The frothing Bellandur Lake, which occasionally goes up in flames too, has been in the news for months now for its alarming pollution levels.
The Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA), which was tasked with cleaning up the lake, has turned to the Army Service Centre (ASC), asking them to take over the task of cleaning up and maintaining the lake.
“The BDA is an agency which works for making profits. Lake development and maintenance must be handled by the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike). We have liabilities worth over Rs 4,000 crore and we do not want the burden of cleaning up Bellandur Lake, which is costing us more money. Since the BBMP is also not interested in being the custodian of the lake, we are in talks with officials from the ASC and are asking them to take over the maintenance of the lake,” a BDA member engineer told TNM.
The officials said that the body had urged the state government to hand over the custody of Bellandur Lake to the BBMP and Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB).
This has not borne any fruit. We have not received any response from the government about this. The biggest problem here is the untreated water and sewage, which enters the lake. This should be handled by BWSSB. We don’t have expertise to clean up this lake.Official
Although 56 marshals have been deployed to guard the Bellandur lake, the dumping of debris in the lake continues to be a problem and it still catches fire from time to time.
“The BDA had in 2017 asked ASC to maintain the lake, but that proposal did not bear any fruit. We are in talks with them once again and it makes sense for the ASC to maintain the lake as they have the expertise, and also the equipment and manpower to clean up the lake,” the BDA official added.
Speaking to TNM, a defence official said that the Army is considering the pros and cons of the proposal, but nothing has been decided yet.
“The Army wants to maintain a clean environment and is in talks with the BDA and the state government. The formal arrangements are being made to address the problem in a professional and long-lasting manner,” the official added.
BDA and Lake Cleaning
This is not the first time the BDA has pawned off the responsibility of cleaning up lakes to the Army. InJune 2011, 1,000 jawans of the Madras Sappers de-weeded the garbage and sewage-riddled Ulsoor Lake.
The Sappers started work at 6 am, split into groups and used 8 Army boats to remove 300 truckloads of weed and garbage. What the BDA could not complete in three years after spending Rs 105 crore, the jawans finished in just eight hours.
Over a period of 10 months, the Madras Sappers regularly de-weeded the lake and were single-handedly responsible for making the noxious lake pristine again.
With the condition of the Bellandur Lake worsening every day, the BDA once again wants the Army to take up the task cleaning it up.
In 2010, when BS Yeddyurappa was Chief Minister of Karnataka, the custody of 170 lakes were shifted from BBMP to BDA.
In 2017, the custody of 110 lakes was handed over to the BBMP, while the BDA retained custody of 60 lakes. Now, the BDA wants to hand over the responsibility of managing lakes altogether to the BBMP and BWSSB.
However, neither the BBMP nor BWSSB are willing to take up this responsibility. According to a senior BBMP official, the civic body lacks funds to maintain all the lakes in the city. “The Rs 20 crore allotted for rejuvenation of 40 lakes and Rs 10 crore for maintenance of the 110 lakes is not enough. How can we use that money to clean up 60 more lakes? There is not enough money,” he added.
According to the BBMP official, the marshals deployed to guard Bellandur Lake, managed to stop the BWSSB from laying a water pipeline in the lake’s buffer zone on Monday morning.
“The contractor was digging up land to lay the pipeline and the marshals stopped them. The contractor did not have BBMP permit to dig up the area. We have written to BWSSB to rectify the matter,” the BBMP official added.
(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute.)