Wednesday, December 17, 2014

IT Enabling Karnataka

Governance at your Fingertips’ much awaited initiative was launched by Government of Karnataka early this month, and the Chief Guest was none other than the Honorable President of India. Seldom has Karnataka missed an opportunity to be Innovative or to embrace technology ‘Governance at your Fingertips’ is yet another feather in its cap.

How can one forget BengaluruOne initiative that brought the payment of all utilities under one roof, with centers spread across the city operating from  8am to 8pm or the BWSSB and BESCOM automated bill payment machines.

BBMP launched the SAS, enabling assessment and payment of Property Tax online, thereby cutting the middle men, curbing corruption and saving the citizens from the hassle of standing in queues for hours.

KSRTC going online with its ticket booking was dubbed as the first of its kind in the country. BMTC online access to bus schedules or enabling the staff to apply for leaves via Kiosks, the state embraced technology seamlessly for all the right reasons.

Bengaluru police went a step further, made their presence felt in the social media and starting putting out information on Law & Order and Traffic on Facebook. With rising crime on children no less than the City Police Commissioner and his team took to twitter to interact with worried citizens, sharing information, making police truly accessible and people friendly. In which city in India will you find a Police Commissioner replying to your tweet and tagging the relevant officer?

After the arrest of an ISIS online supporter, the city went tizzy by the threats posted by some ISIS supporter calling for revenge. It was indeed very reassuring to see how the City police quickly addressed the citizens and put out a letter from Police Commissioner in social media and asking people to share it.

When a concerned citizen wrote this tweet to Police Commissioner @sai_2008: @BlrCityPolice @CPBlr how we can believe that this letter is really from police commissioner because electronically anything is possible"

Police Commissioner quickly replied "@CPBlr: @sai_2008 @BlrCityPolice believe me. It's from me!!"

Government of Karnataka is using technology as an enabler and as a tool to reach out to its citizens across all medium/platfroms, and why not, when a large part of our population is connected on mobile phone network already.

Governance at your Fingertips’ under the name ‘MobileOne’ is a user friendly mobile application and 161 toll free number offering over 4000+ services ranging from Utility, Police, Telecom, Travel, Agriculture, Tax, Sakala, HRMS, Healthcare, Banking etc across the state. Citizens can download the application on their mobiles or dial 161 to access information, check service status, check nearest bus stop, raise complain or pay bill etc at their convenience.

Governance is about making the right policies and reaching it out to people, Government of Karnataka through its innovation and technology initiatives has show the way to the entire country time and again.

To showcase the Karnataka technology initiative, Karnataka tableau at this Republic Day in Delhi should indeed be the MobileOne and various MGovernance initiatives of Government of Karnataka. It’s time to say that Karnataka is inspired by its Capital city that provides IT & IT enabled services to the world.

Access to Services, Information and Processes will go a long way in taking Governance to people and ‘Governance at your Fingertips’ is indeed one big step in the right direction by Honorable Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his Government.

-  Kavitha Reddy                     

Also published in Jagran City Plus HSR Layout Edition 27th Dec 2014 Click

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Recoding INC: Open Letter to Rahul Gandhi

Dear Rahul Gandhi,

HT headlines that read ‘Rahul Gandhi gets ready for rediscovery of India’ indeed prompted me to write an open letter to you. After many such ‘rediscovery of India’ trips that you have undertaken it has been nothing more than a mockery of the legacy of ‘Discovery of India’.

Social Media, Main Stream, Voters, Panelist on debates, Right-wingers, Political opponents all are feasting on INC Leadership and particularly you, and somehow you choose ‘rediscovery of India’ path!

INC its staring at the Leadership for direction and all you plan to do is an ‘Incredible’ India tourism campaign? Don’t be fooled when some of the ‘bright stars’ in the party claim that if Indira could do it so can Rahul, even though I believe you have many qualities of Indira and she has been your inspiration, it’s fair to say that you are NO Indira and 1970's India is not 2014 India.

