Bengaluru: Activists question government's silence on clarifying violations near lakes and wetlands

They say when citizens stand together, everything is possible. Such is the case of those residing in Thubrahalli village. After noticing cases of encroachment near the Bellandur Amanikere, they immediately informed all the concerned officials and kept track of the progress of their complaints.

It has partially paid off with officials first visiting the encroached areas on Tuesday evening and instructing the digging of trenches to make sure trucks cannot dump construction and demolition waste in the lake land or near the primary storm water drains.

On Wednesday as well, a large number of senior officials led by Mahendra Jain, Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development Department visited the village and the encroached areas and have instructed the revenue officials to complete the survey work immediately.

"I have visited the spot today and have spoken to the revenue secretary. The survey work has begun today and we will start fencing as soon as the survey is done," Mahendra Jain tells India Today.


Less than a kilometre and adjacent to the Thubrahalli village, in the vicinity of the Belandur Amanikere is the Munnekolala village. Here too the waters flow from upstream Belandur lake to downstream Varthur lake. But, it is the alleged illegal immigrants in the area who dump garbage in the lake after scavenging what they need. This has resulted in the garbage blocking the natural flow of the lake waters. In many places, it is just garbage floating on the waters along with weeds.

A further distance away, one can notice mounds of construction and demolition waste along with garbage right near the periphery of the lake. This is in direct violation of the National Green Tribunal guidelines which clearly mandate a buffer zone to be maintained and also preservation of the lake and wetlands. Jagadish Reddy, a citizen activist, who has taken up the initiative to stop all these encroachments tells us that this place is far worse when compared to the encroachment in the Thubrahalli village. "Both C&D waste, garbage and mud have been vehemently dumped here," he says.

However, in spite of work beginning to clean the Belandur lake by various civic bodies as mandated by the National Green Tribunal in its April 19 order, Sridhar Pabbisetty, CEO, Namma Bengaluru Foundation tells us that rampant dumping is still going on in the primary storm water drains between the Belandur and Varthur lake. He further adds that, "What is done in summer will be undone when it begins to rain since all the muck deposited in the storm water drains will end up in the Varthur lake." This means that rejuvenation of the Varthur lake will be all the more difficult and costlier.

Many lake activists want the state government to come out with an action plan instead of focusing on many activities and completing none properly.

Pabbisetty enumerates the priority works to be done.

  1. Identify primary storm water drains and specify buffer zones around the drains
  2. What activities are permissible and non-permissible in these buffer zones
  3. Complete survey of the lakes and set up of boundaries

Today the biggest problem lake activists face is the lack of proper documents which leads to encroachers claiming they are in the right. "But, when we superimpose the maps and locations, we understand that this is indeed a part of the lake," Pabbisetty adds.

With inputs from Anna Thomas

Also read:

India Today Impact: Bengaluru's Bellandur Lake to start breathing again as cleaning begins

Bengaluru: Encroachments on rise as govt fails to demarcate lake, storm water drains