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CENTRAL POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD

Zonal Office (South)


Nisarga Bhavan, Thimmaiah Road
Shivanagar, Bengaluru - 560 010
Report On Bellandur Lake; from froth to fire
1.0

Introduction
Bellandur Lake is an old and major tank located in eastern part of Bengaluru city at

latitude of 1258 N and longitude of 7735 E & altitude of 921 m above mean sea level. It
is the largest lake spread across an area around 892 acres with water storing capacity of
around 17.66 million cubic feet. The total catchment area of the lake is 287.33 Sq. KM and
independent catchment area of 14 - 48 Sq. KM and the annual rainfall in the catchment area
is around 32 inches. The natural topography of the catchment slopes towards Bellandur Lake,
thus any storm water runoff eventually makes its way into the lake. The length, width and
mean depth of the lake is around 3.6 KM, 1.4KM and 2.1 M respectively.

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This tank is a receptor from three chains of tanks. One chain, originates in the north, from
Jayamahal, covers the eastern portion and has been referred to as the eastern stream. Another
chain originates from the central part of the city, from the K.R.Market area and covers the
central portion and is called the central stream. The other chain, that reaches the tank is
through the south-western region and is called the western stream. Water from Bellandur tank
flows to Varthur tank which is situated at 7 KM in the downstream and eventually joins the
Dakshina Pinakini river basin, which flows towards Tamil Nadu. The water in downstream is

used for drinking purposes in Hosur and Krishnagiri districts after treatment.

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2.0

Environmental Status of Bellandur lake catchment

Many villages like Haralur, Aambalapura, Kudlu, Balagere, Hanathuru, Devara bisanahalli,
Kadu bisanahalli, Nagasandra, Kempapura, and Belur etc. are surrounding the lake. Due to
the rampant unplanned developmental activities in these areas the lake is subjected to
extreme environmental stress. Due to natural drainage, both storm water and sewerage water
flows into lake from the catchment area.

The drinking water is supplied to Bengaluru from Cauvery River and the wastewater is
collected through three important drainage basins, Hebbal valley, Vrishabhavathi and
Koramangala and Challaghatta valley (K&C valley). The K & C valley essentially comprises
the northern and eastern part of the Bellandur Lake catchment. The sewage generation in
Bengaluru is more than 1000MLD while the existing treatment capacity is around 721MLD.
Due to inadequate sewage treatment capacities, the untreated raw sewage ends up in the
storm water drains and eventually drains to the natural water bodies. Accordingly, the
Bellandur Lake is also subjected to the untreated wastewater. The estimated capacity of the
treatment plant at the K & C valley is about 248 MLD, while the raw sewage flow into the
lake is about 400+MLD.
Most of the STPs in this catchment area does not have tertiary treatment facilities, hence the
inorganic pollutants like NPK, may get into the lake from the treated water. Partial treatment
of wastewater, insufficient capacity of STP, mismanagement of municipal solid waste, loss of
drainage network due to encroachments and unplanned developmental activities in catchment
area are likely to have degraded the quality of Bellandur Lake.

Figure: Wastewater stress in Bengaluru

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Further, the municipal waste (garbage), poultry farm wastes, discards from garment factories,
building demolition wastes are dumped on the shoreline of Bellandur Lake from quite long
time. Due to urban sprawl, there is little vegetation cover existing around the lake.
Conversion of watershed area of the lake to residential layouts has altered the hydrological
regime. This has impaired the sustained water yield in the catchment apart from lowering
ground water recharge and enhancing silt movement in the catchment.

The various state government departments that are responsible for the management of
Bellandur tank are as follows:

Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) - in whose jurisdictional area the tank
is located and is responsible for the maintenance of the storm water drains leading to
the tank.

Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) - which regulates the
flow of sewerage into the tank and responsible agency for collection and treatment of
sewage in Bangalore city.

Karnataka State Pollution Control Board - i s r esponsible for monitoring and


controlling o f pollution i n the tank and enforcement of related Rules & Regulations.

Fisheries Department is the regulated agency for fishing activities in the tank.

Minor Irrigations Department- is having the ownership of the tank.

