- 13,000 people suffer from skin diseases due to Byramangala lake pollution
- Untreated waste disposal has polluted agricultural produce in Bidadi
- Waste continues to be dumped despite prohibitory orders, allege villagers
New Delhi: Not too long ago Bidadi in Karnataka was a busy village. From flyers of political parties to colourful graffiti, in Bidadi, which is adjacent to Ramanagara constituency represented by Karnataka Chief Minister H.D Kumaraswamy, the election fever was at its peak. But For the people of Bidadi election was nothing more than a five yearly occurrence, as they had more pressing concerns in the village. For years, residents of Bidadi have woken up to toxic froth from Byramangala lake, that has polluted their vegtation and made them prone to skin diseases. The Byramangala lake in Bidadi has become a hub of lake pollution, and unlike Bellandur in Bengaluru, froth from Byramangala may not flow onto the streets, but pollutes agricultural produce in the area.
Urban habits have often resulted in dire consequences for the environment, and the Byramangala lake in Bidadi is no exception. Being away from limelight has worsened Byramangala and Bidadi’s condition, as everything ranging from expired medicines to chemical fertilisers are dumped into the river. Often, waste from Bengaluru is brought in trucks and dumped in the river. Years of this practice has polluted Bidadi’s water and soil to such an extent, that farmers and fishermen in the village have developed skin infections due to the level of toxins.
The lake, which comprises a big area surrounding the village, is a hub of pollution and has become poisonous in nature. Over 13,000 people have been diagnosed with skin diseases in the past ten years. Diseases like dermatitis, blisters and thickening of skin has become common in Bidadi and surrounding villages. While people buy medicines regularly, spending over Rs 1,000 per month for medicines is becoming unsustainable for them, said Dr V Raju, District Medical Officer, Ramanagara District.
Dumping of untreated waste into the lake for years has caused the lake water to become polluted, filled with harsh chemicals. The absence of a waste treatment plant in the vicinity has only added to the woes of Bidadi’s residents, as dumping of untreated waste continues. Speaking to NDTV, pollution control consultant AA Purohit said that dumping of untreated waste was the biggest culprit behind Byramangala’s state.
The arrival of garbage trucks from Bengaluru lake has also caused great uproar among the residents of Bidadi. Environmental activists have raised concern about the regular arrival of garbage trucks from Bengaluru, and their indiscriminate disposal of waste has worsened Byramangala’s condition. Environment Support Group Trust (ESGT), an environmental organisation, said that being away from limelight has worsened Bidadi’s condition.
“Being 40 kilometres from Bengaluru has made it easier for trucks to come to Bidadi, dump the garbage and go away. This practice over the years has polluted the whole area, and the population of the area is bearing the brunt of poor waste management practices. Dumping of garbage must be immediately stopped and restoration work of the lake should be undertaken to stop the toxic froth from spreading further,” said Leo Saldanha, founding member, Environmental Support Group Trust.
Lakshman, Karnataka Pollution Control Board Chairman told NDTV that instructions have been given to everyone not to dump garbage into lake Byramangala, and a special committee has been formed to monitor the order. Mr Saldanha however, said that the order is not being thoroughly followed.
Lakes in Bengaluru and surrounding areas have become victims of severe pollution and urban encroachment, and Bellandur and Byramangala are prime examples of what can happen to a lake if untreated waste is dumped into lakes. Fire lit up the Bellandur lake thrice last year, raising concerns that lakes, which were once lifelines of Bengaluru, are dying slow and gradual deaths. With Byramangala’s plight becoming public, it is now clear that indiscriminate dumping of untreated waste is not only killing lakes, but people living around them as well.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.