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Hebbal lake - floating restaurant is off!

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A TOI report (Aug 16) says that EIH have canceled their plans to construct floating restaurant on Hebbal Lake:"The idea was that adequate income would be generated by those who got the lease for the lake's upkeep. However, the group has now decided that we are not going ahead with the project. We took up the lake to restore it. It is a social project for us,'' added Ketki (from EIH) ... Asked for the reason for the change in plans, she said the project had attracted way too much attention and criticism by environmentalists and conservationists in the city.

There is another side to these green protests - what will be the motivation for corporates to come forward and "own" lakes under Lake Development Authority's lake upkeep plans? Two points on that:

- Why is it that our city's lakes can't be restored and maintained from tax-payer's money?

- Owning up-keep of a lake can't be a completely private and capitalist activity. If corporates look to 'recoup' their 'investments' in lakes they 'adopt', there are bound to be 'conflicts' like these. Afterall, who decides how much profit or loss a business should make from these PPP arrangements? The goal of any business activity is to maximize profits without breaking any laws. And there, who is to decide - without going to courts etc - on whats the line as far as impacting the environment etc is concerned?

Green protests can always be "orcheastrated". But if these lake PPP arrangements are done as coporate social responsibility projects, green-protest situations are less likely to arise.

See it another way. Not many cared this much while Hebbal Lake was getting battered over last decade. People didn't evince much interest nor bothered to pull up LDA or BBMP on poor condition of this and other lakes. Suddenly, EIH enters the picture, words like "profit" and "corporations" get popular, and protests happen.

[Note: Hebbal Lake photo: credit trngam on flickr]

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tsubba's picture

Special Environment Zone

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The problem at Hebbal was not that some private investor was making profits, it was about what he was doing to the lake and it was about lack of vision and respect for environment, atleast in my opinion.

Lack of vision
First consider the geography, the lake itself was built 500 years ago at one end of a natural valley. The lake is not an isolated body that is out of its place. Even if man made, it belongs to its geography as naturally as a bird’s nest on a high tree. Many such man made lakes dot the entire valley.

Those guys must have had water problems, and that was their engineering. We too have water problems. And one the prayers we have is the now in fashion, rainwater harvesting. But that is exactly the solution they implemented. If our problems have scaled then probably the solution also has to scale. But instead of connecting the water bodies on these natural valleys, they are chopping off existing waterbodies.

Ecosystem itself was an outcome of a beautiful solution to an urgent problem. As you can imagine, waterbodies are one of the most efficient ways of creating an ecosystem. A bunch of trees here, another bunch there does not make an ecosystem. That is what differentiates a lalbagh from a hebbal.

So whether the goal is to address our problems, or to create a desirable environmental feature, the solution is to integrate the water bodies on these natural valleys. LDA’s, B* approach fails on this count.

Respect for environment
Hebbal was no Amaravati. But as it has exisited for 500 years it was a significant ecosystem. By itself it has no “design” flaws. The main problem is uncontrolled dumping of untreated sewage and other wastes. So the solution is to fix the problems we created in the first place. None of what private player proposed to do fixes the problems of Hebbal. Instead, it detroys what exists. How many environmental scientists do you think they consulted before drawing plans? If they want a floating restaurant why not make another lake in the valley and float a restaurant in it?

How About This For Private Participation
The mother of all PPP projects, Special Environment Zone. Integrate entire hebbal and koramangala valley. Deliverables: min n mld water, water quality metrics, tertiary treatment, 5 m acre Greenfield eco-tourism zones with FAR 10. Rest you have to maintain as green space (list of allowed trees decorative california palms doesnt count). grants, concessions, 15 year tax holiday.

If you want eco tourism then create your own eco-system.

tsubba's picture

addendum,

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pardon the geeky reply. the issue is not that EIH could potentially make koTi rupayi profit. the issue is that stated objectives and planned methods were at variance to what is public good. the problem is more with LDA and its lethargy and indifference to its own mandate. In PPP the objective should be mandated by public. PPP is not about letting the private player set the terms of engagement. The private participant has full rights to maximize his profits under constraints imposed by public entities. If no private player thinks it is feasible, then it is reaffirmation that the objective has to be accomplished through public means.
tsubba's picture

Some +ve developments

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There is an interesting piece of news on bangalorebuzz.blogspot.com though i am not able to find its source. But it shows that everybody knows what the the approach to conserve lakes should be. BBMP to develop 17 lakes in city The BBMP has taken up 17 lakes in the city for restoration and development, according to Krishna Udapudi, Deputy Conservator of Forests. A detailed survey is being conducted and the study will be completed in a month's time. According to him, budget is not a constraint as both the State and the Central Government have promised any amount that may be required to protect the water bodies. There is a need for holistic development of lakes with stress on environmental conservation, development of tree parks, water conservation and jogging areas. Lakes in Yelahanka, Puttenahalli, Deepanjalinagar and many others would be taken up for restoration. The idea is to retain existing tanks as water bodies, and ensure they are not polluted by discharge of effluent and industrial wastes. Other thrust areas would be to prevent silting, remove encroachment, create tree parks and develop and encourage acquatic life. The government is also keen on the 'adopt a lake' scheme, where lakes situated in the midst of residential areas which are already restored can be adopted either by local citizen committees, residents, associations, corporates or NGOs primarily for ecological conservation and protection. They would be encouraged to do so in return for some user fees collection for low impact activities like walking, jogging and other activities that would generate sufficient income for the maintenance and further development of these lakes. The idea is to encourage people's participation in conservation and maintenance of lakes. Initiatives for lake development Breached lakes: Due to impounding of water, nonmaintenance of bunds and non-functioning of waste weirs, some lakes breach, leading to distress in downstream areas. Such breached lakes will be developed by taking appropriate methods of restoration. Fresh water lakes: Most fresh water lakes are located on the outskirts of the city. These are less polluted by sewage water, thanks to their location. These will be protected through appropriate methods which are lake-specific. A survey has revealed that 330 medium to large lakes in the BMRDA area need urgent attention. Many lakes have dried up too. Lakes receiving sewage water: Most of these lakes are situated in the thickly populated areas of the city and bear the brunt of damage caused by dumping of garbage and inflow of sewage water. An integrated approach will be adopted for the development of such lakes. Other measures * Identification of sources and entry points of sewage discharge into the lake, measuring their quantity and working out its diversion. * Provision of diversion channels to divert sewage and sullage. * Providing catch water drains to collect run-off water from immediate catchment areas of the lake. * Inflow regulation gates to impound rainwater and to avoid sewage. * Desilting and removing accumulated organic sludge and sediments from the lake bed. * Securing lake boundaries by fencing, formation of shoulder parks for recreation. * Creation of boat jetties. Pedal boats churn water and aerate it, thus improving water quality. * Creation of islands to provide resting and breeding places for birds.

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