Bengaluru: NGOs, firms rejuvenating lakes without proper nod, say environmentalists

Rejuvenating lakes without a survey, not only alters their structure, but they also cannot be treated as flood mitigation zones afterwards due to several reasons including reduced water holding capacity, activists said.

After several areas in Bengaluru got inundated in the wake of heavy rains that lashed the city recently, environmentalists and hydrologists have stressed on the need to treat lakes as flood mitigation zones. Experts have, however, pointed out that lakes in Anekal taluk are being rejuvenated without proper survey or nod from the Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority (KTCDA).

This not only alters the structure of the lakes, but they also cannot be treated as flood mitigation zones afterwards due to several reasons including reduced water holding capacity, they said.

Social activist Captain (Retd) Santhosh Kumar has informed the KTCDA that some lakes in Anekal, which are under the custody of the zila panchayat, are being rejuvenated by NGOs and corporate bodies through CSR funding without encroachment eviction, boundary fixation, technical study or an approved lake detailed project report (DPR) by the KTCDA.

Under the KTCDA Act, 2014, it is mandatory that any development activity with regard to lakes and tanks take approval from the KTCDA.

“Buffer zones are not marked as specified and directed by the Karnataka High Court and the state government. The boundaries are not fenced and the areas which were found to be encroached earlier still exist. Lake areas are being used to develop jogging tracks, parks and temples. In some cases, it was found that the water holding capacity of the lakes have been reduced,” Santhosh said.

He alleged that NGOs and private companies take the nod of the zila panchayat to develop lakes without submitting the approved technical report or DPR by the KTCDA.

“Panchayat officials are giving permission on their official letterheads and allowing these entities to work and develop lakes without any approval from the KTCDA. The panchayat has no set guidelines or conditions for lake development,” Santhosh pointed out, adding that those with vested interests often take advantage of the situation.

As part of the rejuvenation, trees have been planted on the lake bund of Hadosiddapura lake in Sarjapura and S Bengipura lake in Anekal. There are several other rejuvenated lakes over which objections have been raised.

Ram Prasad, Co-founder of Friends of Lakes, said if trees are planted on the lake bund the compaction strength and integrity of the bund will be compromised. “Lake rejuvenation without KTCDA approval is illegal,” he said. A senior KTCDA official said the issue will be investigated.

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