Bellandur-Varthur lakes-silt worth crore – Bengaluru

Bellandur-Varthur lakes-silt worth crore – Bengaluru

Bellandur-varthur lakes silt is Rs.2000 crore worth.  But cash-broke Bangalore Development Authority is seeking for potential industry buyers.

Survey of Bellandur-Varthur lakes:

The government agency is citing lack of funds front restoring lakes filled with sewage water and garbage.  A study indicated a high economic value of rejuvenating the water bodies in itself to take up restoration.

A bathymetric survey and collection of water samples was conducted for Bellandur-varthur lakes. It was conducted at the Indian Institute of Science and Madras Engineering group.  Even active citizens participated. 

It was revealed that silt accumulated in Bellandur-Varthur lakes is worth Rs.2000 crore.

Bathymetri survey of Vartur lake

What is a Bathymetric survey  –  Bellandur- varthur lakes :

Bathymetric surveys allows to measure the depth of a water body as well as map the underwater features of a water body.  Multiple methods can be used for bathymetric surveys including multi-beam and single-beam surveys, ADCPs, sub-bottom profilers, and the Eco-mapper Autonomous Underwater Vehicle.

It is used for different types of research including flood inundation, contour of streams and reservoirs, leakage, scour and stabilization, water-quality studies, dam removal, biological spill, storage and fill in reservoirs and ponds.

Silt worth crores at Bellandur-varthur lakes :

The contractors charge the government for de-silting the lakes.  They silently earn a huge additional income by selling the same to a third party.  Nobody is aware of this. 

The economic value of silt in Bellandur-varthur lakes is been underestimated highly.

Silt at Bellandur lake

According to Prof. T.V.Ramachandra of IISc., ‘money earned by selling the silt of Bellandur-varthur lakes can be used for restoration of lakes’.  Bellandur- varthur lakes have silt of 6.60 million cubic metres and 3.87 million metres respectively. 

silt at Varthur lake

Bellandur-Varthur lakes silt utlisation :

According to the Professor if the silt is converted into sand, it can fetch the BDA approximately Rs.1944 crore.  If the silt is utilized by the brick industry it can fetch upto Rs.2061 crore.

conversion of silt to sand

According to the BDA sources the authority is planning to auction the silt of Bellandur-varthur lakes to take up the infrastructure works.  This work includes partial funding of the peripheral ring road or the renovation of the flyover at Hebbal.

Conclusion :

The Mineral Enterprise Limited (MEL) a mining co. will be de-silting a part of the varthur lake.  But the co. has agreed to remove the dump the silt along the lake bed. 

BDA is looking out for a place to dump the silt.   The location will be identified within a few days as there are many abandoned quarries. 

NGT Committee – Bellandur, Varthur lake

NGT Committee will visit Bellandur and Varhur lake on 17th February to oversee the revival work.  The Committee by NGT is planning to create a webpage by February.

Bellandur Lake

National Green Tribunal (NGT) :

NGT has been established in 18.10.2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010.  It was established for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection.   It also includes conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal rights relating to environment.


The Tribunal also gives relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.   It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental duties involving multi-disciplinary issues.

NGT Committee :

The NGT has newly constituted a committee headed by Justice Hegde to oversee the implementation of the directions related to lake rejuvenation. The NGT Committee has been asked to oversee the timelines and action plans prepared by the State government. 

The State Government has also been directed to transfer Rs 500 crore to an escrow account for execution of the action plans and implementation of Panjwani Committee recommendations.

Varthur lake spewing foam

The Justice Hegde Committee has been given the liberty to decide additional amounts required for setting up of STPs to treat sewage entering into the lake. The State is also made liable to pay interest for delay or non-payment. 

Justice Santosh Hegde – NGT Committee Head :

Santosh Hegde was born in an ethnic Bunt family to former judge of Supreme Court, Justice K.S. Hegde and his wife Meenakshi Hegde. 

