Hebbal Lake

Hebbal Lake is located in the north of Bangalore at the mouth of National Highway 7, along the junction of Bellary Road and the Outer Ring Road (ORR). It was one of the three lakes created in 1537 by Kempe Gowda. Like most lakes or "tanks" in the Bangalore region it was formed by the damming natural valley systems [K.C. Smitha Urban Governance and Bangalore Water Supply & Sewerage Board (BWSSB) [http://www.isec.ac.in/Urban%20Governance.PDF PDF] ] by the construction of "bunds". The spread of the lake in a study in 2000 was found to be 75 ha with plans for extending it to make up 143 ha.V.G.Ranjani and T.V.Ramachandra (2000) Bathymetric analysis and the characterisation of the Hebbal lake to explore restoration and management options. Lakes 2000. Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. [ Fulltext] ]


The catchment area of the lake was found to be 3750ha and this area includes the residential areas of Yeshwanthpur, Mathikere, Rajmahal Vilas Extension, Bharat Electronics Limited and Hindustan Machine Tools Limited colonies. In 1974 the lake area was 77.95 ha and in 1998 it was 57.75 ha. [Rinku Verma, S. P. Singh and K. Ganesha Raj (2003) Assessment of changes in water-hyacinth coverage of water bodies in northern part of Bangalore city using temporal remote sensing data. Current Science 84(6):795-804 [http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/mar252003/795.pdf PDF] ] Based on the rainfall of the region, the annual catchment was estimated at 15.2 million cubic metres with 3.04 million cubic metres during the Northeast Monsoon, 10.12 million cubic metres during the Southwest Monsoon and 3.28 million cubic metres in the dry season. The storage capacity of the lake was estimated in 2000 to be 2.38 million cubic metres with desilting raising it to 4.07 million cubic metres. Sewage inflow into the lake has altered the chemistry and biology of the lake. Most measured physico-chemical properties of the waters of the lake exceed the acceptable standards for sewage effluent discharge set by the Indian Standards Institute (Indian Standards: 2490, 1982). [Ramachandra TV (2001) Restoration and management strategies of wetlands in developing countries. Electronic Green Journal 15 [http://egj.lib.uidaho.edu/index.php/egj/article/view/2839/2797 Fulltext] ]


The lake is predominantly eutrophic due to the inflow of sewage. The nutrients support the profuse growth of Water Hyacinth and "Typha" in the shallow zone. The habitat is favoured by many species of water birds including large waterbirds such as the Spot-billed Pelican, Eurasian Spoonbill, Shoveller, Pintail, Garganey, Little Grebe, Coot and Spot-billed Duck. The shallow zone supports sandpipers and other waders as well as Purple Moorhens, Purple Herons and Grey Herons. [Krishna, M.B., Chakrapani, B.K. and Srinivasa, T.S. 1996. Water Birds and Wetlands of Bangalore, Karnataka State Forest Department, Bangalore.]

In the late 1990s, an ecological experiment was conducted with the introduction of "Neochetina bruchi" and "Neochetina eichhorniae" weevils from Argentina to control the growth of water hyacinth. [Singh SP. Some success stories in classical biological control in India. [http://www.apaari.org/new/images/AP_Documents/Pub_SS/ss_2004_02.pdf PDF] ]


Historically lakes in the Bangalore region were managed by the Public Works Department, but The lake was managed by Karnataka State Forest Department. The management was transferred in 2002 to the Lake Development Authority, a non-profit society started with the aim of managing lakes in the Bangalore region.

A project for lake restoration funded under the Indo-Norwegian Environment Programme at a cost of Rs. 2.7 crore (USD 700,000) led to major changes in the ecosystem. Two artificial islands were created using the soil from desilting under this project. These vegetated islands have become the roost sites of many water-birds.

