Bengaluru: It might be hard to believe that a lake could be a source of drinking water for four villages but the Chikkabannavara Lake was just that. Located on the Bengaluru-Tumkur highway and very close to Peenya, the lake quenched the thirst of Chikkabanavara, Somashettyhalli, Kereguddadahalli and Ganigarahalli villages. But that was 10 years ago. Now, like other lakes, it is polluted, thanks to untreated sewage water and illegal dumping of garbage.
According to Chennakeshav Murthy, President, Chikkabannavara Gram Panchayath, the lake has rapidly shrunk from 130 acres to 105 due to encroachments. "The lake was earlier under Minor Irrigation Department but was subsequently transferred to the Bengaluru Development Authority. This lake was once a home for many birds. Ten years ago, villagers used this water for drinking purpose. Now, sewage from nearby apartments, educational institutions and private hospitals has polluted the lake," said Murthy.
Another resident B Manjunath said apartments continue to let sewage into the lake in spite of being warned. "While some of these houses come under gram panchayat, educational institutions, hospitals and new apartment complexes come under the BBMP. Although these apartments show they have STPs, they really do not work and sewage is let directly into the drains and rajakaluves which connect to the lake," he said.
In 2014, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) conducted a study on the lake and inspected the nearby apartments. The report prepared by the KSPCB and available with bfirst.in identified private apartments as the major culprits when it came to letting untreated sewage into the lake. The report also said that STP units in four to five apartments located near the lake were non-functional.
In addition to this, restaurants and hotels dump their waste on the banks of the lake. Burning of garbage is rampant at the lake.
Anasuya, Panchayath Development Officer, said she was helpless. "We had erected boards asking people not to dirty the premises of the lake," said Anasuya. "Many times, we have caught these people red-handed and complained to the police. But nothing really works as they have political contacts. Now, the boards have also been removed. We have also written letter to BDA and also conducted a meeting. They say that there are short of funds to rejuvenate this lake."
The only hope is the STP setup by the BWSSB. Rajiv, a project engineer with the BWSSB, said, "We started the project last year and now 70 percent of the work is complete. The testing of sewage water is going on right now in this STP. By May-end, the STP will be functional. Once the STP starts working, we can ensure treated sewage water is let into the lake."
As with other lake rejuvenation efforts, the BDA, which is the custodian of the lake, is unaware of the problem. Nagraj, BDA, lakes in-charge said he would visit the lake. "But we are not aware of the garbage dumping. Regarding the sewage, BWSSB is all set to start the STP. Strict actions will be taken against garbage dumping and burning," said Nagraj.
Yellappa Reddy, environmentalist, said the BBMP, BWSSB and KSPCB should be held responsible for the plight of the lake. "The KSPCB, BBMP and BWSSB should have insisted the concerned builder on making proper arrangements to treat the sewage water before giving UGD connection. They issue licenses and also no objection certificate. If the KSPCB has inspected and found the STPs to be non- functional, they let them file an FIR against the builder, and stop the supply of power, water and everything," he said.
BBMP Joint Commissioner Venkatachalapathy was not available to comment.