As Bengaluru's fireman struggled to douse the fire which had broken out at the Bellandur Lake in the city on Thursday (February 16) evening — the third instance in a span of just six months — the local residents and activists vented their anger against the authorities for not doing enough to save the waterbody.
Bellandur Lake, which was once known for its scenic appeal, has been making the headlines for the negative reasons over the last few years. The lake has become a ground for dumping domestic and industrial wastes and the concentration of the pollutants in it has so intense that even fire is breaking out at times besides the formation of dense toxic foam spilling over into the adjoining roads.
The local residents living around the lake have put up angry posts on the social media, blaming the government and elements that dump waste into the lake late in the night.
"What is with the government and their double standards? On one hand you call Bangalore the most dynamic city in India and then on the other hand you let a lake get engulfed in fire. The residents of Bellandur are the highest tax payers and this is how you treat them?", said a deeply anguished Priya Chetty Rajagopal, one of the founding members of the Citizens for Bangalore.
"Dumping of wastes and many more fires will keep on occurring because the government looks at everything from a material point of view", added Rajagopal.
The same question was echoed by yet another concerned citizen and a lake activist, Kavita Reddy. "These disgusting incidents will keep on happening until government, industries and even residents for that matter come together and refrain from dumping garbage. Moreover, only those politicians and NGOs who are genuinely interested to help revive these lakes, should take part to come up with a holistic solution", she said.
Kavita Reddy, who has been extensively working on various lake revival projects in Bengaluru, has outlined four simple steps to manage waste and revive the lakes:
- Firstly, set up underground pipelines across the city to carry the waste to sewage treatment plants (STP) before dumping it in the upper-catchment areas of the rivers. This project will cost Rs 5,000 crore.
- The pollution control board (PCB) should ensure that industries set up effluent treatment plants while residential areas should have STPs.
- To prevent solid waste from entering lakes, trash traps or garbage traps should be build at every 200 metres in the sewage system. These traps should be cleaned once in four days.
- Finally, the PCB should set up a sensor to measure the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) levels in water, which should be monitored online. Any fluctuations in the prescribed level should be instantly looked into.
Sanchita Jha, founder of the 'Save Bellandur, Save Bangalore' forum said they will campaign against this recurring incidents of fire and start with flooding the account of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah with tweets.
Karnataka State Pollution Control Board chairman Lakshman said that notices have been issued to Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike, Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewage Board and other agencies to stop the dumping of waste into the lake. He also said the board is in the process of inspecting the sewage treatment plants in the area.