Spill over

untreated effluents and domestic sewage discharged into the Ballandur lake in Bangalore heaped up as froth and spilt over to the bridge connecting the village to the Ring Road on October 22. The frothy foam of highly toxic wastes bewildered the villagers so much that they thronged the area to look at the "snow'.

Untreated domestic sewage from east, northeast and southeast Bangalore as well as industrial effluents find its way to Ballandur as the K and C Valley effluent treatment plant ( etp ), installed by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, is not functioning up to its optimum capacity of 163 million litres per day. "Only 20 per cent of the domestic and industrial effluents is being fed into the etp by the authorities,' says an agitated Ramamurthy from Bellandur panchayat .

What is really worrying is that lake has an outlet to the Dakshina Pinakini river, which flows towards Tamil Nadu. The water downstream is used for drinking purposes in Hosur and Krishnagiri districts after treatment.

There are eight sewage pipes that are being drained straight into the lake, the panchayat members allege. Besides, the stormwater drains are not separated from sewers. Hence, on days such as October 22, when the recorded rainfall was 63 mm, the area got inundated.

When the National Lake Conservation Policy was initiated in 1997, Bellandur lake was also identified for ecological restoration. "But the irrigation department has not yet handed over the lake to the forest department,' says Shantappa, district conservator of forests, Bangalore Urban Green Belt Division.

The villagers reckon that at least three-four metre sludge has been deposited on the lake bed over the years. On rainy days, the overflow leaves the entire marshlands and lake shores full of sludge.