On the 1st of May 2018, a couple of Bengaluru Lake activists got together to form The Federation of Bangalore Lakes.
The move to form a Federation comes as a result of a meeting held to discuss the Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority (KTCDA), and the effect it will have on water security and the many lakes in the city. The Lake Development Authority was given jurisdiction in Bengaluru’s lakes under the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority Act of 2014.
Several lake groups, like the Voice of Sarjapur, Friends of Lakes, Jal Mitra, Jala Poshan, Bellandur Lake Group etc., gathered to discuss the repeal of the Karnataka Lake Conservation Development Authority (KLCDA) Act, and the transfer of maintenance of all the lakes under all the municipal corporations including BBMP, to the control of the Minor Irrigation and Ground Water Development Department.
As per the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority Act 2014, “the jurisdiction of authority applies to all the lakes in the Karnataka State located within the limits of all Municipal Corporations and Bangalore Development Authority or any other water bodies or lakes notified Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority the Government from time to time.”
Speaking of the transfer of authority to the Minor Irrigation and Ground Water Development Department, Prof. KS Bhat, a member of the Federation, said – “The community participation was well conceived and it was going fairly well. Overnight, the government decided to repeal the order, the statutory order, with a new bill. There is a difference between a lake and a tank. Tanks are mere containers of water that supply water to irrigated land, whereas lakes have an ecological connotation. Most of the lakes in Bangalore are more lakes than tanks. They don’t have an irrigation purpose. Without understanding the technicality and the scientific approach to lakes, the decision was made. Unless there is a well organised body, we cannot fight it out”
Prof. KS Bhat is a founder of the trust that helps with the maintenance of Sarakki Lake.
The Federation was formed because lake groups are in isolation, and the need for a united voice was felt. They aim to be a pressure group, addressing the real-time problems of lake groups, organise kere habbas to celebrate the lakes, and provide a legal course of action wherever necessary. They also hope to strengthen the lake groups, and unite the various lake groups of the city. The Federation will operate within as well as outskirts of the city.
“I’ve always been interested in the Environment. I stay near Bellandur Lake, and have been a first- hand sufferer (from the degradation of the lake.) The Federation is a body that segregates all the problems, responses, and long-term futuristic planning for the lakes of Bengaluru” said Mr. Umashankar, a member of the Federation of Bangalore Lakes.
The various lake groups in the city face common problems that need to be addressed by all of them, together. This common platform hopes to deal with issues like encroachment in the lake beds, sewage flowing into the lakes, and the dumping of debris in lakes.
It’s unfair that this transfer was made without notifying the citizens and activists.
The Federation is a bold step towards creating an umbrella organisation for the various groups in the city, allowing for joint efforts into the restoration and maintenance of the lakes.
When asked if the federation sees itself as a political organisation in the coming years, the response from the members was a firm ‘no’. “It will be a purely apolitical organisation” says Bhat.
Its two prime objectives are to protect, restore and preserve the lakes of Bangalore, and provide a common platform to highlight the issues that various lake groups face. They plan on adopting a three pronged approach towards achieving their goals. They want to reach out to various government bodies, highlight the various issues faced through media like the news, and if nothing else works, take the judiciary’s help.