Heads should roll, says Bengaluru mayor Sampath Raj after visiting Bellandur Lake
The infamous Bellandur Lake was once more in the news after residents spotted it on fire and thick black smoke billowing from it. It was later identified as a small part of the lake near an army base that had caught fire.
The pictures and videos that were circulated on social media had the residents of Bengaluru up in arms demanding serious action and not just lip service from their elected representatives. The mayor along with his team first reached the part of the lake that was on fire. Following him was Union Minister Prakash Javadekar along with other BJP MPs.
As is the case, the politicians only came, spoke, posed for photos and left.
Sampath Raj, the mayor representing the Congress, said, "This is an issue that goes back decades and cannot be rectified immediately." He further said that heads should roll and added that it was only recently that genuine work began to clean up this mess.
The BJP, on the other hand, lambasted the state government stating that a lot of money has been sanctioned to save not only the Bellandur Lake, but other lakes in the city as well. But they claim this money has been diverted for other purposes.
In all these blame games, it was the Karnataka Fire and Emergency Services personnel who played a stellar role in bringing the situation under control. From the time the fire was noticed, they have been non-stop working to douse the flames in spite of the continuously changing wind directions that hampered their job.
The fire began on Friday morning and subsided initially. But towards the evening, it once more started, and this time, the intensity was so huge that the army had to bring in almost 5,000 jawans to make sure their camp is safe. Work to control the fire went on through the night and they finally managed to stop the fire by morning.
On Saturday, Lt General Vipin Gupta, Commandant, ASC Centre and College was on the ground to direct his troops.
He said, "A sentry spotted the fire on Friday around noon. The fire was so big that we alerted all in the camp." He further added, "We will take the case up with the state government since our camp is on one side of the lake and every year there are fires."
On what could have led to this fire, he opined that it could happen due to any reason. There is speculation that this could have happened due to a chemical reaction, he observed.
Local residents are fuming with the state of affairs today in spite of the civic authorities promising the moon when it comes to saving the lakes of Bengaluru.
Srinivas said, "We get contaminated water. What is the state and Union government doing even after NGT order? The sewage clearing machines are also not working."
Another resident, Satish said, "In the surrounding 10kms of the lake, the air is polluted and water is poisonous."
According to officials, this is the fourth incident of a part of the lake on fire since 2015 and many believe it will not be the last.
Last April, the NGT had ordered the state government to shut down all polluting industries around the Bellandur Lake, but that has clearly not happened. They have also instructed apartments to set up STPs, but here too, nothing much has moved beyond serving them all notices.
With inputs from Riya Callaghan