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Lakes of Bengaluru: Pollution in Amruthahalli lake affects economic dependency of people live near the waterbody

“The dependency of the community on Rachenhalli lake is about Rs 900 per day during fishing season. But Amruthahalli lake has no value due to lack of oxygen concentration or oxygen deficiency,” says a report.

“The lake exhibited severe pollution with high values of alkalinity, hardness, phosphates and a low level of dissolved oxygen,” the report said. (Express Photo)

Though several issues have been raised over the inflow of sewage into the lakes around Bengaluru, the government bodies pass the buck citing lack of funds. And because of this apathy, the Amruthahalli lake in the Yelahanka zone is dying a slow death due to huge inflow of sewage from nearby areas.

While carrying out an assessment of the Amruthahalli lake in 2000, T V Ramachandra, wetland specialist, Centre for Ecological Sciences at Indian Institute of Science (IISc), mentioned in his report that the waterbody had attained eutrophic conditions owing to the excessive inputs of nutrients and organic matter, the sources being, sewage and industrial effluents. “The lake exhibited severe pollution with high values of alkalinity, hardness, phosphates and a low level of dissolved oxygen,” the report said.

While stating the economic value of the wetland of Amruthahalli lake, the report stated that the economic dependency of people living around the lake was low due to the low quality of water. “The dependency of the community on Rachenhalli lake is about Rs 900 per day during fishing season. But Amruthahalli lake has no value due to lack of oxygen concentration or oxygen deficiency. The economic dependency for livestock in the Rachenahalli lake water is about Rs 37 per day and in Amruthahalli lake, it is about Rs 7 per day since the latter is degraded due to siltation, excessive input of domestic sewage,” the report stated.

Experts say that things have barely changed since then. The total extent of the lake as stated by the civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is 24.89 acre out of which 1 acre of the waterbody was encroached for road construction and 0.49 acre was gobbled up by private parties for building a shed, toilet and a chemical godown.

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“Last year, in August, we demolished the sheds and toilets which were illegally occupied in almost 0.49 acre of the lake property. The demolition was carried out on the basis of the survey in which we found that the waterbody’s property was encroached,” said BBMP.

While stating the economic value of the wetland of Amruthahalli lake, the report stated that the economic dependency of people living around the lake was low due to the low quality of water. (Express Photo)

“Amruthahalli lake was transferred from the custody of Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) to the BBMP and Rs 4 crore has been allocated for the development of the lake. The Karnataka Tank Conservation & Development Authority (KTCDA) will chalk out the plan for the development,” a BBMP official said.

Explaining the issues plaguing the waterbody, Dr Shobha Reddy, an environmental scientist said, “The extent of rapid and intensive urbanisation and development in the neighbourhood areas and upstream of Amruthahalli lake has led to heavy influx of sewage into the lake. The width of the storm water drainage system around the lake has also been reduced in the recent past. While on one side the city infrastructure for keeping rain water and sewage separate and ensuring proper conveyance without allowing mixing is lacking, on the other hand the regulatory compliances with respect to construction activities are also being flouted. Monitoring is hardly done, hence difficult to take action.”

The total extent of the lake as stated by the civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is 24.89 acre out of which 1 acre of the waterbody was encroached for road construction and 0.49 acre was gobbled up by private parties for building a shed, toilet and a chemical godown. (Express Photo)

She added, “Although recently some encroachments were cleared by BBMP, the problem of large volumes of sewage flowing into the lake needs to be addressed. The citizen groups are actively trying to work with all stakeholders to find a suitable solution for the lake. While focusing on the circular economy of water at the ward level and taking steps to rejuvenate lakes in the order of their location, it is first essential to work on the upstream lakes. These waterbodies are important ecosystems and should be managed accordingly.”

Reddy said that MLA Krishna Byre Gowda took interest in holding consultation meetings with important government stakeholders and she was hopeful to see some improvement. “Cities must ensure that blue and green spaces are mapped and demarcated as ‘no development zones’ in the city master plans, and fool-proof surveillance mechanisms for strong action against violations should be ensured,” she said.

Amruthahalli lake was transferred from the custody of Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) to the BBMP and Rs 4 crore has been allocated for the development of the lake. (Express Photo)

The residents also complained about the broken fencing around the lake. A resident of the area, Ravi H, who is also an active volunteer working towards the protection of the lake opined, “Water is contaminated with sewage and there is high risk of ground water getting contaminated due to this. This lake needs real development in terms of water quality, input water source along with regular maintenance of trees/plants, walking track, bund etc in the lake premises. The lake also needs basic amenities like toilets with clean water, drinking water facility for the people who go for regular walks. BBMP doesn’t seem to be serious about the development of this lake.”

He suggested, “The availability of one of the engineers on a regular basis, maybe once in a month on a particular day in the lake premises, may help citizens to interact with them.”

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