I am not interested in giving my views on why INC ended up with 44 MP, just 6 less than the maximum WhatsApp group count, nor I am willing to blame UPA-2 for what it did or did not do. Because, no one drives a car just staring at the rear view mirror, a rear view mirror is only to learn from the past and be aware of what is behind you. It’s time to look ahead, make a fresh start, but sadly there seems to be no concrete efforts made in that direction.

It’s given that you will be under the worst scrutiny ever, both internally and externally and it’s not going to get any better for you for a long time. The Leaders in INC are having a ‘party’ literally, pouncing, scratching and prowling at each other leaving the workers in a state of shock or worst running for cover.

Do not forget, over 10.7 crore people voted for INC, its time INC kept its commitment to these people who stood by the party even when it was staring at a brutal loss. Make a shift, ask these 10.7 crore people why they voted for INC, may be their conviction can help you steer INC in the right direction and help to ‘Recode’ INC.

Buzz is that there will more emphasis on PR, Communication, SM, Media interactions etc etc, yes all these can be achieved by bringing in professionals to manage it, ok good, but is that all one needs to do? No, INC has to bring back its sympathizers, believers, liberals, anti-right-wingers, traditional supporters, the disillusioned and more importantly women back into its fold.

Yes democratization of IYC and NSUI is something you should be proud of, but are they heading in the right direction? May not be, IYC and NSUI that should have been an army of political activist, free thinkers, idealist, young minds who feel the pulse of young India and who represent the ideology of INC, sadly they reflect the same shade of the larger organization which you are finding difficult to change.

INC biggest supporters were the women, for whom Indira Gandhi has been an inspiration, but the organization has failed them completely. Local leadership across states has systematically decimated the women leaders and workers. It’s unimaginable how a party headed by an inspiring woman like Sonia Gandhi has no credible and strong line of women leaders, if this is not failure what else can it be?

I too come from a family of political activist and hardcore INC supporters, all my life I have seen elections, where working professionals used to take leave from work and campaign selflessly for INC in every election. Where did these professionals go? What made these professionals go away, many may not have changed their ideology but they have simply distanced themselves from the local leadership. In corporate world we say that people do not quit organization, they quit managers, and it is not different from what happened to these professionals who were the greatest supporters of INC.

I am emphasizing again and again on the local leadership and grassroots level, because whoever becomes the President of INC nothing will change unless the foundation is ‘Recoded’. There is an urgency to move from mere tokenism to activism, money to mechanism and to bring back idealism into the organization. It can only happen if every member in INC is empowered to question and correct the leadership at all levels without being politically banished.

India has changed and INC can’t keep on romancing history, but there are many things that are eternal, which INC stood for - free thinking, idealism, conviction, liberal view, social justice, equality and fearlessness, and Recoding INC will be incomplete without this.

My nasty comments on you are not an indication of disbelief in your capabilities, recently when someone asked if your sister is a better bet for INC, I firmly said with a bloody nose, battered and bruised image RG is more equipped to lead INC. I am indeed a supporter of your Leadership; I strongly believe you are Sincere, Honest and someone who has the Heart in the right place.

As they say it’s the Generals who win the war through Strategy-Delegation-Deployment. Stop applying lipstick on pigs; bring in the Generals who can deliver, who are committed to the ideology of INC.

Don’t wait for political opponents and parties to make mistakes, winning a ‘For’ vote is more reassuring than winning an ‘Against’ vote. A golden opportunity has presented itself, it’s the 125 birth anniversary year of the first Prime Minister of our Nation there cannot be a better day to start Recoding INC. Indeed there can be no greater tribute to Pandit Nehru than restoring INC as a party of and for every Indian.

Quoting for an old advertisement that I think is apt for Recoding INCTo change the way you Look, change the way you Cook’.

Kavitha Reddy

Monday, November 10, 2014

Right to Clean Drinking Water

Clean drinking water is still a great challenge in India; in 2008 96% of Urban Indian and 84% of Rural India had access to improved water, averaging to 88% which is a drastic improvement from 72% in 1990.

