Monday, August 21, 2023

Namma Kere Event

     The first of its kind, this is an initiative by Citizens of Sankey and Bengaluru Praja Vedike to preserve and manage lakes of Bengaluru. The event mainly had two presentations by experts followed by a panel discussion.

Topic of discussion:  The gaps in lake management & preservation, actionable solutions.

Date & time: 19th August 2023 from 10 AM to 1.30 PM 

Venue: Seva Sadana, Malleshwaram, Bengaluru 

Speakers & Panelists: 

  1. (Prof) Dr T V Ramachandra, IISc 

  2. Dr U V Singh, IFS(R)

  3. Prof Rajeev Gowda - ex-MP & Academician

  4. Mukund Namagundlu - Civic Activist

  5. Smaran Shetty - Environmental Lawyer

  6. Preeti Gehlot - Special Commissioner for Lakes, Bengaluru

  7. Vasanthi Hariprakash - Moderator

The discussion had two parts - a presentation by Prof Dr TV Ramachandra and Dr U V Singh and a panel discussion with the experts.

Key takeaways from Prof T V Ramachandra’s presentation: 

  1. Background:

  • Currently, Bengaluru has 193 lakes and less than 4% tree cover

  • An unpolluted lake generates a revenue of around Rs.10,500/day/hectare, while a polluted lake only generates Rs.20/day/hectare. Eg- Amruthahalli Lake

  • Groundwater table & lakes: Removal of lakes decreases the groundwater level from 600’ to 80-100’ while the presence of a lake increases the groundwater table from 800’ to 350’ a year (Sarakki Kere)

  1. Problems involved: 

  • Lack of understanding of lakes 

  • No scientific rejuvenation - Emphasis on civic recreational work rather than eco-restoration; in the name of remodeling, there is only concretisation

  • Unplanned urbanization

  • Lack of proper solid waste management 

  • Unscientific rainwater storms

  • Distribution of pollution (biomagnification) through fishes, vegetables etc 

  1. Plausible solutions:

  1. Reuse and recycle wastewater

  • Compulsory tertiary treatment of wastewater before releasing  into lakes.

  • A successful case study - Revival of Jakkur lake - around 300  wells around Jakkur were revived, and none tested positive for nitrogen and phosphorus.

  1. Mini forest in each ward - a self-sustaining system around the lake 

  2. Proper rainwater harvesting set-up can solve most of the water scarcity problem of Bengaluru.

  3. Increase in environmental literacy involving the public and the youth.

Key takeaways from Dr U V Singh’s presentation:

Recommendations for lake conservation (administrative measures):

  • Inventory of all tanks (live and proposed lakes ) in Bengaluru 

  • Invoking Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority Act, 2014

  • Appointment of Chief Executive Officer by amending KTCDA Act

  • Appointment of authorized officers, required staff and planning regular meetings with them

  • No development of any lake or tank until an STP (Sewage Treatment Plant) is set up for the lake.

Key takeaways from the panel discussion:

  • Retain the lake as a part of the environment rather than making it human-centric. Maintain the integrity of lakes by considering the physical (less concretisation) and chemical (not releasing industrial effluents) components of the lake.
  • Propose a dedicated website for lakes in Bengaluru that includes a list of live lakes, encroachments, recreational activities, etc.
  • Establish a structured Community Participation Forum for each lake that includes the following: 
  • Involve a group of 10 people around the lake as the members of this Forum; maintaining the lake and the website should be their responsibility.  

  • Train the members effectively and arrange informative sessions by experts 

  • The community should have one government representative to smoothen the legal functioning 

  • Revenue from the lake should be recorded and updated on the website regularly

  • Declare all lakes as heritage sites to prevent any type of encroachments

  • The committee meetings should compulsorily involve representatives from the public. Also, EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) reports should be more scientific and transparent 
  • Environmental education should be made compulsory for all governmental employees, Politicians, private players and academicians to create awareness 

Blog written by, Apeksha Deshpande

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