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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Bengaluru’s Kaggadasapura Lake and the citizens’ constant struggle to restore it

The lake is one of the many centres for the city’s untreated sewage, resulting in the spillage of toxic foam and despite the Lokayukta in 2019 ordering the Revenue department to survey the lake and clear it from encroachments, the restoration work moved at a snail’s pace.

Written by Aksheev Thakur | Bengaluru |
Updated: December 26, 2021 12:52:28 pm
After the Karnataka High Court’s order to free the city lakes of encroachments in August this year, the BBMP swung into action and found that more than 2 acres of the lake’s land has been encroached upon. (Express Photo)

Spread over 47 acres, the Kaggadasapura Lake located in Bengaluru’s C V Raman Nagar is an ideal example of citizens’ struggle with various government agencies to restore a waterbody.

The lake is one of the many centres for the city’s untreated sewage, resulting in the spillage of toxic foam and despite the Lokayukta in 2019 ordering the Revenue department to survey the lake and clear it from encroachments, the restoration work moved at a snail’s pace.

While some of the encroachers in connivance with revenue officials saved their constructions on the lake’s land during the survey itself, the lake bed started accumulating heaps of garbage despite orders against dumping by the municipal corporation.

The lake is one of the many centres for the city’s untreated sewage, resulting in the spillage of toxic foam. (Express Photo)

In 2012, the residents of CV Raman Nagar joined hands to clean up the lake. A resident of the area, on condition of anonymity, said local MLA S Raghu never supported the initiative towards restoring the lake.

“The situation became so worse that he even abused and threatened those involved in cleaning the lake. We kept asking the nodal agencies like the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the BWSSB (Bangalore Water Sewerage and Sewerage Board) on the status of the restoration of the lake but they were hardly responsive,” he added.

In 2019, Rs 16 crore was given as financial aid by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) to the BWSSB to install a sewage treatment plant (STP) but the construction of the same is yet to begin.

After the Karnataka High Court’s order to free the city lakes of encroachments in August this year, the BBMP swung into action and found that more than 2 acres of the lake’s land has been encroached upon.

In 2012, the residents of CV Raman Nagar joined hands to clean up the lake. (Express Photo)

While encroachments were removed from 1.125 acres of the lake area, the eviction of other encroachments, including residential apartments, a compound wall of a school, house of a temple priest and transformers of Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (BESCOM), were paused.

“The decision on clearing the house of the priest of Jalakanteshwari Temple is yet to be taken as the residents of the area have informed that the clearance or displacement might hurt religious feelings. A letter has been written to the Deputy Commissioner to present the case at the district-level committee as per the instructions of the High Court and the government. There is a stay order of the High Court on other encroachments which mostly includes residential premises,” a BBMP official said.

Kaggadasapura Lake is being redeveloped under the Chief Minister’s Nagarothana scheme at an estimated cost of Rs 8 crore.

“At least 25 per cent of all the development projects are complete. We are constructing a sewage diversion drain and are hopeful of completing the development works by May 2022. The construction of a silt trap, sluice gate and the work to strengthen the lake bank, pedestrian track work and laying down of slabs on the slope of the bank are pending. The works have slowed down due to the monsoon and ongoing installation of a sewage pipeline by BWSSB,” CV Raman Nagar executive engineer (BBMP) Ravi told The Indian Express.

Kaggadasapura Lake is being redeveloped under the Chief Minister’s Nagarothana scheme at an estimated cost of Rs 8 crore. (Express Photo)

However, Ram Prasad, co-founder of Friends of Lakes, a citizens’ group, said that the biggest challenge is to get treated water to the lake.

“The biggest challenge at this lake is to get treated water or rain water to this lake. Moreover, there are encroachments on the primary drains. If BWSSB becomes strict in ensuring that there is zero flow in the channels connected to the lake then there could be a positive development towards restoring the lake,” he said.

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