Vikas Hande

A HUGE water body, once spread over several acres in the Hosur Sarjapur Road layout, is fading away thanks to land-grabbers who have begun encroaching on the lake from every side by means of reclamation. Meanwhile, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF), which are supposed to protect the lakes in city, have not acted to save the water body.

The lake, spread along the 150ft Ring Road and the 14th Main Road of sector V in HSR layout is a part of Bellandur Tank. It caught the attention of the land sharks following the opening of the ring road. Today it is one of the fastest developing areas of Bangalore.

"The lake has been virtually turned into a dumping place," says S Sridhar, a resident and a social worker in the area, adding, "Right from debris to dead animals and uprooted trees, everything is being dumped into this lake. People know that there's no one to raise any objections.

HSR layout is a hub of construction activity and is quickly becoming a concrete jungle. In the midst of all this development, little attention is being paid to this waterbody which is essential to maintain the ecological balance of the area. Construction material and debris from the old houses that are razed are finding their way into the lake.

Damage to the lake is also being caused by dumping animals which die in accidents along this strech. Ever since the Ring Road was opened, the traffic of heavy vehicles has increased and speeding trucks often knock down animals which graze in the nearby fields and stray onro the road. "Dozens of such accidents have taken place and the dead creatures have been dumped into the lake," adds Sridhar.

The area also has a number of garment factories which dump their waste and chemicals into the lake. Another resident points out, "Many garment factories and travel agencies have their offices on 14th Main Road, right opposite the lake. Though these people were till recently parking their vehicles on the road, the increase in traffic has created a space shortage. So, they've reclaimed a portion of the lake and use it for parking."

The creation of parking space is, in fact, the main reason why the dumping of debris into the lake is being encouraged. Truckloads of debris have been offloaded into the lake along 14th Main Road in the last two months alone. Residents now fear these land grabbers may go ahead and even erect permanent structures on the lake.

"We residents have informed the BDA about these activities, but so far no action has been taken," says a resident. They expect that the BDA should at least fencethe lake and put up signs warning the public against polluting the lake.

Residents fear more damage after the rains when a large portion of the lake dries up and encroachers put up sheds.