But unfortunately 67% of Indian households do not treat their drinking water, even though it could be chemically or bacterial contaminated, thereby increasing the vulnerability to water borne diseases.   

Clean drinking water is directly linked to health of the nation, lesser diseases would only mean a healthier and more productive human resource, and hence access to clean drinking water cannot be a privilege for the few but should a Right for all.

Many innovative approaches have been taken to improve the quality of drinking water in India, one such innovative step that has see a large scale success is the Any Time Water (ATW) project initiated by Sri HK Patil in Gadag few years ago.

Taking cue from Gadag success Kanakapura MLA and current Energy Minister Sri DK Shiva Kumar undertook a large scale implementation of ATW’s under the banner of DKS Charitable Institution Trust in every single Panchayat of Kanakapura Assembly constituency and later extended to several parts of Bengaluru Rural.

Over the last 7-8 months my visits to Bengaluru Rural on various projects gave me a first hand information of the working of the swanky ATWs in most remote Panchayats. The citizens are happy that at a drop of just Rs 1 into the vending machine they are getting 10 liters of clean drinking water. Many of them said that they are demanding more ATW’s in Panchayats where there are more number of villages. It is indeed commendable that the access to clean drinking water has almost become a Right in this part of the country.

Success is indeed contagious; off late few Bengaluru Urban MLA’s are making an earnest attempt to replicate the model in their constituencies, and why not with urban poor almost at an alarming 25-30% clean drinking water is the least one could provide to ensure that urban poor do not spend their earning on medical bill due to diseases arising for unsafe/contaminated water.

Every BBMP ward has its fair share of lesser privileged and poor population and efforts should be made to provide clean drinking water accessible in these urban pockets/areas. In wake of hike in BWSSB supplied water and linking of usage and making it slab based, access to low cost rather no cost clean drinking water for the urban poor will be a logical and right step.

Elected representative should indeed push the drinking water project aggressively and effectively in their respective Assembly segments and Wards making clean drinking water accessible to urban poor in their locality.

A well planned localized monitoring and distribution mechanism to avoid misuse will go a long way in truly democratization of clean drinking water.

I also urge the citizen groups, RWA’s, political activists and NGO’s to take an active role and emphasize the need to provide clean drinking water for a better and healthier India.

-       Kavitha Reddy

Also published in Jagran City Plus, HSR Layout on 15th Nov 2014  - Click 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Check for Child Safety

An increase in incidents of crime against girl children in school is not only appalling but also extremely shameful. It’s unimaginable that predators are committing sexual crimes on girl children as young as 3 years. Does it indicate a decline in our social values or is it that the schools are failing in their responsibility to ensure safety for children?

There is an urgent need for action and to set up a process for ensuring a Safe Environment for children in school, and it should be on top of the agenda. Since all the incidents of crime on girl children are occurring in the school premise the school authorities should be made accountable, they no more can shy away from the responsibility of ‘Safety’.

Government of Karnataka on 23rd July 2014 sent out a circular putting out the Guidelines & Safety Measures that Schools have to follow, and ensure safety for children at schools. The Guidelines & Safety Measures also has a Standard Operating Procedure that needs to be followed to prevent crimes, and an Action Plan how to deal with the crime if it occurs.

The Guidelines & Measures includes the role of Parents, School Management, Relevant Department and Police at each stage. The last date to implement the Guidelines & Safety Measures was 31st Oct 2014, and unfortunately many schools have not implemented the Guidelines & Safety Measures.

Indian Youth Congress (IYC) Karnataka has initiated a 3 day long audit (from 5th Nov) of all the schools in Bengaluru, with a single focus ‘to ensure safety for children at school’. IYC teams along with Civil Society Members and Volunteers are spread across the city, they will visit schools with a check-list of Guidelines & Safety Measures, understand the extent of implementation and compliance. All non-compliances will be reported to the nearest police station and a complaint will be filed against the school. IYC will also submit a detailed report on compliance to the State Government for further action.

