Marshy land with algae covering the water body, open drains with continuous flow of sewage water, acres of land that are turned to dumping yards with a foul odour. This is the view visitors witness at Kengeri Lake.
The rejuvenation project for Kengeri Lake was taken up by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP)in January 2023. It was expected to be completed by June 2023, however, there hasn’t been any progress.
Narayan R, who lives near the lake said, “Whenever I pass by the lake, the foul smell makes it uneasy for me to breathe. The waste has been piling up on the sides of the lake, turning it into a dumpyard.” He added, “I often see bus drivers and passers-by urinating by the lakeside.”
“I was glad to see the lake rejuvenation work that began last year. Since I saw the workers around the lake for a month, I expected that the work would be completed soon. However, the work abruptly stopped,” shared Divyabharathi, a local resident.
The officials say that the project delay is due to the ongoing Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) sewage pipeline installation work. Geetha L, Executive Engineer of the BBMP (Lake Department) said, “The lake rejuvenation project is expected to be completed by March 2024.
She added, “The BWSSB workers continued laying underground sewage pipelines along the embankment. This raised the required height of the existing sewage manhole to the top level of the lake bund. Additionally, the work was often halted due to heavy rain in June and July, 2023.”
The locals say that the lake rejuvenation work has been halted for some time now. Shweta, a police officer near Kengeri bus terminal said, “I have been assigned duty in this area for the last few months. However, I have never seen anycontractor working for the improvement of the lake.”
Akhilesh, a food stall owner nearby said, “I have been working here for over a year now, and I have noticed that the condition of the lake has still not improved.” He added , “The area around the lake has now become a grazing land for cows.”
Geetha L. said, “As per the plan the water body was supposed to be filled by rainwater, but there was not much development in work by late October, 2023. Further, BWSSB resumed their sewage pipeline installation work which still hasn’t been completed. ,”
The rejuvenation of the lake was announced by BBMP in December 2022, with an estimated budget of Rs. 4 crore with a plan made by the Consortium for Dewats Dissemination Society (CDD). CDD is funded by Hansa-flex with an amount of Rs. 23 lakhs for the rejuvenation of five lakes in the city.
The five lakes include KR Puram lake, Mylasandra and Sunkalpalya (twin) lakes, Nagavara lake, Kengeri lake and Hebbal lake. The fund provided by the organization had a motive of rejuvenating the lakes to restore its state and come up with sustainable solutions.
Vijaykumar Haridas, Chief Executive Engineer at BBMP (Lake Department) said, “A budget of Rs. 4 crore was passed, including Rs. 75 lakhs for dewatering and desilting, Rs. 37 lakhs for the construction of main bund which was approximately a 780 meters stretch. Additionally,a diversion of pipelines worth Rs 95. lakhs was to be constructed and three silt traps approximately worth Rs. 70 lakhs .”
“The development of the lake was under Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) as they were supposed to develop the lake under their corporate social responsibility activity (CSR). However, they were lacking funds and so it was handed over to BBMP in May 2022,” Vijaykumar added.
The rejuvenation of lake has been pending for many years now; the water body was last developed in 2005 when it was under the Karnataka Forest Department. However, the department spent money on fencing the lake and to build islands and walkways. Later, it was handed over to the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA). In 2012, the lake was handed over to BMRCL and they failed to develop the lake. Eventually, the work was handed over to BBMP in 2022.
As the rejuvenation of the lake is still pending and requires a few more months to be completed, expert Krishna M B, an ornithologists suggests that an extensive sloping shoreline be constructed right away. He said that provision should be made for the growth of reeds and anchored floating vegetation (like lotuses) for a healthy lake.
“By increasing the slope of the shoreline and lining it with stones and cement is one sure way of hampering the natural processes in the lake as it prevents the growth of emergent shoreline vegetation. It can prevent macro vegetation from growing. This would lead to nutrient traps and algal blooms. A soup bowl structure with cemented shorelines would not support bird life either,” he suggested.
A report released by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board 2023 states that the Kengeri or Doddakere Lake falls under grade D category which contains various harmful elements and is not suitable for any purpose.