As the borewells in Balagere, Panathur, Ramgundanahalli and other villages surrounding Varthur lake are pumping out acid water, the vegetable farming has taken a hit in the last three years. The impact is so much so that several farmers have given away their land to real estate dealers as their crops have failed.

 

Murali, a farmer who owns one acre land in the Varthur-Balagere village border which was used to cultivate fresh vegetables, has seen his yearly profit go down from Rs 10 lakhs. The last three years the fields failed to produce crops and many of the plants died as well.

 

“The acid and contaminated water from Bellandur have entered Varthur and the surrounding villages. The water from the borewell is not helping the cultivation. I have debts and hence I gave my land to a real estate firm. My family will have to depend on the rentals now,” said Murali.

 

Chandrappa, his neighbour who owns three acres of land, is also contemplating giving his land away to real estate firms as the land has lost its fertility. The family once used to avoid getting vegetables like tomato, eggplant, ladies finger, carrot, field beans, cluster beans and various types of gourds from market as they used to produce them in abundance  and even supply to Marathalli and HAL markets. But from the last five years there has been no farming activity at all. “Although there is enough water in my borewell, I cannot cultivate as the water kills the crops,” he said.

 

Shankar Reddy, who has a land of 1.5 acres that comes under Varthur, says he can neither cultivate on the land nor sell it. He held BWSSB and apartment owners responsible for this situation. “For years, the sewage and chemicals were being let in Bellandur lake that flows into Varthur lake. Because of BWSSB's apathy towards stopping the sewage, many of the families here have now lost their livelihood,” he said, adding that he will approach the government to take over his land and give alternate land. “Although I have land, it has lost fertility and also the real estate value as construction is not allowed as per NGT order.”

 

BDA, which is the custodian of the lake, is now drawing plans to rejuvenate the lake and fence the lake. The BDA, along with BWSSB, will put a sewage treatment plant measuring 90 MLD capacities every day. 

 

“Once this process is completed, the clean water will enter the lake. The release of fresh water will help the lake swing back to life. The borewell will thus get refilled with clean water, and in a few years the situation will be back to normal,” said Nagaraj, superintendent of lakes, BDA.

 

Criticising officials for becoming a part of the nexus between real estate mafia and politicians in spoiling and killing our lakes, Sridhar Pabbisetty, CEO Namma Bengaluru Foundation, said,” Protection of lakes needs cooperation between Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority. They can pull up negligent authorities who are responsible for the bad condition of lakes. The concerned officers should be held accountable for the dumping of debris, domestic sewage and industrial sewage into the lakes,” he said.