Bangalore, located on the Deccan plateau, has long since been known as the City of Lakes. The city owes this title to Kempe Gowda, a local chieftain and the founder of Bangalore. He was instrumental in building the lakes or ‘tanks’ in the 16th century for fishing, irrigation and drinking water. Needless to say, these lakes proved to be the lifeline of the city.
Once known to be a city of 1,000 lakes, it has reduced to only 189 in 2020. The rapid urbanisation and unplanned development have taken a toll on our lakes in the city by mass encroachment. Sadly, the effect of this is visible everywhere. Take the example of Arakere Lake, which used to be filled to the brim with water but is now dry with only sewage water running underneath. I’m sure everyone is familiar with the Bellandur lake crisis when the lake caught on fire in 2017 and spewed froth.
Did you know that the well-known Kempegowda Majestic Bus Station was originally a lake known as the Dharmambudhi lake? There are plenty of examples ranging from stadiums, educational institutions to residential layouts. While I agree we need places like this, I believe they can be built elsewhere to not add to the loss of lakes.
Impact of the reduction in the number of lakes in Bangalore
With the depletion in the number of lakes, Bangalore is facing issues of an imminent water crisis. The master plan for Bangalore that was published by the Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA) states that the city’s population would increase by a staggering 8 million people. The population of Bangalore as of 2021 is estimated to be over 1.42 crore. We are already facing constant water issues, with newer areas depending on water from borewells and tankers. This has further been affected by the loss of our beautiful lakes.
Bangalore’s lakes host 333 various types of flora and fauna. All of them play a critical role in the lakes’ ecosystem that is being endangered by the toxic chemical from the sewage emptied into the lakes.
What is harming the lakes in Bangalore?
Many people have built buildings on lake land, paying no heed to laws. Apart from the large-scale encroachment, sewage is being dumped into lakes. This is especially true for lakes situated on the city’s outskirts as they are only recently developed or being developed and hence have no structured sewage system. The Idol immersions during festivals only worsen the lake pollution. To solve this, inspiration can be taken from Ulsoor lake, where they have created a separate tank right next to the lake for idol immersions. This way, people can still celebrate the same way while not adding to the pollution levels of our lakes.
Actions to curb destroying our lakes in Bangalore
One prominent non-profit organisation (NGO) is United Way Bangalore, working on the rejuvenation of lakes since 2008 called Wake the Lake and has managed to rejuvenate over 20 lakes in the city. Many NGOs have come under one banner known as the “ONE BENGALURU FOR LAKES” (OBL) to combine their power and run a citywide campaign.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) is an act of the Parliament of India, which allows for creating a tribunal to handle cases related to environmental issues. A buffer zone is an area of land reserved is for environmental protection.
A report published in The News Minute reveals that the NGT set an increased buffer zone of 75 metres around lakes, which was later overturned to 30 metres due to various complaints.
Lakes have long since been an integral part of the city of Bangalore. Not only for the area’s biodiversity, but they have been places for people to gather and have fun and experience a sense of community. It is a travesty that we have lost so many of our lakes due to factors that are in our control.
However, measures and actions are being taken by the BBMP to ensure this doesn’t continue and that eventually, with the help of rejuvenation, Bangalore will once again be known as ‘The City of Lakes’.
Contributor: Ananya Sampath
About our Writing Program Student
Ananya Sampath is a 11th Grade student studying at Legacy School, Bangalore. She enjoys reading, playing badminton and dancing in her free time. She is passionate about history and enjoys learning about new cultures and mythologies.
National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) of the Government of India