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Lakes of Bengaluru: This 1,200-year-old lake is an ideal example of neglect | Bangalore News


Located in Bengaluru North, the Hebbal lake spreads over 143 acre and is one of the largest lakes in the city. According to stone inscriptions, it is estimated that the lake was constructed more than 1,200 years ago.

The founder of citizens group Inscriptions Stones of Bangalore, Udaya Kumar, said in close proximity to the Hebbal veeragallu (hero stone commemorating the death of a soldier in a battlefield) in Bhoopasandra, in the vicinity of the Hebbal lake, lies an 8th century Durga idol with a fragmented Kannada inscription.

“The idol was discovered and rescued from destruction when the Outer Ring Road was being built in the late 1990s. Durga idols are commonly installed and worshipped alongside water bodies. The inscription refers to wetland farmers, suggesting that the Hebbal Lake may have existed at least 1,200 years ago,” he said.

lakes of bengaluru The water of the Hebbal Lake had earlier been used for drinking purposes. (Express photo by Jithendra M)

The Hebbal Lake receives water inflow from its catchments that covers localities of Yeshwanthpur, Mathikere, RMV, BEL and HMT colonies, Nagavara, Narsipura and other layouts.

The water of the Hebbal Lake had earlier been used for drinking purposes. Due to the change in the urban setup and the piped water supply by Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), the lake was later not used for drinking water purposes.

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Despite the lake’s restoration in 2002, untreated sewage continued to enter the lake. Two years down the line in 2004, the lake was filled with weeds. The lake was used as a place to bathe cattle and immerse idols.

bengaluru lake The lake was used as a place to bathe cattle and immerse idols. (Express photo by Jithendra M)

Along with the Indo-Norwegian Environment programme, the Karnataka forest department restored the Hebbal Lake in 2002. However, due to paucity of funds, the government could not maintain the lakes and decided to lease out the waterbodies to private hotels.

The state administration came under intense criticism after the now defunct Lake Development Authority started leasing out lakes to private hotels. In 2004, the Nagawara Lake was leased to Lumbini Garden Pvt ltd. In 2006, Hebbal Lake was leased out to East India Hotels for 15 years.

In April 2008, NGO Environment Support Group (ESG) filed a PIL against the privatisation of lakes in the Karnataka High Court. In November 2008, the High Court passed an interim order restraining the government and private parties from proceeding with any further investment or development of lakes based on the privatisation (PPP) model.

hebbal lake bengaluru In 2006, Hebbal Lake was leased out to East India Hotels for 15 years. (Express photo by Jithendra M)

The court gave two weeks to the state government to file a comprehensive plan for the protection of lakes and gardens.

The lease given to East India Hotels expired in 2021 and then the custody of the lake was handed over to the Forest department. However, again due to paucity of funds, the department could not maintain the lakes.

In November 2023, the custody of Hebbal Lake was transferred to the civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

hebbal lake bengaluru The lease given to East India Hotels expired in 2021 and then the custody of the lake was handed over to the Forest department. (Express photo by Jithendra M)

A senior official of the Forest department said, “We could have maintained the lake much better than the BBMP. We were short of funds and this was brought to the notice of the government. The restoration of lakes is not limited to engineering solutions but it requires the understanding of biodiversity conservation which the civic agency lacks. Soon, the Madiwala Lake will also be transferred to the BBMP. We just needed more guards to protect the lake.”





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