‘Good Education and Safe Environment’ for children has to be everyone’s responsibility, schools have to play a major role in ensuring the Safety of children on their premises. School is a temple of learning and at no cost the schools should compromise on the Safety of the children. Parents admit their children in a school to ensure a better future and the better future cannot be scared by the ugly face of crime on them.

The initiative taken by the IYC team is indeed commendable and a public participation to make these kinds of events will indeed send a strong message to non complainant schools and to the perpetrators of crime on children.

For a better City, State and Nation ‘A Check for Child Safety’ is a must and its time the schools are transparent and keep open the process for audit on an ongoing basis and not as a onetime initiative.

- Kavitha Reddy

Also appeared in City Plus HSR Layout edition 8th Nov 2014 Click here 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Agara Lake - Our Lake Our Pride

Even as Lake Development Authority (LDA) drags on the Detailed Project Report (DPR) process without paying any attention to the basic maintenance of Agara Lake, the October rains have ensured the lake is back to life with water to the brim. The birds, fishes and the flora & fauna is back in the lake, the lush green trees feels more relaxing than ever, a lap around the lake gives the much needed fresh air this is missing in the concrete jungles of Bengaluru.

LDA has been neglecting the lake without de-weeding or removal of hyacinth which has been rapidly growing in the lake, nothing much to speak about on the cleaning of the lake surrounding, all in the excuse of DPR. There is urgency and a need to complete the DPR in a stipulated time and to take it to the implementation level and revive the lake to the fullest. The reasons known only to LDA, there is no sign of a timeline nor a sense of urgency even after 18 months since the citizens first started the Save Agara Lake drive.

Added to the apathy of LDA are BWSSB inability to ensure that the sewage water is not let into the SWD and most importantly BBMP unwillingness to keep the SWD garbage and silt free. Even an average rain floods the city of Bengaluru, and it will not be an exaggeration to say that if BBMP keeps all the 800+kms of SWD clean the rain water will fill the lakes in Bengaluru and the case of Agara Lake is no different.

Even after repeated follow-up LDA has not shown any interest in getting a check-dam build in the main SWD to feed the lake nor has it asked the BBMP to clear the blockages in the smaller SWD that are in the Agara Lake catchment area. With Lake Activists form the Save Agara Lake forum running from pillar to post; it was indeed the support and guidance from Mr Ugrappa MLC that lead to some drastic action to finally get water into Agara Lake.

Agara Lake has a very good catchment area and is also part of the lake cluster that is interlinked, Bengaluru received good amount of rains between June-October, and this year also it was no different. Last year Agara Lake was full much earlier and the difference being this year there seem to be a consolidated effort from LDA, BBMP and BWSSB not to utilize the good rains to fill the lake. If not for the Lake Activist who got the active support and participation from Mr Ugrappa MLC the lake would have stayed dry.

The change in the attitude of these authorities only suggests that there is an aggressive push to waste Rs 35 crs of public money on an STP with would also have a yearly expenditure of Rs 1 cr, which actually may not be required if LDA, BBMP, BWSSB do the work they are suppose to be doing.

The nexus seems to be getting clear day by day, the intent is to ensure that the lake dries-up, and the agenda of STP is pushed. People who have been in the lake vicinity and the residents of Agara village know very well that the lake is a rain water harvesting zone and the lake has always received good inflow of water even when the lake was under litigation and was completely abandoned for few years.

The fact of the matter is that the greed of money and builder nexus seems to be delaying the lake revival process, and its time LDA is held accountable and asked to be transparent about the DPR and the timelines for revival works to start.

It’s time the elected representatives take a good long walk around the lake and see the number of missed opportunities, the chocked water inlets point at the story of how the authorities has systematically trying to cut the rain water inflow to the lake.

City of Bengaluru which was once know as a city of 1000 lakes now has about 150+ identified lakes and Lake Activists from every corner of the city are putting a brave fight to retain, revive and rejuvenate the lakes. Agara Lake has a history of more than 100 years, the hallmark of the lake is its wetland design which serves as an excellent bio-filter and is also a rainwater harvesting zone, most importantly it’s the Pride of HSR Layout; it must be restored to its past glory in the right way and should not end up as one more scam in the making.

