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
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