Going by photographs of some lakes in Bengaluru, one could have been alarmed to notice snow spilling onto the streets. But it does not snow in the city, and the lakes do not frost over.
The lakes – Bellandur, Varthur, and Yemalur lakes – looked like giant pools of foam, even as civic authorities passed the blame on to each other.
Chairperson of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) Vaman Acharya said that it was the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) which is responsible for both water supply as well treatment.
The BWSSB, meanwhile, has said that the KSPCB must identify the polluter and issue them notices.
However, officials of both departments insist that the foaming was due to detergents which were discharged by households and had flown untreated into the lake.
Studies conducted by the Indian Institute for Science show that Varthur lake – the second largest in the city – is eutrophic, meaning that it has high concentrations of nutrients which stimulate excessive plant growth.One study, titled Status of Varthur Lake: Opportunities for Restoration and Sustainable Management also found the presence of the E coli bacteria in some parts of the lake, and that it was contaminated with fecal matter. It also found that local people rely on the lake heavily for irrigation and cattle fodder.
Although the study said that no ground water samples were contaminated, it recommended further studies.
City in-charge minister Ramalinga Reddy has said the Bangalore Development Authority – which has ownership of most lakes in the city – has already initiated talks with NGOs for lake development projects.
A multi-agency approach has been planned to resolve the problem of foaming of these lakes, said Reddy.
The government also proposed not just to de-silt the lakes, but also to work out ways to use the recovered material for other productive purposes.