Though the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has submitted before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that it would put an end to sewage entering the Bellandur and Varthur lakes after the commissioning of sewage treatment plants (STP), activists point out that it is yet to be materialised. Channels carrying sewage are yet to be connected to the plants, they say as the lakes continue to froth.
“The sewage is yet to be treated. Water quality has not improved although the BWSSB had submitted before the NGT that it would treat sewage by March 2021, it is not being done. The connection of the channels carrying sewage with the STP is yet to be done,” said Jagadish Reddy, a member of the Varthur and Bellandur lakes rejuvenation initiative.
He pointed out that through the diversion of the drains carrying sewage from Bellandur and Varthur, it has entered the downstream of Kelavarapalli dam near Hosur. “The water of the dam has turned foamy. The diversion is done to carry out desilting but the major issue is lack of treatment of sewage,” Reddy added.
Reddy highlighted that the desilting of Bellandur and Varthur lakes has stopped due to heavy rains in Bengaluru but pointed out that though the wetlands could have been constructed by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) during the same period, it was not done.
In 2017, the minor irrigation department facilitated an illegal construction of a pipeline on Varthur lake. The pipeline was meant to pump treated water to tanks in Kolar. Now defunct, the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA) that was the nodal authority of all water bodies in the state was kept out of the loop of this construction.
Though the NGT has directed the minor irrigation department to remove the pipeline, it still remains on the water body.
“The department has not removed the pipeline. According to the original plan for the lake rejuvenation, the pipeline has to be shifted to the periphery of the lake, which if not done 10 acres off of the lake will be lost,” he added.
The NGT in March 2021 dissolved the independent monitoring committee formed to oversee the rejuvenation works at both the lakes. The baton was handed over to the state chief secretary. However, lake activists point out that no major rejuvenation work has been carried out since and it was imperative that a citizen monitoring committee was framed for transparency.