Bengaluru: The recently released Koliwad Committee report on encroachment of lakes has not gone down well with activists and residents, who have been fighting to restore the water bodies. At a panel discussion organised by the United Bengaluru on Saturday, activist referred to loopholes in the report that have become a major concern for citizens. Mr Ram Prasad, a co-founder of Friends of Lakes, said, “Lake encroachers are relieved now as the report appears to give suggestions on how to legalise illegal encroachments. It has clearly given a backdoor entry for encroachers.”
He said that B Kharab land cannot be given to anyone, but there have been cases of such claims being made and entertained by civic agencies. Taking Janardhan Kere as a reference point, one of the residents said the lake at Konakunte Cross is not included in the survey as the encroachers include heavyweight politicians.
Ms Veena Srinivasan, a researcher with ATREE, was bewildered that the government can declare lakes dead. “Lakes are declared dead when it is filled with untreated sewage or when there is no water in them. It is the responsibility of the government and its agencies to protect these lakes. If we let the lakes go then groundwater recharge will be a problem,” she said.
House (Koliwad) Committee, which was constituted to save the city’s green areas and lakes, has a provision to let go of residential and commercial encroachers by classifying lakes as dead or alive. Commenting on the Revised Master Plan 2031 vis-a-vis lakes, S. Vishwanath, a water expert, said that it does not even recognise the importance of water bodies.
The role of the revenue department in marking buffer zones and not allowing encroachments on rajakaluves is pertinent as the people will not know if they are constructing their houses on the lake’s land or not, he said. “Sharavathi reservoir stores about 250TMC of water, of which 20TMC is released to Bengaluru, which costs a fortune. If we clean our lakes and utilise the water, a lot of money can be saved,” he said...