Bangalore: Plastic polluters sent packing

L B Shastrinagar RWA discourages plastic and to make it work, distributes cloth bags among residents

If you are a resident of Lal Bahadur Shastri Nagar, be prepared for a knock on the door to remind you that plastic’s not so fantastic.

Uthkarsh, as L B Nagar Association likes to call itself, started off on its rounds three years ago and now plans to start all over again just to remind people. And they don’t stop there – they also distribute cloth bags among residents for a price.

PERSONAL TO PUBLIC

The idea came from two residents who were inspired by a speech. “On January 26, 2007, P Venkatramanan from Indiranagar Residents’ Welfare Association (RISE) gave a speech on the dangers of plastic. That speech really got us thinking and from then, my friend Sarita and I have incorporated the anti-plastic principle at an individual level,” said 36-year-old Trupti Godbole, a member of the Uthkarsh core team that looks at anti-plastic activities.

“When we would go to the grocery shops, we would take our own bags. If we forgot them, we would come back home for the bags, but would never accept plastic bags,” she said.

But after a while, the duo and their team of two, Suresh Kumar and Sujatha Sharma, realised that they had to make other residents aware of the ills of plastic too and thus began the door-to-door campaign.

The campaign also culminated in making cloth that were distributed among residents and put up in neighbourhood grocery shops. “There are 11 apartments in the area like, Kalpatru, Anand Enclave, Itina Abby, Srinidhi Signature and others. We managed to cover eight. We explained how dangerous it was to use plastic and distributed bookmarks that we had made,” said Sarita Kotagiri, an Association member.

Though most residents were aware of the dangers and ready to discard plastic, they were all faced with a standard problem: They needed plastic bags to dispose of their garbage.

“We tried explaining to them that they could line their bins with newspapers and then throw the garbage outside. Many people agreed,” said Sarita.

BAGS GET BETTER

The other problem was the bags. The association would initially get leftover cloth from tailor shops and turn them into bags which they distributed for a paltry sum. The Association for Promotion of Social Action (APSA), where 25-year-old Sarita is a volunteer, agreed to make the cloth bags.

“When there were complaints that residents would forget their bags and end up using plastic, we kept some bags with the security guards in the apartments so that if residents forgot, they could get it from them.”

Soon, people started complaining that the bags were not very comfortable and they did not like carrying them.

“After getting negative feedback, we decided to shift to non-woven fabric bags, that are both eco-friendly and that can be kept in pockets or laptop bags. It can even be washed. We asked residents to give away their old curtains and bedsheets, which we converted to cloth bags and gave to shopkeepers for home delivery,” said Trupti.

By Gayatri Nair from Bangalore Mirror

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Bangalore: Tanker water all the way

BANGALORE: The Outer Ring Road is dotted with huge high-rises. These sprawling apartments are not covered by the BWSSB yet, and their borewells are drying.

Not just these apartments. The residents of erstwhile City Municipal Councils (CMCs) are yet to get Cauvery water supply. So they totally depend on private suppliers and shell out as much as Rs 8 lakh per month! In the city, residents pay anything between Rs 600 and Rs 1,000 per month.

Most of the apartment complexes on Sarjapur Road, Bellandur junction area, Bannerghatta Road, Whitefield and Marathalli depend on borewell water. But since these wells go dry, the residents and the management of the complexes turn to private water suppliers. Now with the sweltering heat on, the water scarcity has become more pronounced.

“How can the authorities give clearance to these huge apartments without any surety of water supply? BDA had approved the construction of this apartment on the basis of assurance from BWSSB. We purchased the apartment in 2003. BWSSB had assured to give water in 2004. Till date there is no water. We are on a rocky terrain and so cannot access borewell water. All we can do is buy tanker water. We need 70 to 80 tankers every day to sustain these 550 apartments. We know that the sources of the tanker water might not be reliable. But what do we do?,” questions Raj Ramchandani, management committee member, Springfields apartments near Outer Ring Road.

Presently, he is taking help from the local leaders to drill borewells somewhere close by.

There are other apartments too which rely on borewells. “We depend only on borewell water. The BWSSB water supply does not cover our area. Earlier borewellls would yield adequate water. But in eight years, many apartments have come up leading to less pressure. This means our borewells are drying,” says Ashok Ramaswami, president, RWA, Sobha Garnet, on Sarjapur Road.

They have a rainwater recharge system but not a rainwater storage sump yet. With the BWSSB legislation of mandatory rainwater harvesting coming into place, these apartments will have to pull up their socks soon.

The Sun City is another huge apartment block near Sarjapur Road where water shortage looms. With around 1,300 apartments, the consumption is around 10 lakh litres to 12 lakh litres per day. The building authorities are also worried that people are not paying heed to the looming water disaster.

Adding to their woes is eight to nine hours of power cuts. This has the DG sets running for hours to pump water from borewells. “On some days we have to spend as much as Rs 50,000 on diesel to pump water. And we do not charge for water. You can imagine the financial strain,” he said.

The apartments are looking at alternatives. Sobha Garnet has a groundwater recharge system and specific car washing days and timings and marked days for landscaping and gardening. Sun City has a sewage treatment plant (STP) that recycles around 25,000 litres per day which is then used for watering the garden. The private water suppliers are making a killing. When TOI contacted some water tanker suppliers, they quoted anything between Rs 450 and Rs 600 for one load of water tanker supply. They said each tanker holds approximately 6,500 litres of water and can be used by 80 to 100 people.

