By Meera Bhardwaj:

With many lakes and tanks restored in the IT hub of Bengaluru, these wetlands have seen the arrival of many bird species including migratory visitors. However, some of the restored lakes like the Doddakallasandra Lake in Bengaluru South is facing the issue of inflow of untreated sewage into the wetlands. 

Local residents say this defeats the very purpose of the Lake restoration which was done at a cost of Rs 4.4 crore last July. However, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike (BBMP) authorities say with the restoration work complete, the Lake has seen the return of birds while the problem of sewage inflow has happened due to dumping and excessive rains.

A visit to the Doddakallasandra Lake by Green Minute reveals the presence of a diverse flora and fauna over a large verdant expanse. This is a waterbody which is surrounded on the norther side by Prestige Falcon City and Sri Kumaran Children’s Academy, Narayan Nagar on the Western side and MKS Layout on the Southern side and a few apartment complexes on the Eastern side. 

However, the place is very serene and quiet and one can hear only the chirping and calls of various bird species. Very few people can be seen walking on the pathways and fortunately, there are no playing area or gym facilities or sit outs for walkers in this lake. “Human voices would have disturbed the resident birds and migrants. We come here to walk and don’t need any seating facilities,” say a couple from Falcon City.

Even as we enter the well fenced and marked lake boundary through a small gate, the calls of the water birds are vociferous. The shallow waters on one side with its aquatic vegetation is so full of waders and its chicks that one is completely surprised at the breeding activity. 

The list of Water birds is pretty long – Little Grebe, Eurasian Coot, Pond Herons, Gray Herons, Purple Swamphen, Spot Billed Duck, Red Wattled Lapwing, Cormorants, etc. Most of them are busy rearing their chicks and it is a beautiful sight to see the chicks trailing the mother birds. 

If Spot Billed ducks with juveniles and adults can be seen resting on the low height bund of the lake, the Purple Swamphen can be seen flitting from end to another chasing food. 

In some parts of the Lake, one can observe many families of birds hiding in between reeds of the aquatic plants – quietly feeding their chicks. 

The colorful rufous necked Little Grebe is seen widely with its family all over the Lake and this is a sight to be treasured. 

Added to this, one can observe Eurasian Coot quietly diving its head inside the Lake for food and funnily, many times, one sees a big ball of black body visible on the surface.

In fact, it is a pleasure to see many species diving into the marshy lake now and then for food. 

Further, two different species can be seen fighting for space and driving away the other with their raucous calls. 

Apart from the water birds, predators like Black Kites and Brahminy Kites are either frequently seen flying or sitting watchfully on the lake island.

It is the Indian Cormorants on the islands who sit for a long time to give beautiful poses for eager photographers to take a peek at this beautiful bird. 

With hundreds of tree species dotting the Doddakallasandra Lake, many species like oriental darters, Kingfishers, Barbets, parakeets, bulbuls, barn swallow, peafowl, flower peckers, cinerous tit, common tailor bird, Black Drongo, golden oriole, Brown Shrike, Wagtails and of course, Egrets have been recorded in this Lake. 

The Lake is spread over 21.16 acres across Konankunte near Kanakpura Road. As per a Biodiversity Report by NGO Action Aid, the Doddakallasandra Lake is home to more than 70 bird species, 37 butterfly species and many tree and flowering species. 

Recently, some 30 shallow water bird species were recorded by the members of the Doddakallasandra Lake Protection Committee. 

Meanwhile, the Doddakallasandra Lake Protection Committee (DLPC) have appealed to BBMP authorities to take action before the Lake becomes inundated with sewage effluents. The DLPC has sought a long-term solution from the BBMP commissioner. “Sewage diversion channel seems to be blocked often and hampering the flow.”

There is need for installation of a sewage treatment plant (STP) to address the issue of sewage inflow into the lake, says Raghavendra B Pachhapur. 

Although complaint has been filed to relevant authorities on the blockage in Sewage Diversion Channel, there has been no redressal. Pachhapur adds, “A newly rejuvenated Lake facing basic issues is not good news. Without addressing basic issues, rejuvenation is a waste of time, labor and public money. Monitoring consultants and engineers should be held accountable.”

Further, the Narayan Nagar Resident Welfare Association had requested the BBMP to install a STP at the time of restoration of the lake but alas! all requests fell on deaf ears. Soundararajan states, “BBMP should plan for STP installation since the Lake has two sources of Rajakaluve. The sewage inflow should be stopped before it is too late.”

Speaking to Green Minute, BBMP Executive Engineer (Lakes) Shivalingappa said, “Restoration work has been completed, however, there are no plans for setting up of a STP. The blockage in the Sewage Diversion Channel is being addressed as it gets often blocked due to dumping of dung, plastics and other solid materials. Further, weeds are being cleared periodically, however, hyacinth plant grows very fast and any amount of clearance, it comes again.”

Despite the recurrence of water quality issues, residents say it is a wonder that many birds have come calling to the Lake and are busy building their nests and rearing their young ones. And if all the pollution problem is resolved soon, it may not be surprising if the Lake becomes a paradise for birds in the coming days, they reiterate.