Thursday, 12 June 2014

The lost lakes of Bangalore

This was my introduction for an article I was writing on Lake Protection Committees. However, my editor suggested  that I shouldn't 'put too much flashback' in my articles, or readers could lose interest.  But I personally love reading 'flashbacks' and therefore this post must see the light of day. 

As Bangalore spreads its wings and becomes larger than it should, it is witness to a multitude of problems. One among the several issues that she has had to bear is the dwindling number of lakes. These lakes, which once held a place of pride, are now facing extinction. Any other term would be too mild to describe the rate at which the city’s lakes are disappearing. 

A 1924 map which shows Koramangala, Sampangi and Dharmambudhi lakes. Koramangala Lake has now become the National Dairy Research Institute, Kanteerava Stadium stands where Sampangi Lake was and Kempegowda Bus Terminal occupies what used to be Dharmambudhi Lake. Pic: Wikimedia Commons
Bangalore was once home to over 900 lakes and tanks. Today the number of lakes in the city is a meagre 200 odd. Several of these lakes have been drained and developed to meet the needs of the city. Some of the areas that are now an integral part of the city were once lakes. Kanteerava Stadium was built over the Sampangi Tank. National Dairy Research Institute occupies what used to be Koramangala Lake. The football stadium at Ashoknagar was once the Shule Tank.

You can view the list of lakes that have been diverted or have lost their characteristics and paved the way for a ‘world-class’ city here . There's a whopping 43 of them on this list!

Several lakes have ceased to exist as a result of encroachment.  Several other lakes like Bellandur are highly polluted by sewage. As part of the malaria eradication programme, several lakes which had become breeding grounds for mosquitoes as a result of the polluted water, were breached and used for construction of buildings - Millers Tank is one among these. Some lakes such as Bovimaranahalli have vanished over a period of time and some have even gone off the record (Source:

Bangalore’s lakes are not independent water bodies. They are a part of an intricate web connected through canals or storm water drains. For every lake in the city, one is likely to find another within a radius of two to three kilometers. When a lake gets polluted, it affects those lakes that are close to it, and from there on, is likely to have a domino effect. The storm water drains (rajakaluves) are no longer solely reserved for storm water - most of them carry sewage too. All of this goes into the lakes.

At the rate at which lakes are getting polluted and encroached, it is likely that Bangalore will one day run out of one of her most precious resources - her lakes.