Bengaluru Floods: Blame it on real estate, tree cutting, disappearing lakes
- The biggest bus stop in Bengaluru, Majestic or the Kempegowda Bus Station was built over a large lake
- According to the data available with BMRDA in 2001, there were 2,789 lakes in Bengaluru but now only 185 lakes are alive
- Currently, the number has reduced to less than 1000 lakes and most of them are filled with sewage, silt or contaminated
- Here are the details of how real estate dealers are controlling the land and water needs in Bengaluru
The biggest bus stop in Bengaluru, Majestic or the Kempegowda Bus Station was built over a large lake. Bengaluru has seen the development of infrastructure at the cost of losing the water bodies. Of course, with a number of large and small water bodies encroached upon Bengaluru is not in a position to manage heavy rainfall and the city has turned into a 'floody' place, where people fear even the half-an-hour rainfall.
Over 40 lakes have been encroached upon in Bengaluru and have been used to develop the city. Here is the list of lakes and what have these converted into. Many have vanished and filled with silt and do not even hold water when it rains.
According to the data available with Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority (BMRDA) in 2001, there were 2,789 lakes in Bengaluru. These lakes cover the land from two hectares to 50 hectares. But sadly, most of these lakes are on the verge of vanishing.
Bengaluru Citizens Matters had reported that in 1973, Bengaluru had 379 man-made lakes which are called tanks in 1973. But by 1996 the number reduced to 246. Accordingly, the land of 2342 hectares covered by these tanks also reduced to 918 hectares.
Another matter to be worried is that various studies have shown that 66 per cent of tanks in Bengaluru are sewage-laden. Overall 72 per cent catchment area has been lost. The lake catchments are being used as dump yards, and medical and municipal waste is seen on these tanks.
The largest lakes of Bengaluru are Madiwala Lake (114.3 acres), Sankey Tank (37.1 acres), Hebbala Lake (185.329 acres) and Ulsoor Lake (123.6 acres), which provide water to the people of Bengaluru have also been contaminated by the rainfall. The heavy rainfall has led to overflowing of the drainage which has no other way to go but to join these lakes. Thus the water in these lakes too can be used only after getting the positive report by the testing authorities.
There are other lakes which have brought Bengaluru in the news frequently for wrong reasons. The frothy Bellandur Lake contaminated Varthur Lake, Challakere Lake are polluted to the extent that the water cannot be used for anything.
Historic lakes like Bhairamangala, situated on the outskirts with a spread of 1,000 acres is not in a good condition even though several villages depend on it. Another water body, Vibhutipura Lake built in 1300 AD by the Hoysala kings and situated in Bengaluru East is also completely neglected.
Where do these lakes go?
The lakes are encroached upon mainly by the Real Estate dealers. The recent cases of denotification and cases against the likes of former CM Yeddyurappa and allegations of current chief minister Siddaramaiah and former CM Kumaraswamy role in denotifying the lakes and lakebeds is an example how the real estate is controlling the water policy of the state. Many times these dealers provide tanker water to people.
How ironic, if the lakes were not in the hands of private persons, people would have got water for free and didn't have to depend on the rates and prices decided by the real estate dealers and water mafia.
Where did the trees go?
Not only the loss of lakes but also cutting of trees has added to the current situation of the flood in Bengaluru. Even greenery has had to pay a heavy price for the development of the city. Whenever a train route, bridge, road or any transport related project is planned, trees are their first victims.
It can be remembered that recently at least 800 trees were to be cut for the steel bridge project in Bengaluru. But continuous protests by people and activists forced the government to shun the plan.
This success was in one case. But most of the cases, the beautiful bridges, or the widened road you see are built on the grave of thousands of trees.
In fact, Under Phase I of Namma Metro, barely nine trees were translocated while more than 2,500 were felled. In the second phase, almost 700 trees were cut, including 252 trees in the underground section, reported Bangalore Mirror.
The Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) has identified 174 low lying areas in the City including Koramangala, Thanisandra. According to the data: East zone has 48 flood-prone areas while south zone has 30, Rajrajeshwainagar and Mahadevapura zones have 25, west zone has 22, Bommanhalli has 14 while Dasarahalli and Yelahanaka zones have five each respectively, reported Bangalore Mirror.
Community effort is what is saving the lakes, trees
Many people, NGOs are coming forward to save the environment and greenery. Kannada stars Yash has adopted some lakes and is desilting them by spending his own money. Actor Prakash Rai known as Prakash Rai has adopted villages and is campaigning for saving wild animals and trees.
In many places, the apartment associations have come together to clean the tanks and lakes surrounding the apartments. More than the government, communities are seen active in saving the nature and environment.