Ulsoor lake: Clogged lung space

VINITA G SINGH

BANGALORE: Ulsoor Lake.

Location: Near MEG, Ulsoor Size: 50 hectares. Department it comes under: Bangalore City Corporation.

History: Ulsoor Lake is said to date back to the time of Kempe Gowda I and II in the 16th century. Two springs exist at the bottom of the lake, but they are now covered with heavy silt. It was constructed by Sir Lewin Bentham Bowring, the then commissioner of Bangalore. In its heyday, the lake was a big tourist spot and a vital lung space. Boating and MEG Regatta events took place on its tranquil, cool waters. The mini islands dotting the lake were used for film shootings and cultural events. Amid the trees lining the lake, joggers and walkers would sweat it out in the mornings and hawkers would peddle their wares on balmy summer evenings.

Problems: For as long as a Bangalorean can remember, Ulsoor Lake has evoked images of a murky green, foul smelling, polluted, contaminated, hyacinth-infested water body, brimming with slime. Urbanisation, pollution, poor management, unchecked effluent and sewage discharge have taken their toll on this once beautiful, serene lake. Over the years it has become an eyesore and a bane for residents living nearby.

Its pollution levels are a cause of concern for Bangaloreans. Constant efforts have been made to restore the lake to its former glory, but attempts have been abortive.

Ulsoor Lake is chock-a-block with water hyacinth and needs regular clearing up. It is silted to about 50 per cent of its actual depth and reports say that the quantity of silt on the lake bed is about five lakh metric tonnes.

Work done: The Ulsoor Lake park has been improved and is well maintained now. The joint cleanliness drive has breathed new life to the lake. Recently MEG soldiers put in a week's labour to clean up the lake.

A technical committee of the Save Ulsoor Lake Foundation, along with the Technology Alumni Association (IIT Kharagpur), has prepared a report on restoration of the lake. The committee has suggested desilting of the entire lake and measures to prevent entry of sewage and pollutants into it.

Activities: It is a popular boating spot. Ulsoor Lake is occasionally used for shooting films.

Status: The Foundation will soon take up restoration work for the lake at a cost of Rs 10 crore. Work is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The BWSSB has been asked to identify points where sewage enters the lake, and estimate the cost of diverting it. The underground drainage system needs to be relaid in some places. The BWSSB has estimated that it will cost Rs 2.07 crore to revamp the entire system. Work has commenced in high priority areas and depending on the availability of funds, they hope to complete the entire work by the end of this year.

Once the work is completed, entry of pollutants to the lake will be reduced by about 75 to 80 per cent. Remarks: The lake is fed by stormwater drains which often carry sewage in it. Desilting the lake should be done to restore it to its former glory. Apart from this, a water purifying system has to be provided to clean the water that enters the lake.