Fish sales plummet due to toxic waste in Bellandur Lake

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Published on March 11, 2021 by

Untreated sewage waste in Bellandur Lake is resulting in depleting quality and quantity of marine life

By- Antara Gupta | March 9th, 2021

Bengaluru:  Fishermen near the Bellandur lake area are facing loss due to the rapidly depleting marine life of the water. The toxic waste in the lake is degrading the flora and fauna.  These fishermen say that their sales have gone down by at least 40 percent in five years. Earlier they used to earn about Rs. 500 to Rs 800. However now they say that they can barely make a living. The lake which was a lifeline to 18 surrounding villages is gradually turning into a sewage tank.

“My fellow fishermen have relocated because their sales went down drastically because of the fish dying in the dirty water. Officials aren’t caring much about this either. It is very difficult to survive now,” says Anil H., a local fisherman.  Most of the fishermen in the area have now been forced to relocate because the pollution in the lake has affected their only means of a livelihood.

According to BWSSB reports, the water quality monitors installed in the Bellandur Lake indicated 50-60 mg per liter waste load earlier. However now, due to heavy chemical load, it indicates 1300 mg per liter waste load. Apart from this the ideal BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) is 25mg/liter but due to the high levels of toxins let into the lake the BOD now reads 180mg/liter. Forty percent of the untreated sewage waste comes from the Agara pumping station.

Case studies say that due to improper sewage system the untreated water overflows and mixes with storm water rains and drain water and flows into the Bellandur Lake via Kormangala and Challaghatta valley. Due to such high levels of toxin, the lake often catches fire. The officials on the other hand say that a plan is being laid out to bring some sort of relief to the locals living around Bellandur Lake. Bellandur lake development head, M Dharmendhra says, “We are organizing cleanliness drives twice a month. The pollution cannot be curtailed overnight. We are aware how the locals have been affected and thus two additional STPs are set to be installed with the total capacity of 150 MLD.”

The experts insist that a sustainable solution for the lake is the need of the hour. They further state that the quality of fishes has gone down because they swallow the debris floating in the water. This is why even the quality of the fish has gone down by 86 percent which in turn is resulting in stunted fish growth. This has made the occupation of fishing next to impossible. “The waste that has been accumulated over the years cannot be removed in a month’s time. No EIA (environmental impact assessment) has been done despite repeated requests. The authority must do a sort of an assessment to understand the quality of water and then come up with a long-term solution,” says Field Researcher and trustee of Bangalore Environmental Trust, Dr. Nidhi Paliwal.

Due to the steady degradation of Bellandur Lake, the decades-old fishing occupation has come to a halt. These fishermen who were already bearing the brunt of the pandemic are now left helpless because of the toxic water. Experts insist that only carefully assessed scientific solutions could save the lake and the livelihood of the fishermen.

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