Lake Development Authority (LDA), which is the body entrusted with maintaining
tanks in Bangalore.

Apart from these bodies, until, February 2007, when Greater Bangalore came into existence,
the Panchayat of Bellandur as well as the CMC of Mahadevapura had jurisdiction over the
areas adjoining the tank.

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3.0

Bellandur Lake: From froth to fire

The froth in the Bellandur Amani Lake, near M/s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)
caught fire on Friday late night, May 15, 2015. Yellowish flames emerged out of the white
bubbly froth that had covered the lake from past four to six weeks. This was the first incident
of its type in the city and the people in the vicinity and passers-by were in a state of panic.
Local media noticed the incident and reported to local bodies about the issue.

It is reported that the locals felt a strange burning sensation near the lake. Initially, the fire
started as luminous red patches over the surface of the water but later a raging fire from
beneath the froth started spreading in all the froth filled areas.

Though the actual cause of fire is unclear but is speculated that it could have happened
mainly due to following factors:

Increasing discharge of untreated wastewater containing abnormal quantity of


phosphorus, oil & grease, chemicals from detergents & cleaners etc. over a long
period and its settlement as sediment. The chemicals might have accumulated in one
place leading to methane build-up (highly combustible gas) that might have been
ignited naturally or by leftover of a cigarrete etc. thrown into the lake unintentionally
have caused the fire.

Recently, there were heavy rains and the sudden rush of storm water causing churning
action in the lake. Due to turbulence, the lake sediments might have been disturbed
and raised upwards to the surface of the lake. Since de-silting operations have not
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been carried out from long time, the accumulated sediments in combination with froth
may have formed a reactive combustible mixture on the surface. A small spark
somewhere on this surface area might have caught fire and spreaded in the lake. The
black particles visible on the froth may supposedly be lake sediments.

Oil & grease from industries, sewage, and garbage might have accumulated in sewer
lines and in some parts of lake. Due to heavy rains, the oil & grease that has built up
in the sewer lines. etc., have been flushed to the surface of the lake. Oil & grease and
other organic compounds contribute to foam formation. Oil & grease floating on the
surface might have ignited due to various factors that may have led to fire.

The breakage of chains feeding the lake, unchecked industrial, residential &
commercial development has resulted in insufficient rainwater reaching the tank
coupled with excess sewage and effluents discharge into the lakes has indirectly lead
to fire.

4.0

Conclusions and Recommendations

Though occurrence of fire on Bellandur Lake has made news throughout the country in the
last two days, but it is supposed that the pollution problems are prevailing in the lake since
long time. Under National Lake Conservation Programme, MoEF has granted funds for
restoration of Bellandur Lake by bio remediation. The officials from CPCB and KSPCB
visited the site on Saturday, 16th May, 2015. It is also desired that all possible precautionary
and preventive measures should be taken by respective government departments and other
stakeholders, public and voluntary organizations to see that these types of incidents do not
occur in future. Based on the investigations conducted, immediate measures are also
suggested.

Immediate Action
A committee comprising of CiSTUP-IISc, Central Pollution Control Board, Karnataka State
Pollution Control Board, Lake Development Authority, Bengaluru Water Supply and
Sewerage Board, BDA and BBMP and other expertise agencies shall be constituted to

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identify all possible causes and adverse effects of the fire accident. All possible
environmental friendly measures to be taken for eviction of foam.

Dr. T. V. Ramachandra, Expert on lakes, CiSTUP, IISc, Bengaluru shall be requested to


carry out a detailed study about status of Bellandur Lake and remedial measures for
restoration of Bellandur Lake and submit the report within a month.

A series of public campaigning needs to be taken up among locals to rebuild their confidence
about the steps taken by Government to abate the pollution issues in Varthur-Bellandur area.

In addition to the above, certain short-term and long-term plans are also recommended to
eliminate the possible causes for persistence of these problems.

