Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Is Upper Lake awaiting Lake Ulsoor's fate

Known as “the Silicon Valley of India” or the IT capital of the ountry, Bangalore, now Bengaluru, has had a fairy tale rise in the urbanscape of India. Demographically it has bulged or bloated over the last few decades and simultaneously it has had unremitting hunger for hosting a huge number of techies so much so that it has the largest number of them per square metre.  Despite having become an international destination and virtually a global city its civic apathy is to be seen to be believed.

Once upon a time Bangalore used to be clubbed with Dehra Doon and Poona (now Pune) as idyllic retirement destinations after a lifetime of supposedly back-breaking jobs under the colonial government. Soon after independence Bangalore, then of salubrious climes and dotted with picturesque water bodies, became the chosen one for development of industries. Hindustan Machine Tools, popularly known as HMT, was perhaps the first to be located there. With that, however, was sounded the death knell of Bangalore’s salubruity and other attendant distinctions. Over the following decades numerous industries were located within its precincts with consequential upward swing in its demographics. That took a heavy toll of its green ambiance and water bodies that were, encroached upon, built over, filled up or, at best, neglected by the people and the municipality. At the last count there were only 17 of them as against 51 that used to exist decades ago and beautify the city.

Ulsoor is one of them that has survived the human onslaught. If one
looked at its pictures one would get the feel of serenity, tranquility and, of course, beauty. Lately, however, it has become another victim, like numerous others, of the city’s civic apathy. Thousands of lifeless fish, big and small, landed up on its shores the other day for the simple reason that leaks in sewers had been emptying sewage into it depriving the fish of life-giving oxygen.

That sewers emptying into the water bodies is not something with which we in Bhopal are not unfamiliar. Our own Upper Lake is still receiving sewage from a number of drains despite several projects to stop this inflow. Multi-crore almost ten-year long international project that ran from 1994- 2004 funded by Japan like the Bhoj Wetland Project could not stop it. While we the citizens are being supplied water from the Lake generously mixed with sewage we also are being taxed for the interests to be paid for the soft loan that the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation provided. Such double whammies are the ironies that are inflicted on the citizens without batting an eyelid by those who are in authority. The municipality shamelessly spends tax-payers’ money for beautification of the Lake in a bid to, ill-advisedly and unwisely, invite more and more visitors forgetting that it would help the citizens enormously if it plugged the flow of sewage into it.

Probably that day is not far off when fishes are washed up on the Upper Lake shores or are seen floating on its blue surface lifelessly. Perhaps, only then the municipality would wake up as that would hit its ill-gotten revenues from so-called tourism with visitors shunning the Lake. We have already had an experience of such an incident when large numbers of dead fish were noticed floating in front of the Benazir Palace in one of the heritage ponds known as Motia Talaab.

One therefore wonders whether one should vicariously feel happy at the Silicon Valley of India getting a taste of Bhopal!

*Photos from internet
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DISAPPEARING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION Rama Chandra Guha, free-thinker, author and historian Ram Chandra Guha, a free-thinker, author and...