Citizen protests

Water resources are of importance in urban areas and there are a wide range of uses. [Gowda K., Sridhara M.V.: Conservation of Tanks/Lakes in the Bangalore Metropolitan Area in Proceedings of the 2006 Naxos International Conference on Sustainable Management and Development of Mountainous and Island Areas. University of Crete 122-130 [http://www.orion.net.gr/act/2006/naxos_vol1.pdf PDF] ] In 2004 the LDA began a process of "public-private participaton" where private companies bid for the lakes to “develop and maintain” them for the next 15 years. A large number of lakes within Bangalore have already been drained and filled in since the 1960s. Public access to privatized lakes is restricted. This led to a major outcry from citizen groups in The lakes at Hebbal, Nagawara and Vengaiahnakere have already been leased for 15 years to East India Hotels Ltd., Lumbini Developers and ParC Ltd. respectively.

The LDA leased out Hebbal Lake, one of the largest lakes in Bangalore, to East India Hotels for a period of 15 years for an annual lease amount of Rs. 72, 10, 000 and an annual escalation of 1.5% in the amount, under the Public-Private-Partnership policy. There is to be an investment of Rs 16.75 crore under the expression of interest policy of the Lake development authority. The development of the Hebbal lake is to be done to be undertaken by the East India Hotels which is the owner of the world renowned hospiltaity group, The Oberoi for 15 years. The development will include a children park, medical care centre, arch bridges, boating jetty and a handicraft and curio gift centre. The private management includes setting up of commercial enterprises in the lake and charging an entry fee. Even before the scheme of the LDA, "desilting of the Hebbal Lake took place two years ago (2003) with an investment of Rs 2.7 crore. Yet three-fourths of the lake is covered with weeds, grass, and water hyacinth." said B K Singh, Chief Executive Officer, LDA. He further added, this development will not only increase the recreation options for the people but also encourage eco-tourism, support bio-diversity, recharge ground water and help us maintain eco-balance. This massive project to develop these lakes may bring back the aquatic sanctity to urban Bangalore.

The primary legal violation relates to land use. The various memoranda of agreement signed between the LDA and the private companies for the Hebbal and Nagawara Lakes allow for the conversion of the lakes and its surroundings into recreational spots that include food courts and restaurants. A senior official of the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) told The Hindu that its permission had not been sought by the LDA for change in land use. The BDA has stated that the new zonal regulations in the Bangalore Comprehensive Development Plan 2015 allow for some recreational activities on lakes, but not restaurants and gift stores.

In Intellectuals Forum v. State of Andhra Pradesh judgement of the Supreme Court of India (C A No. 1251/2006), states “the tank is a communal property and the State authorities are trustees to hold and manage such properties for the benefit of the community and they cannot be allowed to commit any act or omission which will infringe the right of the community and alienate the property to any other person or body”. 'The scheme in respect of Bangalore’s lakes represent a clear contempt of court,’ said Leo Saldanha of the Environment Support Group. According to Rohan D’Souza of the environmental group Hasiru Usiru, the LDA, by charging an entry fee and fencing the lake, is cutting out large groups of people who have traditionally depended on the lake for their livelihood. Further, the Karnataka Fisheries Department had been asked not to renew the contracts with fishermen at Hebbal Lake. This is a violation of the PPP agreement itself, which clearly states that it will “respect traditional rights” of the users, according to Mr. D’Souza.

Ecologically, the privatisation of lakes also poses dire consequences for the bio-diversity of these lakes. The construction of structures around the lake will further alienate the migratory nesting birds and destruction of wetlands through these will ensure the dying out of the various flora and fauna. Excess activity on the shores of the lakes, due to all the planned recreational facilities, is bound to scare away the birds from the shoreline. When lakes are emptied for rejuvenation or for, as in this context, the building of a restaurant in the centre and then refilled again, it reportedly takes approximately 20 years for its bio-diversity to re-emerge.


External links

* [http://www.ldakarnataka.co.in/hebbal.htm LDA]
* [http://www.doccentre.net/docsweb/Rohan_final_report_lakes_privatisation.php Impact of privatization]

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