Justice Santosh Hegde

Nitte Santosh Hegde is a former judge of the Supreme Court Of India, former Solicitor General of India and was Lokayukta for Karnataka State of India from 2006-2011. 

After completing apprenticeship training, Hegde enrolled as an advocate in January 1966 and was designated as senior advocate in May 1984. He was appointed as the Advocate General for the State of Karnataka in February 1984 and held that position till August 1988. 

NGT Committee report :

Individual members from the NGT Committee have already visited the Bellandur and Varthur lake  and have made observations. The NGT Committee also took note of the encroachments in and around these two lakes.

The NGT committee also pointed out that the rajakaluve have been encroached, narrowing of rajakaluves, laying of pipes, construction and demolishing waste dumping by Minor Irrigation Department (MID) and encroachment on the buffer zone along the Belagere road.

Slow progress – Bengaluru lakes

Slow progress of work on Bellandur lake and Varthur lake.  A committee was constituted to inspect the two water bodies to keep track of the progress.

Saving Bengaluru lakes

Bellandur lake –  slow progress of work :

Bellandur Lake is a lake in the suburb of Bellandur in the southeast of the city of Bengaluru.   It is the largest lake in Bengaluru. It was used for landing amphibious aircraft during British rule. It is a part of Bellandur drainage system that drains the southern and the south-eastern parts of the city.

Froth on road – Bellandur lake

The lake is a receptor from three chains of lakes upstream, and has a catchment area of about 148 square kilometres (37,000 acres).

Water from this lake flows further east to the Varthur lake from where it flows down the plateau and eventually into the Pinakani river basin. The cleaning is a slow progress concerning this lake.

Slow progress of work at Varthur lake :

Varthur lake is in the south of Bengaluru district.  It has a large surface area and is the main irrigation source for nearby agricultural fields.  It supports a wide variety of flora and fauna. 

view of Varthur lake

This is a man made lake, built by Ganga kings over thousands of years ago for agriculture and domestic uses but now the lake is receiving 40% of the sewage water from Bangalore for over 50 years resulting in eutrophication. Slow progress of work is noticed by the committee even here.

Committee :

An independent committee was formed to inspect the progress on lakes.  Part of the lakes where fire had occurred recently was also inspected.  Beside the inspection of fire catching place, garbage mounting place, encroachments around the lakes were also covered.

The committee panel is headed by former Lokayukta Justice N. Santosh Hegde.  The National Green Tribunal constituted the committee to study the slow progress of work.  The panel is tasked with reviewing the action plan.

Santosh Hegde

The panel expressed displeasure on the slow progress of work.  The sluice gates and sewerage treatment plants work are moving in a slow pace. 

Varthur lake fire – flora and fauna gutted

Varthur lake fire – happening again.  This is the third time the lake is catching fire in recent years.  Lakes catching fire has become a never-ending disaster in Bengaluru in recent times. 

lake on fire

The people residing near Thubarahalli extension in Varthur noticed smoke emerging from the middle of the lake.    The lake had caught fire at 3 different spots near the Balligeri inlet.  Each fire was a few meters away from the other.

Highlights – Varthur lake fire :

  • Varthur lake caught fire at three different spots.
  • The fire destroyed nearly 20 acres of land of a small island in the lake.
  • Exact reason that led to the fire has not been ascertained.

The lake caught fire at 3 different places and the fire started spreading fast.  The thick plumes of smoke was visible from 2 km away from the lake.

History of lake :

The lake is an integral part of Bengaluru,  although unplanned urbanization and industrialization have led to the contamination of this lake. Varthur Lake, which has an area of 180.40 hectares (445.8 acres) is the second largest lake in Bengaluru city and also one of the most polluted lakes.

Its ecosystem is under continuous degradation because of sewage water from Bengaluru  entering the lake from Bellandur lake further upstream.

This is a man-made lake, built by Ganga kings over thousands of years ago for agriculture and domestic uses but now the lake is receiving 40% of the sewage water from Bengaluru.   