- Kavitha Reddy, Lake Activist

Also appeared in HSR Layout & Koramangala 31st Oct 2014 edition of City Plus

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

HSR 10K Freedom Run 2014

2nd Edition of HSR 10K Freedom Run was organized on 15th Aug 2014 at HSR layout, the event attracted over 400+ runners from 8-60 years who came from all over Bangalore, some even came from Hosur.

The runners braved a cold morning and started assembling at the venue from 5:30am. After a spirited warm up led by two runners Mr. Sushil Bhasin and Mr. Charan (barefoot runner), the runners lined up at the start point and sang the National Anthem and then the run was flagged off by Smt Sunanda Reddy, Founder President of Mythri Mahila Koota.

With the pilot vehicle ahead, the runners were trailed by an ambulance, courtesy Green View Hospital who were the Medical support partners for the run. Over 20 volunteers posted all through the route ensured that the runners were safe on the road, they managed the traffic and gave a safe passage for the runners.

The Chief Patron and a great supporter of the ‘HSR 10K Freedom Run’ brand, Shri Kupendra Reddy MP RS, could not attend the event due to prior appointments. Shri Urgappa MLC graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. Ms Kavitha Reddy, the Trustee of Kaagaz Foundation used the occasion to mention about the Agara Lake campaign and Shri Urgappa’s unequivocal and unparallel support for revival and rejuvenation of Agara Lake.

Gift vouchers of Rs 1500-3500 were given out by Vasan Dental Care; they were also the Health partners for the event. The winners were awarded with Medals, Certificates and the cash awards of Rs 3000, Rs 2000, Rs 1000 for Girls & Boys category winners and Rs 7000, Rs 5000, Rs 3000 for Men & Women category winners.

The stars among the runners were the young children who ran a spirited race and stunned everyone in the audience. Among the women, Ms Neera Katwal who clocked her personal best was delighted by her personal achievement. Second place in the women’s category was won by Japanese national Ms Hiromi Nishiyama. The men’s category threw out some surprises with the lead runners being disqualified for taking the wrong route, in all it was a very closely contested race.

A donation of Rs 15000 was handed over to the HSR, Sector-1 RWA on behalf of Kaagaz Foundation by Shri Urgappa towards the betterment of Parks and Tree Plantation in HSR Layout Sector 1. On this occasion, Special invitee Ms Sushma Gubbi from City Plus was honoured for the local media contribution towards raising several issues that are also represented and taken up by Kaagaz Foundation.

Winners of the 2nd edition of HSR 10K Freedom Run:

Girls 5K
1st Yashaswini Srikanth
2nd Saharsha
3rd Roshini Ravi

Boys 5K
1st Theejas
2nd Joseph P
3rd Anirudh Shastry

Men 10K
1st Govindan, time 35:40
2nd Kupendra, time 35:41
3rd Tarun, time 36:10

Women 10K
1st Neera Katwal, time 45:06
2nd Hiromi Nishiyama, time 45:59
3rd Divya Vasishta, time 52:37

After the run, the runners were given refreshments and also collected their participation certificates. Kaagaz Foundation team promised to come back next year with a bigger number and with timing chip option for all the runners. The cause that was taken up this year was Greener Bangalore and Healthier Bangalore, and Ms Suman Srinidhi Director of Kaagaz Foundation spoke about the campaign and awareness programs that the organization will be taking up for the next 12 months.

The event that witnessed a spirited participation which is now a brand event of HSR Layout concluded without any glitches, promising to come back for the next year edition. The Traffic police and HSR Police ensured a complete support for a well co-ordinated event.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Memorandum to CM - Concerns on proposed STP in Agara Lake

Date: 8th July 2013

Shri Siddaramaiah
Honorable Chief Minister
Government of Karnataka

Respected Sir,

Over that last year and a half, many of us who have been part of the Agara Lake forum have been interacting with the Lake Development Authority (LDA) for the revival and rejuvenation of Agara Lake. Post your visit last September, the progress to revive and rejuvenate the lake has been in a steady pace and the tender to prepare a DPR has been awarded to a qualified firm.

