Bengaluru: Over 141 acres of land around 58 lakes in Bengaluru have been reclaimed by the state government of Karnataka in an ongoing drive to prevent land encroachment. In earlier days, deputy commissioner J Manjunath had ordered various departments including the revenue department, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike and KSPCB (Karnataka State Pollution Control Board) to survey the lakes and demolish encroachments.
To conduct eviction drives every Saturday, the tehsildars of all the taluks were ordered to do so. Manjunath explained, ‘We will remove encroachments once the lake’s surroundings have been surveyed. There is agriculture, sheds, commercial shops, and sometimes apartments on government lands. In some cases, stormwater drains (SWD) have encroached on these areas and we have prioritized them to ensure that water flow is not obstructed’.
‘The area around Chandpura lake was recently restored after 40 years,’ said army veteran Captain Santhosh Kumar, who brought instances of encroachment to the government’s attention on several occasions. A huge part of the lake was encroached. The former Army personnel, who has been receiving threats for some time now for pursuing the issue with the government, added, ‘A joint operation team comprising police, taluk panchayats and forest department has been launched to reclaim Singasandra, Naganayakanahalli, Dasanapura, Bendaganahalli, Vabasandra, S.Bengipura, Burugukuntae, Ghatahalli, Dommasandra, Avalahalli, Chikkanahalli, Hulimangala lakes from the encroachers’.
‘In Anekal Taluk, these water bodies are part of an elaborate system of interconnected lakes and canals that receive almost all surface runoff, wastewater, and sewage. The taluks have been divided into teams of three members, a PDO (Panchayat Development Officer), a revenue inspector and a surveyor,’ Kumar explained. Rather than erect poles to mark the survey of the lakes, the government has adopted the method of digging trenches. Encroachers used to remove poles and stones which altered the survey area in the absence of officers, and the method was adopted to prevent this practice from reoccurring.
4.5 kilometres of SWD from Muthanallur lake to Battalkere lake were cleared of encroachments last month. Manjunath emphasized that five cities in Bengaluru Urban overused groundwater due to a shortage of groundwater. ‘Residential apartments are mushrooming, and we must regulate groundwater usage. It is necessary to replenish the groundwater and this can only be done by reclaiming lakes,;’ he said.
Lakes and their jurisdiction
Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike — 284 lakes
Zila panchayat — 501
Minor Irrigation department — 46 lakes
Bangalore Development Authority — 5 lakes