Another article on Banagalore’s shocking decline.
It is a pity that most people still talk of the city in terms of youth , silicon valley, start-ups and so on. There is hardly any discussion over such decline of a city which is responsible for changing India’s image. The city has paid a huge price for this change of India image:
Where do you begin to tell the story of a thousand deaths? Should you begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end, and then stop? Perhaps. But the story of the lakes in Bengaluru would hardly lend itself to a linear narrative.
Earlier this month, the Ulsoor lake — famed for its gorgeous sunsets sliding behind a tiny island, boat rides set off against the champagne skies and a popular refuge from the sweltering summer days — saw its first fish-kill of the year. Hundreds of dead fish washed up on the shores, raising a mighty stench for passers-by and the dozens of plush lake-view apartments in the vicinity.
The news and pictures got a few column inches in the papers and a bit of airtime, but not for longer than a day. Eutrophication was old news even a decade ago.
The once quiet, sleepy town of Bengaluru had under its belt several sobriquets like the ‘garden city’ and the ‘city of lakes’ (the nearly 300 that came into being along with the city in the 16th century). The jacaranda and tabebuia trees that line the roads and parks in nearly every neighbourhood — however ill-maintained — still somewhat justify the first sobriquet. But the city grew into the gargantuan it is today by swallowing many of its lakes and spitting out a tragedy over several decades now.
The city which had plenty of water some years ago has none left:
Pegging the health of lakes as a much more vital issue than road congestion, which gets inordinate attention and thus funds, Saldanha says investment in road development was aimed at the elite, much to the detriment of lakes. “Any farmer will tell you that water needs to flow on soil, not on concrete. Break the concrete lining of raja-kaluves and plant shrubs along the edges,” he adds.
Calling the state of lakes a “ticking bomb waiting to explode in our faces”, Saldanha despairs that the government has not displayed the nerve to act against encroachments. “Some predict that by 2025 we won’t have any water left in the city. We already don’t have any. What we have in Bengaluru is what we are stealing from Ramanagara, Channapatna, Mandya, and so on,” he points out.
But who cares? Most people do not even know how bad things have become in India’s cities especially Bangalore…