Demand for public domain data on water quality, restoration and rejuvenation plans for lakes, and closure orders and fines for industries polluting lakes within Bangalore.
Campaign partner: Namma Bengaluru Foundation
Sri Dr Shanth.A.Thimmaiah, Chairman KSPCB
Gunjan Krishna IAS, Commissioner of Industrial Development & Director of Industries & Commerce (Board member, KSPCB)
Shri. N. Jayaram, IAS, Chairman Bangalore Water Supply & Sewerage Board (BWSSB) (Board member, KSPCB)
Sri V.S Kumar, Environment Officer, Infrastructure Division (State Level Enforcement Committee, KSPCB)
What is the issue?
The interconnected network of Bengaluru's lakes and storm drains functions like the vital arteries and veins coursing throughout the city, ultimately channelling water into its lifeblood—the underground aquifers. These lakes and storm drains are also flood regulators and prevent flooding in an ever-concretizing city. Regrettably, the rampant urbanisation and haphazard development of Bengaluru have led to dangerous contamination of its groundwater and loss of functions of its deteriorating lakes. This grave concern demands immediate and concerted action, for nearly 40% of the city's populace relies on groundwater sources like borewells and open wells to meet their daily requirements of potable, culinary, and hygiene-related water. The city is also seeing higher and faster rates of flooding.
Many sources jeopardise the sanctity of these aquifers, including polluted surface waterbodies like polluted lakes, compromised sanitation systems, and the leachate from waste dumping sites and inadequately lined landfills. Direct consumption of contaminated groundwater poses a serious health risk. At the same time, its utilisation in agricultural endeavours may introduce harmful contaminants into the food chain, amplifying the potential threats to public well-being.
The Environmental Management & Policy Research Institute (EMPRI) conducted a comprehensive study, revealing a startling fact: industrial effluents, sewage, and irresponsible dumping of solid waste mar approximately 85% of Bengaluru's waterbodies.
Disturbingly, residents throughout the city have reported discoloured or foul-smelling discharge from borewells, underscoring the infiltration of sewage and chemical pollutants into the water table. Visible signs such as discolouration, turbidity, and unpleasant odours are stark indicators of water contamination2.
In recent years, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has reprimanded state government authorities for failing to shield the lakes from pollution. Notably, in 2022, the NGT imposed a substantial environmental compensation of Rs 500 crore on the Karnataka government for failing to protect Chandapura Lake from decay, directing the authorities to recover the amount from the offending industries.
Further, in 2017, the NGT directed the Karnataka government to seal all industries located in close proximity to the Bellandur Lake.
Regrettably, recent information from the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) disclosed a distressing reality - authorities have not penalised any industries for polluting Bengaluru's lakes since 2017 and have not issued closure notices to erring industries. In response to an RTI filed on 21st September by The Indian Express, the KSPCB said, “It is to be informed that there are no industries fined for polluting lakes in Bengaluru since 2017 and no closure notices issued to industries for polluting lakes.”
Let's urge our government to:
Issue closure orders and fines for industries polluting lakes within Bengaluru, especially for Bellandur Lake, as ordered by the NGT.
Collect data on water quality and publish it in the public domain.
Create and implement lake restoration and rejuvenation plans for all of the 91 lakes of Bengaluru.