Sromona Bhattacharyya Bhattacharyya
Hailing from Kolkata and now a resident of Bengaluru, Sromona is a multimedia journalist who has a knack for digging stories that truly deserve attention.
After many rounds of protests and failed attempts to save Bengaluru’s Pattandur Agrahara Lake, residents of ECC Road in Whitefield have finally filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and have sent a memorandum to the newly elected chief minister of Karnataka, H D Kumaraswamy to intervene in the matter.
The residents of the area as well as the members of the Pattandur Agrahara Residents’ Welfare Association in Whitefield have been protesting against the encroachment of the 1000-year-old lake for over a year now.
On May 26, 2018, residents participated in a human chain protest to draw the attention of the new government. This is the second such human chain protest after the one in October 2017.
Sandeep Anirudhan, member of the Pattandur Agrahara RWA Federation, while talking to The Logical Indian said that the residents held this human chain protest after they learned that the High Court in 2016 had ruled the lake to be a private property which was not contested by the then government.
According to Mr. Anirudhan, this protest was done mostly to highlight the government’s incompetence in saving the heritage lake from illegal encroachment, especially by a few private land sharks.
Now, Anirudhan says that the residents are demanding the CM’s intervention into the matter, and have also asked for the setting up of a judicial committee of sorts.
The lake, situated off ECC Road in Bengaluru’s Whitefield has been a part of legal battles for as long as residents of the area can remember. What is ideally supposed to be government property is now apparently being encroached upon by land sharks with vested interests. So much so that even the local municipal body, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) started construction of an 80-feet-road earlier this year.
Historical records suggest that this lake is nothing short of a heritage for the residents of Bangalore. Constructed in 1043 A.D after Rajendra Chola I gifted the land, Pattandur Agrahara Lake is over 975-years-old.
Moreover, one and a half century old British official records suggest the existence of this lake as well as the storm-water drains connected to it.
“Revenue records as available at the office of the Tahsildar, clearly indicate that Pattandur Agrahara, Survey No 54, has been classified as a lake way back in the 1950s”, said Sridhar Pabisetty, CEO of Namma Bengaluru Foundation.
Legal documents uploaded by a group, Save Pattandur Agrahara Lake on Facebook suggests that in 1995 a claim was filed by one Munivenkatappa claiming occupancy of 11 acres and 20 guntas on this very lake bed. Additionally, a civil court had given a verdict in his favour in a civil suit. He had also submitted sales deed copies to support his claims.
Munivenkatappa filed a suit in 1993 before the civil court asking for a declaration of his title to his ‘granted’ land, reports Bangalore Mirror. The suit which did not face any opposition from the government was granted in Munivenkatappa’s favour by a trial court. It further stated that the land in question should be treated as his personal land and not as ‘tank bed’ or ‘lake’.
On May 30, 2018, a High Court division bench headed by BS Patil and Raghavendra S Chauhan held that the Revenue Department must transfer the revenue records of this land to private parties who have laid claim to the lake. This comes after a 2016 High Court ruling that declares the lake to be private.
Residents of the area claim that since the lake bed has been identified as being over centuries old in multiple official records, handing it over to private parties is not valid.
However, in another hearing on June 5, 2018, a bench said that the new judge who was put on the case needed more time to study the subject.
Kadugodi ward corporator Muniswamy, while talking to The Logical Indian alleged that some people have been trying to grab public land, by furnishing fabricated documents which have swayed court rulings in their favour.
He added, “To save the lake from being encroached upon, we are going to organise a strike and go to the Taluk office in three or four days.”
The residents claim that if no action is taken, the residents will continue with their protests.
The disappearance of lakes in Bangalore has been a contentious issue for a long time now. Lakes being encroached upon by private land sharks is the new normal in a city which once had over 300 lakes. It’s not just that, but the death of a natural habitat is a growing concern as well.
In a world where people are increasingly trying to protect their own patch of green, this 1000-year-old lake’s fate remains in the hands of those with vested interests unless the government decides to step-in.
The Logical Indian commends the local citizens for spearheading the protests to save the lake and urges the appropriate governing bodies to take actions to protect it as well.
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