Arkavathy: Bangalore’s river of dreams
The demand for the constitution of a River Arkavathy Rejuvenation Board or Authority to give an official push to the long struggle to revive and conserve this vital water source for Bangalore and its surroundings ran prominently at a roundtable of elected representatives, government agencies and NGOs called in Bangalore on Friday.
The demand for a budgetary allocation of Rs 100 core for the programme was also made on the occasion. The large part of this sum must go for a comprehensive survey of the river’s course, the depletion of catchment area, encroachments and the loss of the feeder lines to the large and small water tanks fed by the river, it was noted.
The meeting attended by Bangalore City in-charge minister R Ashok among others took note of the fact that industrial units and activities like sand mining continue to thrive along the river-bed not withstanding a government notification (of 2003) banning such activities within a 3-km radius of Arkavati’s catchment area.
The legislators faulted Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) in particular for its failure to control the industrial units from thriving in the restricted area.
ILLS ON ITS COURSE:
NGO participants led by SVARAJ (Society for Voluntary Action Revitalisation and Justice) called for immediate measures to clear encroachments on rajakaluves that feed the nearly 1,200 large and small water tanks along the river’s course. With much of these tanks now running dry, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board has commissioned a comprehensive survey by the Karnataka State Remote Sensing Applications Centre to identify the available water sources, BWSSB officials said.
The 190-km course of the river runs from Nandi Hills in Doddaballapur to Sangam in Kanakapura and traverses Bangalore Urban, Bangalore Rural, Chikballapur and Ramanagaram districts. If it is effluents from textile processing units in Doddaballapur, it is effluents from sericulture-oriented units in Ramanagaram, NGO representatives said and noted that granite mining, sand mining and sand filtering and real estate encroachments are the others that together spell the bane of River Arkavati.
While most legislators from Bangalore area cutting across party affiliations attended the half-day meeting, agencies like the BBMP and KPTCL and the Minor Irrigation Department failed to send any representatives. The case for the constitution of a board or authority would be placed before the chief minister, the legislators said and also agreed to hold monthly meetings on the river rejuvenation programme.
In the meanwhile, NGO representatives mused over their role should the government heed the demand for constitution of a board or authority for rejuvenation of River Arkavathy.
“It is a difficult question. Perhaps the Board can take care of the technical aspects and we (NGOs) can continue with our work among the river-bed communities,” said a member of Svaraj.