Bangalore floods: Activists say land mafia and civic agencies caused death of city’s lakes

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Reports of land encroachments in Bengaluru are gathering dust in government offices as politicians and government officials do not want to open them, a former IAS officer has said.

As Bengaluru witnessed torrential rains, submerging thoroughfares, apartment complexes and homes, several activists claimed it was the “land mafia who turned the feeder canals of these water bodies into sewers. and diverted their flow”. Leo F Saldanha, coordinator of the Environment Support Group, a non-governmental organization based in Bengaluru, said: “This mischief of land sharks, in collusion with some vested interests in various civic agencies and within government, has led to the death of the lakes in the city.”

He added that Bangalore, which British leaders had called the “city of a thousand lakes” for having more than 1,600 lakes, today finds itself with just 400 bodies of water in the Bangalore metropolitan area. “These lakes that have disappeared have given way to residential developments, bus stops, bus terminals and technology parks. Unfortunately, these 400 lakes are also on the verge of being destroyed,” Saldanha told PTI . Citing the example of Lake Subramanyapura in South Bengaluru, he said it had shrunk to a sump and was choked with weeds. “One can hardly imagine that just 15 years ago people used its water for drinking and bathing,” he said.

“Ironically, Bangalore Development Authority not only developed a plan on another lake ‘Venkatarayanakere’, located upstream of Subramanyapura Lake, but two massive residential complexes were built exactly on the feeder channels of these two lakes “, affirmed Saldanha. According to Saldanha, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) reduced the width of its 60ft supply channel to a mere 10ft wide drain in two years. “The lake’s supply channel carries sewage from nearby apartments and residential developments. The drain does not empty a drop of rainwater into the lake. Instead, it is diverted to the Vrishabhavathi river branch. The Vrishabhavathi River is now reduced to a major sewage drain,” Saldanha said.

“It is a fact that Lake Subramanyapura has been in the court’s attention since 2009 and we are now in 2022. But even with judicial review, the rajakaluve (lake supply channel) has been destroyed. Apartments have It shows the weakness of the system,” he added. Ravi Kumar, a resident of Chikkalasandra in the region, alleged that within a two-km radius of Lake Subramanyapura, land sharks engulfed Lake Chikkalasandra , Lake Ittamadu and Narayanakere and turned them into residential development illegally, while the civic agency finds itself powerless to recover them.” The civic agencies had removed the encroachment on Lake Chikkalasandra a few years ago, but the encroachments are back. This time, even the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike parks their garbage vehicles inside the ‘lake bed’, allowing others to encroach on it,” Kumar alleged.

Due to last week’s heavy downpour, Lake Bellandur has swelled to monstrous proportions, submerging all areas that have been encroached upon. “I live in Bellandur. I can’t move because of the floods last week. It’s been more than 15 years since I moved here but I’ve never experienced such a flood,” an executive said from a company. said PTI requesting anonymity.

A former IAS officer who requested anonymity said the government cared least about Bengaluru’s problems. “The AT Ramaswamy committee report and the V Balasubramanian report ‘Greed and Connivance’ are gathering dust in the seedy corners of government offices. For politicians and government officials, these reports are like a Pandora’s box, which they don’t want to open,” he alleged.

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