A. Short-term plans:

The state Government shall be directed ;


o To take up lake restoration based on lake series/ sub-series and not in
isolation.
o To restore Bellandur Lake by adopting in situ measures such as de-weeding,
bioremediation, aeration, bio-manipulation, nutrient reduction, withdrawal of
anoxic hypolimnion or constructed wetland approach.
o To earmark the boundary of the lake, and establish bunds along the periphery
of the lake by growing endemic trees and shrubs.
o To instruct the concerned agency to identify all sewage inlet points, divert the
sewage entering Bellandur Lake to the STP for treatment. The entire
catchment area needs to be connected with proper sewerage network.
o To install silt traps & biological treatment, develop green belt to prevent silt
deposition.
o To restrict human interventions by strengthening of bund, lake fencing,
shoreline development etc.
o To earmark particular area in the lake for immersion of idols and exhibit sign
boards.
o To propagate the utilization of treated sewage for industrial or other domestic
activities and avoid discharging into lakes
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o To explore the techno-economic feasibility solutions for removal of


phosphorus, nitrates causing eutrophication with environmentally methods

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) shall be directed ;


o To immediately stop the discharge of untreated sewage from the apartments in
the surrounding area. Further, KSPCB shall ensure that all apartments with
more than 50 units shall treat the sewage in their own STPs and reuse the
treated sewage within its premises.
o To ensure that apartments with less than 50 units to compulsorily connect to
UGD system and not to discharge directly into lake at any cost.
o To penalise the offenders with heavy fines , those who are discharging
untreated effluents into lakes or STPS having by pass arrangements
o To conduct surprise inspection of all residential & office complexes, industrial
units and all other such units to ensure their effluents are connected to UGD
and taken to STP for adequate treatment.
o To cross- verify the adequacy of STPs existing in the catchment area by
forming watch dog committee involving local public and voluntary
organisations. This drive should be given wide publicity in public media
o To increase the frequency of monitoring and analysing related parameters and
correlating with the standards. The data should be analysed in scientific
manner and root cause analysis should be done to know the reason for not
meeting the standards and appropriate measures shall be taken
o To upload entire monitoring data of Bellandur Lake in KSPCB website and
inform the public about the progress made in achieving the improvement for
better quality.
o To invite public opinion to provide for innovative ideas for rejuvenation and
restoration of Bellandur lake in an environmental friendly manner.
o To involve R & D institutions to conduct various studies on lake to come out
with exact vision for overall improvement.
o To adopt similar strategy for remaining lakes in the state.

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B. Long-term plans

The State Government shall be instructed


o To provide integrated sewage network system for entire Bengaluru
metropolitan area to be addressed by BWSSB on top priority.
o To create proper funding mechanism for development and rejuvenation of all
lakes with support of all stake holders.
o To protect the interest of traditional users of the lakes such as washer men,
fishermen etc., and make the lake more public friendly and also to make
efforts to conserve heritage of the lake & land.
o To monitor the deterioration in the quality of water and discharges and to
maintain the wetlands as per Conservation and Management of Wetlands
Rules under the provisions of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and the
wetlands (Management & Conservation) Rules, 2010.
o To expedite the construction of STP of adequate capacity at Bellandur lake.
o To assign development and maintenance of lakes to a single agency like Lake
Development Authority (LDA). The activities like execution, enforcement,
monitoring etc., of all urban lakes shall be entrusted to LDA.
o

To undertake Catchment area treatment which may include afforestation,


storm water drainage, silt traps etc.

o To direct concerned agency to ensure tertiary treatment of sewage before


discharge into lakes
o To prepare an Action Plan and to devise suitable policy for rejuvenation of
Bellandur Lake involving all stake holders.
o To inform the public about the development made towards the compliance of
all above points in Government of Karnataka website
o To conduct the mass balance study comprising of all limnological factors of
the lake to assess the exact status of the quality of water and accordingly make
efforts to maintain proper mass balance of the ecosystem.

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Figure 1: Bellandur Catchment and drainage area


Bellandur catchment extends from 12050N to 130147N in latitude and 7703314 E to
770411E in longitude with an area of 171.17 km2. . The Bellandur Lake itself encompasses
an area of 338.29 hectares.

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Figure 2: Population density in Bellandur catchment area

Population density in the Bellandur catchment has shown a sharp increase from 100 persons
per hectare (2001) to over 141.96 (2011) and 750 persons per hectare (in 2011) in certain
wards, mainly due to migration.

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