A day after Bengaluru’s Hulimavu lake breached, causing floods in its surrounding areas and affecting the lives of hundreds, Karnataka Lokayukta Justice P Vishwanath Shetty visited the lake, pulling up officials of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).
“BBMP officials should be held responsible in case of their staff showing negligence in work. The real reason behind the breach of the lake bund should be found soon with the help of the police and the real perpetrators should be penalised as per the law,” Shetty said.
Shetty was apprised of the situation by BBMP Joint Commissioner (Bommanahalli) Ramakrishna, Chief Engineer (Lakes) Mohan Krishna, DCP (South-East) Isha Pant, and officials from the health and revenue departments of the local civic body.
During his visit to Hulimavu on Monday, Karnataka Lokayukta Shetty directed BBMP officials to put rehabilitation of people and restoration of houses on priority.
“The top priority should be given to rehabilitating people affected by the floods. Officers and staff from the civic body should also carry out restoration work in these areas, especially in their homes, with high importance. Sufficient arrangements should be made to ensure children in relief camps are able to attend school without fail,” he said.
He added he has been monitoring the lake since September 2018 after a petition regarding encroachment was brought to his notice.
BBMP Chief Engineer (Lakes) Mohan Krishna told Indianexpress.com that a temporary 10-feet sandbag bund has been raised as a temporary measure to avoid water flow into the residential area. “The temporary bund is now at a height of 10-feet. This will avoid the flow to water into residential areas nearby. Even though the height of the temporary bund will be increased in the next two days, our priority is to repair the damage, which is expected to get completed in the next two to three weeks,” he said.
According to officials from the revenue department, as many as 630 houses have been damaged due to the flash floods that took place Sunday afternoon after the lake bund was damaged allegedly by an earthmover brought in by an individual.
While there have been multiple accounts of the reason behind the same, local residents blame a fishing contractor who brought in the JCB for his work for breaking the bund.
Another group maintains that the same was done by a BBMP contractor who was in-charge of rejuvenating the lake.
However, the BBMP has filed a complaint at the Hulimavu police station against a contractor and a Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) official. Confirming this, DCP (South East) Isha Pant said, “Our primary investigation has indicated that there isn’t any miscreant who has played a part in damaging the lake bund. The incident took place while some work construction-related work was taking place. Our team is looking into the matter very seriously.”
An FIR has been filed under sections 431 (mischief by injury to public road, bridge, river or channel) and 432 (causing inundation or obstruction to public drainage attended with damage) of the Indian Penal Code, and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, she added.
Even as the BBMP blames BWSSB for the damage caused, citizens chose to blame the lack of coordination between the two civic agencies.
Meanwhile, the BBMP announced Rs 10,000 compensation for families affected by the incident. Confirming this, BBMP Commissioner B H Anil Kumar posted a video clipping shot from Krishna Layout along with the announcement on Twitter, hours after Karnataka Housing Minister V Somanna and Bangalore South Lok Sabha MP Tejasvi Surya visited the areas on Monday.
Rs 10000/- compensation will be provided immediately for the families affected by Hulimavu lake breach.
— B.H.Anil Kumar,IAS (@BBMPCOMM) November 25, 2019
Meanwhile, residents of Krishna Layout, Avani Sringeri Nagar, DLF Road, Royal Residency Layout, Saraswathipura, and BTM Layout 4th Stage returned back to their houses to see their valuables filled with slush, mud, and garbage.
Radhamma, a resident of Krishna Layout said, “We have lost everything including our clothes, electrical appliances, original documents, groceries that were stored, and all other valuables. With the power yet to be restored, we have not been offered any help yet other than some food and blankets.”
“We have lost everything including original documents, home appliances, groceries, and others. Electricity and water supply is yet to be restored,” Radhamma, a resident of Krishna Layout adjacent to Hulimavu lake says. #HulimavuLakeBreach #Bengaluru @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/H4VRvMGluv
— Ralph Alex Arakal (@ralpharakal) November 25, 2019
Officials from BBMP’s health department who were present at the relief camps provided a basic health checkup and medicinal help to the people affected by the floods.
“Many complained of fever and body pain as they spent hours in knee-deep water. We have provided sufficient tablets and painkillers,” Dr Bindu, who was part of a mobile health clinic operated by the BBMP in the affected areas said.
“Beginning yesterday night, our teams including doctors and nursing staff have been working on shifts to provide the right medical help in relief camps and by reaching out to others in mobile units. A total of 17 people have been diagnosed with allergies due to the water which also contained garbage and sewage waste due to the flooding,” added another health officer.
Separate mobile toilets for men and women were set up at the relief camps. Officials added that the areas affected will be fogged with mosquito and insect repellents to ensure the people stay away from diseases.
“Special teams have been formed to help people in restoration works carried out in their residential areas apart from the Karnataka State Fire & Emergency Services helping apartments and commercial complexes in the area to pump out water from their basements,” an official said.