Fondly known as the City of Lakes, Bengaluru has been home to a thousand lakes. But intense urbanisation has left only 15% of these lakes on the city map. Owing to the land-hungry mafias, avaricious land-builders lobby and bureaucrats, people are being deprived of the water bodies and a city which once boasted of the abundance of this precious resource, no longer has even a single clean water body.
Barely 150 of these lakes are surviving till date. They face severe threat of extinction as they are often used as dumping grounds. The scorching summer sucks them dry and this works as a signal for the officials to use these lakes with rubble. Once declared defunct lakes, these water bodies are up for grabs.
The city was blessed with several lakes and tanks. All of these lakes were interconnected and the chains of these water bodies were built to impound runoff water while utilizing the same to serve the water needs of the people. Due to rampant urbanisation and improper environment planning, the functions served by the lakes and tanks have gradually changed. Increasing demands on lands for real estate and illegal encroachment have led to fast-paced depletion of lakes.
Bangalore lakes were interconnected and is an intricate network of canals which effectively transferred the excess water to low level tanks. Some lakes were used for landfills. One such prominent waterbody that has been reduced to a sorry state is Bellandur lake. Lakes and water tanks in Hosakerehalli has now dried up and land hungry builders are now eyeing lakes in other parts of the city. In other parts of the city, lakes are effectively used as sewage dumping grounds, thereby contaminating the quality of water. These cesspools of turbid water carry all kinds of pollutants like nitrates, arsenic and mercury. This further leads to the contamination of the groundwater level.
Sorry state of Bangalore lakes
Praveen Singh, a responsible and aware citizen of Bengaluru is a photographer by passion. A resident of the ‘city of lakes’, he had captured pictures of the Bellandur lake which date back to the late eighties. The picturesque beauty of the lake is captivating enough and decades ago the lake had an idyllic charm. Nestled among lush greenery, this lake was a haven for picnic enthusiasts. He stumbled upon the pictures quite recently and decided to take a trip down the memory lane.
One fine day, he drove down to the lake again only to click pictures of the same lake which was doing rounds in the news for having caught fire. He posted the pictures on a Facebook group and several fellow Bangaloreans have resonated the same feeling. The pictures are an apt representation of the phrase, “hell and heaven difference”. The lake no longer has its idyllic charm and is anything but picturesque. When The Logical Indian spoke to Praveen Singh, he said, “It is shocking to see how much of harm can we humans cause to nature. A place which used to be a hangout spot for many people of my generation is now in an unrecognisable state!”
If the two sets of pictures are juxtaposed, the difference is stark and can put us to shame. Praveen runs a venture that organises heritage walks and he recounted the first-hand experience of he has seen the city evolving and changing over the years for the good and the bad as well.
“The lake had started losing its charm long ago. But over the last seven years, the deterioration is painful and catastrophic. All waste material is dumped in the lake and it is adversely affecting the marine ecosystem as well. Once it used to be a beautiful lake and now all one can see is construction debris lying around,” says Praveen with disappointment emanating from his voice.
Praveen is hopeful that the decadent situation of the city’s natural heritage shall someday attract the attention of the authorities. He says, “It should be a joint effort of the authorities and the citizens of Bengaluru. We must take initiatives to restore and revive the lakes now.”
The Logical Indian community urges the civic bodies to look into the matter and initiate cleaning up of the lakes. These lakes are important to a balanced ecosystem and their decadent situation is an environmental concern as well. It also urges the responsible citizens of the city to take up the initiative of bringing these concerns to the notice of the authorities and act upon such issues now.