Sav­ing city lakes

To counter the rapid decline of its lakes, Kar­nataka is cre­at­ing a new author­ity with pow­ers to fine and im­prison en­croach­ers and pol­luters. Will it be able to re­verse the trend? Ur­bLanakes

Down to Earth - - LAKE CONSERVATION - SUSH­MITA SEN­GUPTA |

ON FE­BRU­ARY 9, the Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly of Kar­nataka passed a Bill to cre­ate an author­ity for man­age­ment of lakes in the state. The Kar­nataka Lake Con­ser­va­tion and Devel­op­ment Author­ity Bill (2014), which has been sent to the gover­nor for ap­proval, pro­vides for a Kar­nataka Lake Con­ser­va­tion and Devel­op­ment Author­ity. Though the state al­ready has a Lake Devel­op­ment Author­ity (lda), it has not been able to check the decline in the num­ber of lakes or the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in the qual­ity of wa­ter. lda chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer C K Shivanna says the body is tooth­less be­cause it lacks legal power.The new Bill seeks to ad­dress this short­com­ing.

“The num­ber of lakes in Greater Ben­galuru has dras­ti­cally re­duced due to an­thro­pogenic fac­tors.From 207 lakes in the 1970s, the num­ber came down to 93 in 2010,”says T V Ra­machan­dra of Cen­tre for Eco­log­i­cal Sciences, In­dian In­sti­tute of Sciences, Ben­galuru. Lakes such as Madi­wala, Bel­lan­dur, Ho­ra­mavu, Akere, Ul­soor and Heb­bal are cov­ered by weed as sewage is al­lowed to flow into them. More than 50 per cent of the lakes in the city have been en­croached, says Ra­machan­dra. A sur­vey he did in 2007 showed that 72 per cent of lakes in Greater Ben­galuru have seen a loss of catch­ment area. His re­search pre­dicts that if the ur­ban sprawl con­tin­ues to grow at the cur­rent rate, Ben­galuru may lose its wa­ter bod­ies, green cover and open spa­ces by 2020 (see ‘On a down­ward spi­ral’).Set­ting up a new author­ity is, there­fore, a wel­come step, he says.

New set up

The new author­ity will func­tion through a 16-mem­ber gov­ern­ing coun­cil, chaired by the chief sec­re­tary,and an ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.The gov­ern­ing coun­cil will also have three gov­ern­ment-nom­i­nated en­vi­ron­ment ex-

Over two-thirds of Ben­galuru's lakes have lost large parts of their catch­ment area

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