Originally spread over 18.6 acres, Iblur lake in the Bommanahalli zone of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) was restored at a cost of Rs 3 crore in 2019. However, local residents involved in the restoration work have now started alleging that the civic body was not doing enough to preserve the lake.
According to the BBMP, 9.9 acres of 18.6 acres were encroached by the government and private parties to construct a road, park, graveyard, nursery, and shops, among others. Today, the lake is spread over only 8.7 acres.
A member of Iblur Environs Trust, Naresh Sadasivan, said: “The lake is good. It is full of water. However, there are a few issues that need to be addressed. The wetland is separated from the lake by a stone wall. The wetland is supposed to purify the water and let it into the lake. Since the wetland wall is at a lower height, the sewage directly enters the waterbody. Encroachment is the other issue.”
“We have tried to remove a few encroachments. At present, there are encroachments that should be removed and the revenue department is not interested in removing them. A nursery has been set up in one corner of the lake area. At another corner, where we had created a small urban forest in a bid to protect the land, it was found that somebody had tried to start a fire and encroach the space.
“Iblur lake is surrounded by high value properties so many people are interested in encroaching whatever they can. Storm water drains (SWDs) have also been encroached. While the BBMP has managed to remove some of the encroachments, the eviction drive has not been completed yet. The downstream of Iblur that connects to Bellandur lake through a rajakaluve (SWD) has been encroached, so there is a possibility of flooding in the neighbourhood,” he added.
While the BBMP is on a spree to remove encroachments from SWDs in Mahadevapura zone, many believe that the move is an eyewash as the civic body is ‘shielding’ officials who were ‘responsible’ for issuing clearances to properties encroaching drains. “The BBMP is not serious about removing encroachments. Had it been serious, it would have punished officials who approved properties encroaching drains but here the buyers are being punished… The revenue department should mark the encroachments on Iblur lake but it is not serious either,” Sadasivan said.
The condition of the lake worsened after the Iblur flyover project began in 2010. The Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), which was then maintaining Iblur lake, had constructed a new sewage line across the Outer Ring Road (ORR). This resulted in untreated sewage entering the waterbody. It was then that the citizens requested for the transfer of the custody of the lake from the BDA to the BBMP. In 2016, the custody of the lake was transferred to the BBMP and the restoration of the waterbody began.