What flows into the lakes of Bangalore….

Bangalore has for over the centuries developed and used an intricate and interconnected lake system. These were irrigation tanks constructed to fulfill water needs. They were built recognising the natural slopes in Bangalore along three valleys. They were also designed to carry the overflow of water from one lake to the next lake in the cascading series of lakes. This was done through canals or ‘rajakaluves’.

As Bangalore urbanised many of the lakes were converted into built up areas such as stadiums, bus stands, building complexes, residential layouts, factories, golf courses and thus their numbers came down drastically. This in turn increased the instances of flooding as the natural drainage to which the lake system was linked got affected. However, the remaining lakes such as the Ulsoor lake in Bangalore continued to provide many services such as regulation and storage of rainwater, an ecosystem for flora and fauna as well as impacts on the mirco climate and recharge of groundwater. They also serve as a public space for people.

The storm water drains that snake through the city play the role of directing rainwater to the lakes. However, due to callousness of the authorities and some lack of understanding by the citizenry, these storm water drains have become the receptacles of different types of waste, such as untreated sewerage, dry waste, effluents from small and big industry.

Mr. Zaffar Sait, who lives in Richards Town, has been photographically tracking what is being let into the storm water drains in that area, which then lead into Ulsoor lake. Efforts by Mr. Zaffar and the Richards Town Residents Association in approaching the city corporation (BBMP) and the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) to find a solution has not led anywhere, indicating apathy on behalf of the authorities!

This blogpost intends to bring attention to the problems facing the storm water drains and ultimately the lakes, through a visual presentation of what goes into the lakes with the help of Mr. Zaffar’s photographs.

Sewerage can be seen mixing with the water in the drain on Lewis road here….

Lewis road drain - 3

And the sewerage travels on….

Lewis road drain - 2

Lets see what else goes into the drains. This time its Kandasamy road and its a river of solid waste, especially plastic

Kandasamy road - 2

And the plastic floats on merging with sewerage….

Kandasamy road - 1

Its not just plastic that flows into the drain but thermocol as well which is dumped from the stalls located on the Moore road market

Thermocol in storm water drain - 1

Clothes and more plastic seen in this drain

Clothes and plastic in drain

And to add to this toxic cocktail we have blood from slaughterhouses on Pottery road

Pottery road drain slaughterhouse discharge - 1

Blood and fecal matter mix here

Fecal matter in storm water drain 2

Which mixes with dry waste and more sewerage

Pottery road drain slaughterhouse discharge - 2

BBMP did make attempts at installing screens/mesh to hold back the solid waste, but did not bother to do regular clean up/maintenance of this as can be seen here

Solid waster barricade in storm water drain

All of this leads to Ulsoor lake which is managed by the BBMP.  Unless measures such as setting up Sewerage Treatment Plants at a local level and ongoing maintenance of drains are not done, which includes prevention of waste from getting in as well as regular desilting, then efforts to treat various lakes using methods such bio-remedial treatment to improve the water quality, will prove useless and temporary fixes at best.

Can the authorities and us citizens do something about this….and soon!

Rohan D’Souza

virtuallyme@gmail.com