Karnataka CM’s Rs 81-crore lake rejuvenation plan wasteful expenditure: Environmentalists

The rejuvenation plan, reportedly, contains the construction of a walking path and a children’s park near the lake, which several environmentalists view as wasteful expenditure.

The announcement of the Rs 81-crore rejuvenation plan for Mallathahalli lake by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has raised concerns of discerning citizens. The rejuvenation plan, reportedly, contains the construction of a walking path and a children’s park near the lake, which several environmentalists view as wasteful expenditure.

Earlier, a BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) divisional engineer deputed with the Rajrajeshwari Nagar division had floated a tender to rejuvenate the Mallathahalli lake. The plan entailed laying of a railway track for toy trains, and construction of a hanging bridge and a glass house on the lake bed.

Notably, the lakes division of the BBMP was not informed before the tender was floated.

“The corporation has a separate division for lakes. The nod for such decisions should have come from there. Lakes are important because they recharge groundwater. We need to give more importance to ecology. Whereas, the beautification of the surrounding areas of the lakes are being given prime importance. Moreover, when several lakes in the city are not even fenced, I do not understand the rationale behind spending Rs 81 crore on one lake,” the co-founder of Friends of Lakes, Ram Prasad, said.

Notably, several areas in Bengaluru were inundated after the city experienced heavy downpour on October 3. According to the BBMP Control Room, the Rajrajeshwari Nagar division was badly affected. Prasad said that such a situation could have been avoided if lakes were treated as flood mitigation zones.

“The detailed project report (DPR) should be prepared in consultation with hydrologists. The issue of sewage flow into lakes deserves more attention,” he added.

In 2020, the Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority (KTCDA) in the Technical Advisory Committee meeting stated that though a five-MLD Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) supplies treated water to the lake, additionally 42 MLD of untreated sewage enters the water body through three storm water drains (SWD). The BBMP had said that it would divert these drains. However, nothing has happened on that front till now.

In a bid to improve the water quality of the lakes in Bengaluru, NGO ActionAid with support from local residents had carried out an assessment of the obstacles in harnessing rainwater for the Doddakallasandra lake last month. It was found that the faulty design of drains restricts the flow of rainwater to the lakes.

According to Raghavendra B Pachchapur, the programme manager of ActionAid (Bengaluru), “The SWDs are fed with sewage and they flow into the lake. There is no instance where the lake receives a good amount of rainwater. Our intention was to improve the water quality of the lake and this is achievable by getting rainwater into the lake. Fortunately, Doddakallasandra lake is blessed with high gradient land providing full opportunity to harness rainwater.

“There are four roads that are interconnected to the Doddakallasandra lake and being on a higher gradient, water naturally flows down these roads to the lake. Rainwater can be harnessed from around the roads of Doddakallasandra.”

The report was submitted to Pramod Kumar, the executive engineer of BBMP’s Bommanahalli zone.

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