Friday, January 27, 2012

News Article: Fencing of 18 City lakes begins

P M Raghunandan, Bangalore, January 23 2012, DHNS:

Boost to protection of green belt around Bangalore

In a big boost to the protection of green belt around Bangalore, the State Minor Irrigation Department has taken up a project to rejuvenate and fence 18 tanks located within the green belt limits, after clearing encroachments.

The department has already completed survey of these tanks and identified their original boundaries. Steps are being taken to remove encroachments on 13 tanks in coordination with the Revenue Department.

Besides, rejuvenation work has been taken up in eight tanks, which are in bad shape, Minor Irrigation Secretary P N Srinivasachary said.

There will be only one entry and exit point at these tanks. A separate enclosure will be provided for cattle grazing and for local community use.

Once fenced, the tanks will be completely safe from encroachments and they will be maintained properly. The entire project is estimated to cost nearly Rs 10 crore, and the contract has already been awarded to take up fencing of many of these tanks. The work is expected to be completed in about six months, he added.

Long-term benefit

The project to restore these water bodies will go a long way in protecting the green belt (place where construction activities are banned) which has been shrinking rapidly.

As per the 1995-2005 Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) of Bangalore prepared by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), the green belt was spread across 732 sq km (one sq km is equal to 247 acres) around Bangalore, while conurbation area (a predominantly urban region including adjacent towns and suburbs) was 508 sq km. The total local planning area of the BDA is 1,240 sq km.

But the green belt shrunk to 455 sq km, while the conurbation area ballooned to 785 sq km in the 2005-2015 CDP of the BDA.

In other words, about 277 sq km of land coming under the green belt limits was opened for construction activities or urbanisation. The green belt, as a result, became smaller than the conurbation area.

Removal of encroachment

With respect to five of these tanks, encroachments were found to be widespread. For instance, about 77.1 acres of a total 108.8 acres of Vaderhalli kere in Bangalore South taluk was under encroachment.

The Tahasildar had given permission to some people to take up cultivation in 1942. Similarly, about 4.64 hectares of Maragondanahalli kere have been encroached upon. Tahasildars of all five taluks of Bangalore urban districts have been directed to clear encroachments at the earliest, officials said.

The department has, however, dropped its plan to fence all its tanks in other districts as they are extensively used by the local community.

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