Bengaluru: “Possibly I do not need an introduction. Nevertheless, for those who don’t know me - I’m the disrepute of Bengaluru - the frothy, foamy, toxic-filled, foul-smelling Bellandur Lake, which many claim has put Namma Bengaluru to shame on international landscapes.”
If our lakes could speak, maybe the Bellandur Lake would have addressed the city like this, writes Namma Bengaluru Foundation on behalf of the lake in their open letter to Bengalureans.
The letter, that has gone viral online, highlights the issues residents in the vicinity of the lake face on a day-to-day basis.
It says, “If you reside near me then chances are you have fallen victim to waterborne infections causing nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.”
And it ends with a note, “I am dying gradually and extremely painfully, but the authorities clearly are least concerned! I too wanted development, but illegal and reckless encroachment on my lake bed has caused me immeasurable harm. Death is not too far away from me. It is a matter of time before I become a thing of the past and the world will then know me as “Bellandur- the Lake that was.”
The open letter is the voice of hundreds of activists who are fighting for the revival of the lake, said Sandesh Gubbi, a resident of Bellandur.
“My apartment overlooks the Bellandur Lake and it’s a heartbreaking sight to see the beautiful lake in its present condition. On windy days, we still bear the stench and have to forcefully shut the doors and windows. My family has been a victim of skin diseases due to the polluted air,” he says.
Although the government has put up a mesh around the lake, it’s only eyewash, said Mukund, another resident. He explained, “The government officials have done a cosmetic work to contain the froth in the lake and though stench has reduced, nothing much has changed in the lake. We are demanding that more sewage treatment plants should come up at the upstream lakes which carry sewage to the lake directly.”
Jagannath, another resident who is relentlessly fighting for the protection of the lake, said rampant constructions are taking a toll on the wetland. “Many apartments have come up on the buffer zone of the lake and it is dying a slow death. Along with KSPCB officials, we have conducted an informal survey to identify the illegalities. The city’s biggest lake could die if the officials don’t wake up to the emergency call,” he rued.
The residents have urged that a master plan is needed to contain sewage entering the lake and instead of doing damage control, the officials should replenish the lake.
We will survey all the lakes in city: KSPCB chairman Lakshman
What are some of the core issues plaguing the lake?
The water quality has to be monitored and inflow of sewage has to be checked. A large amount of plastic is also entering the lake. Unauthorised apartments located in the buffer zone of the lake are letting out their sewage directly into it. These violations have to be addressed.
How do you plan to address the issues?
First, we will begin a survey of all the lakes in the city. It will be conducted with the help of Revenue department. We will then join hands with officials of BWSSB, Lake Development Authority, BBMP and reach out to NGOs and citizens. We will take strict action against violators.
Is there a time frame to revive the lake?
The residents and experts have suggested that more sewage treatment plants (STP) are the need of the hour. We have urged the BWSSB to complete the Agara Lake STP at the earliest. Our only request is to make the STP fully functional and it should have the capacity to treat at least 98 per cent sewage. The KSPCB will also give funds for the early completion of the project. As of now, there is no schedule.