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December 16, 2017
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 Little focus on waterbodies that are upstream of Bellandur, Varthur lakes Doddanekundi lake, which was rejuvenated at a cost of ₹10 crore, continues to be polluted

While all the focus has been on the highly polluted Bellandur and Varthur lakes, little attention is being paid to what is happening upstream of these lakes that make up for the chain of waterbodies leading to Bellandur lake. With untreated sewage flowing unabatedly into Kaggadasapura lake, and eventually into Doddanekundi lake, the likelihood of Varthur and Bellandur lakes getting a chance at rejuvenation is not looking bright.

In 2015, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) undertook a ₹10-crore project for rejuvenation of Doddanekundi lake, which included dredging, building bunds, and fencing the lake area to prevent encroachment. Now, the lake has a large open drain flowing into it, and garbage-filled storm-water drains around it, which end up contributing nothing but the waste into the lake.

P. Pramod, managing trustee of the Nekkundi Tank Rejuvenation Association (NETRA) which organised a ‘Lakeathon’ this June to create awareness about the state of abandonment of the lake, said, “The 2015 renovation project saw some work such as de-silting and building of bunds and fences being done. But the money allocated was never spent on treating sewage or diverting it away from the lake. The lake continues to remain polluted as ever.”

Residents of areas around the lake are grieving the “transformation” of the lake, which they said had been for the worse. There was a time, many years ago, when the lake would attract migratory birds, recalled long-time residents.

Nikhil Pai, another resident, said, “There have been a few isolated attempts by citizens to protest against lack of maintenance of the lake. But as the lake does not froth or foam, not much attention has been paid to it”

Blame game

The lake falls under two wards: Mahadevapura and Vignana Nagar, and officials in both the wards are pinning the blame on the origin of sewage: Kaggadasapura lake.

Vigyana Nagar councillor N.C. Nagaraj said the channel carrying sewage into Doddanekundi lake was actually a storm-water drain, which was now filled with sewage and solid waste. “We have been taking steps to clear the drain and will finish the work within a week and ensure that sewage does not enter the lake,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mahadevapura councillor Shwetha H.R. said, “Sewage flowing into Doddanekundi lake comes from Kaggadasapura lake and we have complained to Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) multiple times, but there has been no response. Finally, residents of apartments have decided to pool in and build a sewage treatment plant (STP).”

But the source of the problem is yet to be tackled. Kaggadasapura councillor Aruna Ravi said, “We have been asking for funds for the maintenance of Kaggadasapura lake, but we never received it. Once the funds are allocated, we will set up an STP.”

BDA passes the buck to citizens

The authority in charge of Doddanekundi lake, however, is in no hurry to take stock of things. Chief Engineer, BDA, P.N. Nayak said, “The Lokayukta has decided that residents must also play an active role in the maintenance of the lake, and sewage treatment will now be taken up by residents of that area by setting up an STP on the lake area.”

Citizens’ groups are unhappy with how the onus has shifted completely on them. Maintaining that the solution to cleaning Doddanekundi lake lies in clearing the lakes situated upstream, CEO of Namma Bengaluru Foundation Sridhar Pabbisetty — who was part of the Nagarika Citizens’ Watch Committee’s ‘Reclaim and Protect our Lakes’ programme — said, “I think the BDA needs to be questioned as to how and where the money being allocated is being used. To think that the private owners can mobilise that kind of fund and set up an STP is unthinkable.”

Kundalahalli lake gets STP

The Kundalahalli lake has got a “first-of-its-kind STP” that has been set up by corporates, citizens and the BBMP together. The, STP, believed to be the solution to clearing the lake of its sewage and increasing the water table of Whitefield, was inaugurated on Tuesday.