For the last few months BWSSB has been surveying Agara Lake to setup a 3MLD Sewage Treatment Plant (STP), it has also been found that they have identified over 2+ acres of Agara Lake wet land for the STP. We as citizens are extremely concerned about the proposal to install an STP in Agara Lake or in its vicinity.

The following are the concerns:
  • If an STP is constructed in the existing Wet Land of Agara Lake, it will irreversibly destroy the large wet land which is a unique feature and natural bio-filter of Agara Lake. It will be detrimental to the ecosystem – birds, fishes, walkers and surroundings.
  • Good quality treated water STP water outlet  is learned to be available in the apartment near the lake which can take care of the evaporation and seepage loss significantly during non-monsoon period if let in through the wet lands.
  • Proposed STP is at a cost of 30-35 crores which is indeed a huge waste of money as STP many not even be required as all the options to direct water to Agara Lake has not been explored & exploited fully.
  • Proposed STP is on a large scale experimental basis with a new technology and permanent funding to keep the STP operational is huge. Operations, Maintenance and replacement of Membrane of STP with Membrane Technology is very expensive and it’s not clear what will be the source and how the funding be managed in the long term.
  • STP is likely to generate a great amount of Sludge and the method/process of disposal of Sludge is not clear.
  • It is not clear whether 3MLD Membrane based technology plant will treat the water flowing for the SWD (which is a mix of domestic, Industrial waste and rain water) or the sewerage from the UGD pipelines that are proposed to be laid.
  • The characteristics (Industrial, Domestics etc) of the sewage are unknown and it’s not clear whether the water flowing into the plant requires some pre-treatment.
Our suggestions:
  • The proposed STPs to must be constructed in upstream of the lakes chain of Bangalore.
  • Revamp the existing STP in upstream Lake of Madivala which is currently partially functional and also unable to treat in excess of 20MLD.
  • Reconsider STP only after implementation of LDA revival plan and after exhausting all the options of directing the water from the HSR catchment area, long-term view has to be taken to install STP’s on a need base and not as magical solution.
  • The lake has a good catchment with a network of streams leading to the lake. HSR Layout catchment has NOT been let in from the year 2004 and raw sewage has been entering in the last few years. So the catchment area has to be fully utilized to divert water flow into the lake through the wet lands. Revival plan for Agara Lake should include clearing all the SWD and letting in the water flow into the lake.
We also would like to reiterate that we are not against the STP as a concept; STPs are indeed a necessity, given the water crisis Bangalore city is going to face in the next 2-3 years. But Government should take a long term view on the planned STP and question BWSSB’s intent on setting up STPs in downstream lakes rather than upstream lakes. 

As primary stakeholders our agenda is to save the lake from deteriorating or misuse and to put to use a great source of water body that could recharge the depleting underground water tables for common good. The lake is indeed a land mark and we wish to save the lake and the greenery that is much needed in an already concrete jungle.

We are submitting this memorandum in full faith that you will take cognizance of all the above points mentioned and will act upon without any delay.

Thanking you,
Warm Regards

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Is Agara Lake a Mandur in the making?

Over the last year and a half, many of us who have been part of the Agara Lake forum have been interacting with the Lake Development Authority (LDA) for the revival and rejuvenation of Agara Lake. Post the Chief Minister’s visit last September, the progress to revive and rejuvenate the lake was in a steady pace and the tender to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) has been awarded to a qualified firm.

For the last few months BWSSB has been surveying Agara Lake to setup a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP), it has also been found that BWSSB has identified over 2+ acres of Agara Lake wet land for the STP. Agara Lake has already lost most part of its catchment area, latest to BDA that has in turn sold/leased lake land to an Educational Trust. Even as the dispute over the land encroached by BDA is going on, BWSSB plan to set up an STP which is indeed very alarming.