Varthur lake fire – NGT :

A month prior to the fire Karnataka was impose a fine of Rs.50 crore by NGT  (National Green Tribunal) for neglecting 2 lakes.  One of them being Varthur lake and the other being Bellandur lake.

fire – water-lake

Impact of fire at Varthur lake :

The fire at varthur lake destroyed almost 20 acres of land of a small island in the lake. The fire incident comes at a time when migratory birds flock to the lake. The fire reportedly destroyed many nests on the islands.  

Despite the lake being already polluted with sewage, effluents, construction and demolition waste, people continue to dump garbage and debris into it.  The fire could have been triggered by the presence of chemicals in it.

The entire day, a thick cloud of smoke choked the residents 

Reasons for fire at the lake : 

The fire could have been triggered by the presence of chemicals.  The presence of “illegal migrants” near the lake can be a reason behind the fire as they segregate whatever they see of value in the waste and dump the rest into the lake.

Previous fires :

In March 2017, the lake caught fire after some people burned garbage near the lake’s inlet.

spilling of toxic foam

In January 2018, another lake in Bengaluru–the Bellandur lake–caught fire and the operation to douse it went on for over 10 hours. The Bellandur lake caught fire 11 times in 2018 alone and once in January 2019.

Varthur lake – sluice gate project

Varthur lake – froth and debris

Varthur lake sluice gate project gets a new deadline.  According to the BDA the work will be completed by April 2019.

The sluice gate project has already missed many deadlines.  

History – Varthur lake

Varthur Lake is an artificial lake, or tank, located in the Bangalore South taluk of the Bangalore District in Karnataka. This lake has played an important role in maintaining water resources for irrigation since its construction during the Ganga Empire over 1,000 years ago (Karnataka State Gazetteer, 1990).

Varthur lake

Over the centuries, the lake has developed into a complex ecosystem that provides habitat for a variety of plant and animal species.  This includes resident and migratory waterfowl.  The lake also provides the local community with a pleasant micro-climate and considerable pleasing appeal.

Inter-connection and degradation

Varthur lake is part of a system of interconnected tanks and canals that receive practically all the surface run off, waste water and sewage from Bengaluru South.  Urbanization and population expansion in Bengaluru and surrounding towns and villages have taken a brunt on many tanks.  Varthur lake is one among them.

Varthur Lake froth

Pollution has exceeded the ability to integrate contaminants.  This has lead to visible degradation of the quality of water in the lake. 

Sluice gate project – Varthur lake

The BDA has completed the installation of sluice gates in the varthur lake and are working. The 20 metres of the waste weir is yet to be completed.  BDA has set April as a deadline for the work completion.

According to the residents the contractor has not received enough funds from the authority to carryout the work, hence the delay.  The work was halted due to the construction of the new bridge adjacent to the old bridge in varthur.  This demanded diversion of water.

Present scenario

Lake bed is still filled with excess soil and debris. The minor irrigation department had dug it up to set up KC valley pipelines.  The clearance of the debris is yet to take place and restore the lake-bed.

Toxic Bengaluru: Bellandur and Varthur lakes state froth again

Toxic Bengaluru: Bellandur and Varthur lakes state froth again

The frothing began again in Bellandur lake and Varthur lake and gradually increased.  The construction work taken by BDA has slowed down because of frothing. The construction sites were inundated with water from both the lakes, thus slowing down the work.

BDA officials allegedly said that they are not aware of the frothing. An engineer from BDA said that they would ensure that the work is completed within the stipulated time and that he would personally look into the matter as far as frothing is concerned.

Varthur lake is downstream of Bellandur lake.

An MOU was signed between the members of Whitefield Rising and an agency to de-silt the lakes to improve the condition of the water body.  Now the locals are in a position to monitor constantly monitor the quality of water.  It will be a 5-year project.  According to a member of the Whitefield Rising the lake will be dried up in compartments for de-silting as wet dredging is unsuitable as well as unaffordable.

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