
"All these officers are practising corruption in the name of development," said Narayana Swamy, a social worker, who had been a Panchayat member twice. “We are losing all our sources of water and hence livelihood,” he added.
To add to their problems, a compound wall has been constructed in the buffer zone of the lake, and the land outside this buffer zone has been given to private investors.
The wall blocks the access to Dommasandra, which is the nearest market.
Residents have also been threatened to vacate and have been told that the area would be used to build schools and depots.
Meanwhile, complaints registered against these activities have been moved till Vidhana Soudha.
Jairam, the Block Development Officer, denied the allegations of corruption.
"The government assigned 50 lakh rupees for the purpose of development of the roads and that is what we're doing," he said.
He even distanced himself from the church that was built saying it was not under his jurisdiction. He further added that the construction of the road on the rajakaluve wouldn’t affect its utility.