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Project K-100: re-visioning of Koramangala valley drainage system

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Urban Development
Whereas having a storm-water drain (SWD) adjoining your property should normally be a welcome proposition, it is not quite so in Bengaluru (and perhaps in most Indian cities), since it is largely raw sewage that is flowing in them. And, it gets worse, with their poor engineering causing overflows, more so in recent times with the intense rainfalls we are experiencing, due to climate change (as climatologists would say).
 
The Koramangala valley drain (which supposedly originates in Chikka Lalbag - near Majestic - and flows into Bellandur lake) is, in this respect, the bane of a large part of Koramangala - more specifically, National Games Village, Ejipura, S T Bed layout, Nirguna Mandir layout, etc. 
 
A PIL filed against a large development proposed on the Bellandur flood-plains, caused to draw the attention of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to the SWD too. Eventually, with the NGT ordering de-concretising the whole length of the SWD, the "powers-that-be" got to talking to the eminent city architect, Naresh Narasimhan, some amongst them perhaps having come across one of his talks on the Seoul example of rejuvenating a river passing through the centre of the city, after demolishing the fly-over that had been built over it earlier.
 
The citizens got a first hint of it all when Bangalore Mirror published an article (accessible here) on 17th Aug. Realising that such a massive project (cost-wise too) would require the buy-in from all stake-holders concerned, Naresh seems to have teamed up with the renowned theatre personality, Sri Prakash Belawadi, who is besides Director, Environment Committee, Rotary Dist 3190, to 'sell' the idea. 
 
The first of the "webinars" (accessible here - it's a 2hr video) in this connection, largely to introduce the concept, was held on 4th Oct, and the participants' list (see below) will give an indication of the interest shown by varied sections of the society.  
 
Shri Naresh Narasimhan, Urban Designer
Shri Leo Saldanha, Environment Support Group
Prof TV Ramachandra, Indian Institute of Science
Dr Yellappa Reddy, Bangalore Environment Trust
Prof Mohan Kumar, Indian Institute of Science
Shri K C Subhash Chandra, Hydro Geologist
Shri V S Prakash, Karnataka Lake Conservation & Dev. Authority
Shri Vishwanath, Water Expert, Biome
Dr A Ravindra, Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Karnataka
Shri Suresh Hari, CREDAI, Karnataka
Also, the entire team from Rotary District 3190 led by Governor, Rtn Nagendra Prasad
 
Participant Organisations:
Namami Vrishabhavati
Bangalore Environment Trust 
and other stake holders.
 
A second webinar to present the concept plan (accessible here - again a 2hr video) was held on 11th Oct, which had participation from the following (in addition to most of the participants from the earlier webinar):
 
Dr Shubha Avinash, Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre
Shri B S Prahallad, Chief Engineer, Road Infra & SWD, BBMP
Shri Syed Khaja, SEO, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board
Shri B C Gangadhara, Chief Engineer, WWM, BWSSB
Shri Vishwanath, Water Expert, Biome
Dr Udai Singh, IFS
Dr Veena Srinivasan, Senior Fellow, ATREE
 
Special Invitees:
Shri K Jairaj, IAS (Rtd)
Shri Thippeswamy, Former Chief Engineer, BWSSB
 
At the end of the webinar, I commented more or less as below, in the chat box:
 
Fantastic envisioning of the Koramangala valley drainage plan in your K-100 presentation. Best part is the buy in you have managed from as varied stake-holder groups as Rotary, ESG, IISc, KSPCB, BWSSB, experts from among retired bureaucracy etc. All the best.
 
More webinars going into the detaling are to follow. Perhaps, it was in this connection that both the BWSSB chief, as well as the Chief Secretary, GoK, made their visits to the area recently. 
 
PS:
1) I propose to be tracking the developments and posting my comments on this blog.
2) Since the blog-site is currently under upgradation, PRAJA is currently not in a position to allow fresh member registrations. The inconvenience is regretted. 
 

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murali772's picture

living on hope

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An excerpt from a New Indian Express report of yesterday, read as @ Birds can be seen flocking to Bellandur lake and its surroundings for the third consecutive day. The lake which was in news for all the wrong reasons - being choked with sewage, flooding, frothing and even on fire, is now becoming a photographers delight. For the full text of the report, click here.
 
So, the work taken up on the lake proper, as directed by NGT, is apparently beginning to take effect, after all - good to know! But, this is very likely the result of the dilution of the sewage in-flow because of the torrential rains over the past few weeks. Not sure if the bird-life will continue when the in-flow reverts to "pure sewage", once the monsoons recede. 
 
At the presentation made on the 11th Oct, Mr Naresh Narasimhan had claimed that the sewage flow in the SWD, upstream of the Intermediate pumping station (IPS), at the National Games Village (NGV), had reduced hugely, since the commissioning of the station last month. However, logic suggests that all that it could have achieved perhaps is speedier flow, since the work on the pipeline linking the IPS and the 150 MLD STP (at Belur Nagasandra complex) is far from complete. The most difficult part of taking it below the footings of three bridges across the SWD (check the red route marked out in the map accessible here) is yet to start.
 
In Mr Naresh Narasimhan's presentation, a sewage trunk line was shown running alongside (or through) the entire length of the SWD. One wonders if this is the case in Seoul too (on which the K-100 project is largely modelled). If yes, how are they checking mixing of sewage with storm water - by having a number of de-centralised STP's? If not, where are their sewage lines laid, and what kind of an arrangement do they have for treatment?
 
All in all, a massive and costly project. But, at the end of it all (say 3 to 5 years), if we can have Bellandur lake, and the SWD's (restored as Rajakaluve's), nurturing flora and fauna year-round, like we got a glimpse of presently, perhaps it will be worth the effort.
 
And, this is supposed to be a pilot. Based on the learnings, restorations of the Chellagatta (check here for it's boxed-up state), Rishabhavati, and Hebbal valley drainage systems too are to follow. We live on hope - pray it actualises! 
 
PSEqually exciting have been similar efforts of rejuvenation 
  • a) of the Godavari in Nashik, by de-concretising the ghats that had supposedly been built-up to accommodate the thousands of devotees coming to take a dip in the river during Kumbh-mela,  
  • b) of the Vishwamitri in Vadodara, by re-modelling (through de-concretisation) of the river-front vista, that had been built-up as a part of city beautification drive,
Extensive damage had been done to the rivers by the earlier exercises, and now, teams of local architects, in both the cities, have come together to undo the damage, and take it beyond, along sustainable routes.
 
I learned of these while attending some of the webinars, part of a series put together by INHAF ( https://www.inhaf.org/ - headed amongst others by the renowned, Gujarat based architect, Sri Kirtee Shah).
 
Muralidhar Rao

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