Bengaluru Lakes may soon lose its Unique Bird Species Cover for disregarding the 2008 Karnataka High Court orders on rejuvenation.

The ongoing Rejuvenation Works in numerous lakes and tanks in Bengaluru has hit the nadir with BBMP engineers and concerned lake authorities not following the recommendations and guidelines given by Justice N K Patil Committee on preservation and conservation of lakes in Bengaluru.

Shallow Waters in these lakes attracts thousands of birds for foraging, feeding, nesting, and breeding. However, this is being decimated gradually due to unscientifically planned rejuvenation projects.

In fact, the lakes may soon witness the disappearance of many native and migrant bird species. When will BBMP realize shallow waters are very necessary for biodiversity recharge and winged visitors to come calling when water levels go down?

GREEN MINUTE visited one such lake in the city – Doddakallasandra Lake in Narayana Nagar near Kanakpura Road that is a rich breeding ground for many bird species. The sight of Painted Storks has brought cheers to the ongoing efforts of activists who are petitioning the authorities to desist from such unscientific works.

Further, as per the Biodiversity Report of this Lake – it hosts 7l bird species of which a few are migratory while two species are considered nearly extinct under the IUCN list. Presently, world across, there is a noticeable increase in species extinction rates as per IPBES Global Assessment report, 2019.

Apart from this, the Doddakallasandra Lake is home to 354 trees belonging to 42 species, 43 species of plants and shrubs, and 37 species of different kinds of butterflies.

On our visit, a lot of bird species were seen and recorded – Painted Storks, peacocks, oriental darters, little and great cormorants, gray, purple and night herons, little grebe, purple swamphens, and of course, whistling ducks and many more.

As per lake conservationists, with no shallow waters in the fore shore area, the lake would soon lose out on supporting 70 percent of Bird Diversity.  As per  recommendations of Justice NK Patil Committee, effective lake area should not be reduced by converting it into parks, children’s play area, widened bunds, etc.

Desilting must be minimized by removing only the sludge portion with minimum depth near foreshore and reaching maximum depth near the bundh. The present saucer shaped desilting is not only expensive but also leads to huge bundh making and creating storage capacity beyond our needs.

The present Saucer-shaped deepening of the Lakebed in Doddakallasandra will impact wetland formation in the Foreshore Region of the Lake. This is essential for filtering of water that enters the lake and from an ecological viewpoint.

The lake bed should be deepest near the bund and gently slope upwards towards the foreshore. Desilting from lakebed margins towards bund region has been done inappropriately in the northern finger foreshore – it is almost flatbed with same values, so needs course correction at this junction.

Raghavendra Pachhapur, Programme Manager, Action Aid Association said, “We can reduce the speed and contribute to growth by small initiations as suggested in the Justice NK Patil Committee Report.”

The Doddakallasandra Lakebed Assessment report with its Finding and Recommendations has been submitted to custodians of lakes in Bengaluru after a discussion with the Chief Engineer-BBMP Lakes. A copy has been submitted to Chief Executive-Karnataka Tank Conservation Development Authority, Chairperson-Biodiversity Management committee and Chairperson-Karnataka Biodiversity Board. But till date, no action has been taken.

Pachhapur adds, “We hope authorities will re-assess the lakebed as per the suggestions of Justice N K Patil Committee guidelines and do the course correction and set the bench mark for restoration and make Doddakallasandra Lake a model for Ecological restoration in Bengaluru.”

The authorities should send a technical team or concerned ecological experts must visit Doddakallasandra Lake for re-assessment of the Lake Bed as per recommendations of the Patil committee, activists appeal.

With pre-monsoon showers lashing the city, another glaring example of utter neglect by BBMP lake authorities is – plastic waste and trash can be seen, strewn in many lakes of Bengaluru including the restored lakes of Doddakallasandra and Chunchaghatta.

Despite lakes being under maintenance contracts, inlets and diversion channels are in a dismal state with the monsoons converting the city’s wetlands into trash lands and worsening the water quality.