Lake Kebattahalli is shrinking, according to official records

Lake Kembattahalli in Thalaghattapura, which activists championed two years ago, has shrunk according to official records.

The lake has shrunk from 7.5 acres to less than 6.5 acres, according to the latest survey. Residents of Kothanur and Kembattahalli said the lake was eight acres in its heyday, but surveyors had reduced its size either accidentally or on purpose.

In 2016, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) measured the spread of the lake at eight acres, but the latest survey as of July 14, 2022 states that the body of water spans six acres and 16 guntas.

The lake straddles Kembattahalli and Kothanur in Uttarahalli hobli. This includes three encroachments: a temple (12 guntas) and two burial grounds measuring 1 acre 8 guntas and 20 guntas respectively.

But the encroachments mentioned in the July 13, 2015 survey – 19.5 route guntas and two 0.5 guntas by Anil Kumar and Venkatesh – disappeared from the records. The 2015 survey also measured temple encroachment at 4.75 guntas, which has now almost tripled.

After submitting more than 10 complaints since 2020, residents sent an email to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) detailing the official inaction and the extent of the existing encroachments. The latest survey, after an NGT order in May, was hugely disappointing for residents.

‘Handle with Care’

A senior Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) official said city officials had all but forgotten about the lake until 10 years ago. “The encroachments started a long time ago,” the official said. “Villagers who had no place to bury or cremate the dead started using some of the lake land. It has now become a sensitive subject and must be handled with care.

The problem surfaced in July when the Joint Lake Committee visited the area. Villagers spoke of their connection to the lake cemetery and urged officials not to fence off the land.

A member of the committee said that the tax authorities had agreed to provide them with an alternative land of two acres. “But the issue of existing encroachment has been left to the higher ranks. There were scenes of emotion during the committee’s visit. Reclaiming land can be difficult,” he said.

While a diversion drain has been constructed to prevent sewage from entering the lake, the KSPCB official stressed the need to monitor the storm water drainage. “A wetland type structure should be constructed to prevent organic and inorganic waste from entering the lake,” he added.