Tuesday, October 21, 2008

City’s lakes might quench city’s thirst

City’s lakes might quench city’s thirst
City’s lakes might be put to better use instead of being just dumping grounds for Ganesh idols. The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is likely to push forward the proposed scheme for sourcing drinking water from Bangalore’s lakes and valleys through the recycle and reuse process.

As many as 17 lakes, including Vrishabhavathi Valley and Koramangala and Challaghatta Valley, are among the water sources identified under the scheme which will be implemented under four different project heads. The scheme is expected to provide an additional 925 mld (millions of litres per day) to the city by 2015 and overcome the projected shortfall of 702 mld.

The Integrated Water Management Reuse of Waste Water in Vrishabhavathi, which was announced earlier, is billed to be the first of them. The notes on the project’s approval for funds from the Centre under JNNURM reveal that it is inclusive of customer awareness centres and demo plants. When asked about the project, former chief secretary and expert on environmental issues Ravindra, said that Bangalore was only going back to where it began. It was the lakes - Hessargahtta lake in particular and T G Halli tank later on - that met Bangalore’s drinking water needs before the city took to rapid growth, he observed. “Since we have exhausted the capacity to tap water from River Cauvery alternatives have to be found. Lakes are a source of surface water, which must be harnessed,” he suggested.

Meanwhile, the Lake Development Authority has its own reservations against the proposed scheme. For one thing, LDA’s ‘Adopt a Lake’ programme of the recent years has run into rough weather with the government voicing its displeasure. To make matters worse, the BWSSB is seeking some of the very lakes for which the LDA had the clients calling. Hebbal, Nagavara and Aagaram lakes are among them. There is also the LDA’s lack of confidence in the agencies who act as ‘watch and ward’ bodies for many lakes. As one common refrain in LDA goes, ‘The BDA makes layouts of lakes and the BBMP converts them to bus stands.’

This particular scheme is understood to have taken formal shape during the tenure of its previous chairman Latha Krishna Rao. She had earlier served as secretary of the Department of Forests, Environment and Ecology. As a BWSSB official puts it smugly: ‘The Government or the Revenue Department is the ultimate owner of these water bodies. Our experts have identified them and we are asking the government to hand them over to us.’Incidentally, year 2008 marks 75 years since water supply was started from the T G Halli tank.

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