The flash floods caused in Bengaluru’s Hulimavu on the afternoon of November 24 have left several families of blue-collar workers in the lurch. Living in hutments measuring 10×20 ft, the residents of this colony, located adjacent to the Hulimavu Lake, have lost most of their possessions and life savings.
While the Hulimavu Police are still probing what caused the breach in the bund that led to the floods, BBMP Mayor Goutham Kumar says that the colony that flooded was built upon land encroached from the lake. The mayor claims that the Bangalore Development Authority encroached over the lake land around a decade ago to construct the layout in Hulimavu and sold it to willing buyers.
Hulimavu Lake spans across 124 acres and along its northern side stands the layout.
According to revenue maps, the BDA encroached upon 17 acres and 33 guntas of lake land to construct the colony. The planning of the area is so bad, Arekere BBMP corporator Bhagyalakshmi Murali says that since the layout was built on encroached land, it ended up being the first area to face the brunt of the flash floods.
On Sunday afternoon, the bund constructed at the exit of the lake breached and water began flowing into the layout located along the northern periphery. A contractor had dug up a portion of the bund to allow water to flow into the storm drain. However, the walls of the bund gave way and flooded the locality.
An entire layout of houses is located in the north-eastern side of Hulimavu Lake and the back walls of the houses have been attached to the walls of the primary stormwater drain. A mud road run across the lake land while apartments stand tall on the north-western end of the lake. This area is also the flood plain of the lake, which means, in case of flooding, the water is most likely to naturally flow in that direction.
According to the survey map produced by the Revenue Department, the BDA encroached on 6 acres and 13 guntas of lake land and constructed a road that ran right across the lake. In addition, 11 acres and 2 guntas of lake land were encroached upon by the BDA to construct the layout.
In addition, the former Speaker KB Koliwad’s report on Lake Encroachments in Bengaluru had noted that the BDA had encroached upon around 129 acres in the city and out of these, 29 lakes were encroached upon in South Bengaluru.
BBMP officials say that the BDA was supposed to hand over the custody of the Hulimavu lake to the Palike in 2007.
“BDA handed over the lake to us (BBMP) only in 2016. We got Rs 6 crore to rejuvenate the lake only recently. If the encroachments had not been there, then the water from the lake would not have crossed the threshold of the bund, as there would have been more space for water to accumulate. There is a temple that is also encroaching on the lake property. These encroachments happened over a decade ago and BDA was supposed to take action. But BDA encroached on lake land so who is responsible?” a BBMP official asked.