The primary objective of BWSSB is to ensure that the entire city sewage system is transported through underground pipes to designated pump-houses and STPs, which it has failed in totality. The Storm Water Drains (SWD) that has to carry only the rain water and the overflows for the upstream lakes is today nothing more than open sewage drains.

BBMP in the last 5-7 years has made no effort to clean the floating garbage or de-silt the SWD nor has it taken action against BWSSB for not fixing the sewage flow into the SWDs. No amount of pollution in the SWDs or water flowing into Bangalore lakes has woken-up Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB).

BWSSB, BBMP, KSPBC have all consistently failed to do their duties, time and again. Now adding to the list of experiments is BWSSB’s plan to setup an STP, promising ‘crystal clear water’ using membrane process from the loan given by a Japanese agency. The cost incurred to treat 1 KL of sewage water is about Rs 12, and the planned plant capacity is about 3 MLD. BWSSB is promising to let the treated water into Agara Lake and the excess would be sold to commercial/residential complexes.

Why STP in Agara Lake is not good and should be opposed?

  1. STP in the wet land of Agara Lake would mean an end to inflow of natural rain water, eventually converting the lake into a mere tank.
  2. Agara Lake has one of the best wet land designs and with the planned STP the lake will lose 2-3 acres of land along with the entire wet land area.
  3. 1000 mm pipes that BWSSB is planning to lay in the Agara Lake would mean the diversion of most of the Bangalore sewage towards the STP. As the sewage flow increases over a period of time more additional STPs would come up. This means taking over more lake area in the years to come.
  4. Most of the STPs in Bangalore are either in the non-residential areas or non-working conditions, putting up a STP right in the middle of the residential area could affect the citizen’s health and destroy the much needed lung space.
If the intent of BWSSB is to treat sewage water and in turn provide potable water, fill lakes and re-charge the ground water tables it can simply revamp Madivala Lake STP which is the upstream for Agara Lake. All the excess treated water from Madivala Lake can reach Agara Lake through the SWD and further downstream lakes.

STPs are indeed a necessity, given the water crisis Bangalore city is going to face in the next 2-3 years, but serious questions arise in case of Agara Lake proposed STP:

  • Is the STP planned to benefit the adjacent SEZ?
  • Will the planned STP takeover more land as and when the inflow of sewage increases?
  • Why should an STP come up in a wet land?
  • BWSSB is only talking about 5-7 years maintenance that runs to 1-2 crores per year, what will happen after the initial contract period?
  • Why STP in a downstream lake and why not in an upstream lake?
If BWSSB stops the sewage flowing into the SWD, if BBMP clears the floating garbage and silt in the SWD and if KSPCB does regular check on the quality of water flowing into the lakes a large part of water problem and contamination of ground water can be stopped.

Let’s be very clear, no amount of technology or treatment helped to clean Hussain Sagar in Hyderabad. It will be good if BWSSB stops fooling people with ‘crystal clear water’ STP in Agara Lake and gets its fundamentals right. Ensuring 100% Underground Drainage System (UDS) should be the first priority of BWSSB and is indeed the first important step towards stopping contamination of ground water.

This piece of news may come as a rude shock for many Agara Lake enthusiasts and citizens who care about saving the lakes in Bangalore. It’s time the citizens of HSR Layout, Agara Village, Jakkasandra and surrounding areas are aware what is being planned in their backyard so that they can ensure one of the pristine water body is not converted into an STP that treats most of Bangalore sewage. Any attempt to set up an STP in Agara Lake should be contested and opposed keeping in mind the need to save our lake and the lung space.

Our Chief Minister should take a long term view on the planned STP and question BWSSB’s intent on setting up STPs in downstream lake rather than upstream lakes. Since BWSSB comes under the Chief Minister, it’s his responsibility and obligation to ensure that BWSSB does not take this wrong step that intends to benefit only a few powerful people with vested interests. I do hope Chief Minister will intervene, look into the merits of the argument I have put out and support the common citizens to retain both lung space and the lake.  

Kavitha Reddy
Environmental Activist 

Also published in CityPlus HSR Layout 20th June 2014