Activists, residents clean up lake, BBMP spends Rs 3 crore from public money and develop the lake only for the BWSSB to flood it with sewage!

Civic activists, residents’ efforts and BBMP’s Rs 3 crore to develop Challakere Lake in Horamavu suffered a blow as the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewage Board (BWSSB) has released the sewage into the lake. The lake was developed in a phased manner and was ready to hold this year’s rainwater. However the BWSSB has not only released its sewage water into lake and claims innocence.

The civic activists, lake activists and residents had put years of efforts to clean 38 acres of Challakere Lake hoping to collect rainwater. However their dreams suffered a big blow as BWSSB failed to stop sewage from flowing into the storm water drain that connects lake.

The BWSSB Assistant Engineer Chalapathi says, “There was the problem of sewage seeping into Challakere Lake. This area was included in the BBMP limits in 2008 along with 110 villages. Since the area did not come under BBMP earlier, the sewage was directly released into the lake. "The BWSSB had put a 450 mm diameter pipe and diverted all the sewage to tertiary line for treatment. The BWSSB has done everything to stop the sewage inflow," he said.

However the residents say that nothing has been done to stop the sewage flowing into the lake and that the authorities were lying. “The BWSSB may have put a pipe to stop the sewage, but it has not done its job properly. Had the board done a good job, the lake would not have been brimming with sewage now,” said a resident.

“The BWSSB might have diverted its water pipes into BBMP's stormwater drain. This is very sad as the hope of having a clean lake with surrounded with fresh air and lush greenery around has remained a distant dream," said resident.

 The residents invited the deputy Lokayukta Subash Adi to show the plight of the lake in 2014. Following his visit, the BWSSB and BBMP were asked to rejuvenate the lake.

"Rs 3 crore was spent to remove the silt, put bunds and fence the area. However, as soon as the lake development work was completed, BWSSB diverted its sewage into this lake. This has raised serious doubts about the quality of work," said Madhuri Subbarao, Co-Founder, and Friends of Lake.

When residents and activists approached BBMP Lakes Division as it is the custodian of Challakere Lake, the official said, the development work of the lake has been completed successfully. According to the officer, the sewage and garbage that entered into lake has been arrested in the wetland and the sewage has not gone into the lake.

“There is absolutely no issue, but few activists are making the problem look big. BBMP has done its duty well with regard to development of the lake,” said a senior official from BBMP.

Sridhar Pabbisetty, CEO Namma Bengaluru Foundation and a lake activist lashed out at the BBMP and BWSSB for not protecting the lake and said, “The Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority should take action against officials and prosecute them for contaminating the lake with sewage. If they fail, we will look for other option.”