If one goes by their claim, an apartment complex housing 1,500 families needs on an average 40 tankers, spending Rs 20,000 on water alone per day. This would in turn cost Rs 6 lakh per month for an apartment complex keeping the prices at minimum.

While BWSSB officials maintain that the Litre Per Capita Demand (LPCD) is about 120 litres and they supply around 120 litres in the city, residents complain that the water supply is not adequate. According to Raj Ramchandani, managing committee member of Springfields apartment complex on Outer Ring Road which is mainly dependent on tanker water supply, the water suppliers have formed unions.

NO LAW

The flourishing water supply business has also led to the indiscriminate drilling of borewells. But the authorities are yet to check the rampant private water supply business or the drilling which contributes to the groundwater depletion. A BWSSB official said: “There is no law to restrict private water tanker supply business.

At most the BBMP health officials can take action against them if they supply unhygienic water. The Karnataka Ground Water (Regulation for protection of drinking water sources) draft bill formulated in 1999 is yet to see the light of the day, the official said. The Act proposes to restrict the drilling of borewells within 500 metres of public water source.

From TOI

A weekend of faith and love

BANGALORE: Long weekends offer a welcome respite from the busy and fast-paced life of the average Bangalorean. The ongoing weekend, that kicked off with Shivaratri and includes Valentine’s Day, is the first long one of the year. Many are headed out to popular tourist spots.

“Gokarna, famous for Om beach and the Mahabaleshwar temple that houses a particularly revered Shivalingam, has witnessed tremendous increase in travel bookings,” KSTDC spokesperson Ratnakar said. “People are also going to Nandi Hills,” he added.

Valentine’s Day is another reason for Bangaloreans to hit popular getaways such as Mysore, Kodagu, Hassan and Chikmagalur. Pondicherry and Chennai are the other popular options. Deepthi, a 20-year-old student, said: “A chance like this is rare and I’d like to make the most of it.”

“Resorts, cottages and guesthouses in these places are seeing heavy bookings, especially by families,” added Ratnakar. The fact that there are no special packages available for the occasion doesn’t seem to make a difference.

Many students are taking a break to visit places like Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary and Bheemeshwari’s Cauvery Fishing Camp. “This weekend is a great opportunity to enjoy a trip outside the city with friends,” said Gaurav, a student of PESIT. He is off to Goa with friends.

Shreya Jain and Aparajita Mridha – TOI

Bangalore: Lakes held to ransom

An significant increase in lake pollution due to sewage and waste discharge from the Bangalore Central Jail has become a matter of grave concern for the residents of Kudlu Village, Anekal Taluk .

The 9,000 residents of this village once depended on the Kudlu lake and the adjoining Parappana Agrahara lake for their daily drinking water supply but the pollution caused by the jail has made it virtually impossible for them to get clean water. Their pleas to the authorities have fallen on deaf ears .

“In the first two years after the jail was relocated here in 1997, there was no such problem, but after that, we started seeing the change,” says Chikkamuniyappa, former member of the local gram panchayat. He said that before the jail relocated, they depended on these lakes for their drinking and daily water needs. But now the stink is so revolting that they can barely stand next to the lake .

Chikkamuniappa said, “Two years back, former chairman of the village panchayat Babu Raj had reported this matter to the jail superintendent and also to the forest department .

Though we were promised that a suitable action would be taken, no such thing has happened.” “We used to see a variety of birds on these lakes but in the past 10 years, the bird population has dwindled significantly,” says Jagadeesh, a local resident. There used to be tortoises and plenty of trees around the lakes, but nothing is left since the central jail and the silk factory started dumping acids and chemicals in them. The forest department has no care towards this lake,” Jagadeesh said .

Rohan D’Souza, Senior Research Associate at ATREE (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment) said, “The whole chain is polluted as all the lakes are interconnected.” The pollution starts at Parappana Agrahara lake, flows into Kudlu lake and from there into Haralur lake and then on to Kasavanahalli lake and into Kaikondrahalli lake and finally into Varthur lake .

Rohan said, “Pollution of Kudlu and Parappana Agrahara have increased of late from two main sources, sewage and other waste from the recently relocated Central Jail, and from the stormwater drain which also brings in sewage from Hosa Road, which meets Hosur Road.” According to Rohan, the locals never had their sanitary lines or their sewage directed to lakes. This was done in soak pits outside individual houses. So the sewage entering the lakes is a more recent phenomenon and fallouts of a particular type of urbanisation .

He added, “The impacts are on the quality of water, which to some extent replenishes the groundwater of surrounding areas, including Kudlu village. These areas don’t get Cauvery water but depend heavily on ground water for household needs.” When contacted, a senior official of BBMP said, “The lake you are referring to does not come under our jurisdiction but is the responsibility of the forest department. There are currently 23 lakes to be maintained by us and Parappana Agrahara and Kudlu do not come under it.” However, the BBMP website shows that Kudlu lake comes under their jurisdiction and it was last inspected on July 15 2009, wherein the lake status was shown as clear water .

Speaking to , Deputy Forest Officer, Bangalore Circle, Devaraj, said, “We are taking a step-by-step action to clean the lakes and by next year we will completely rejuvenate them.”

From Express Buzz

Bangalore: Vision document on irrigation by next week

BANGALORE: A vision statement on the irrigation projects to be taken on a priority basis over the next decade is being brought out by the State Water Resources Department. Also, irrigation projects are being subject to scrutiny on quality parameters.

Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Monday said that the vision document will be released in about a week.

The Quality Assurance Cell to be specially constituted will comprise experts from Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB).

The estimate of the money required for the pending irrigation projects in the Krishna and Cauvery basis stands at Rs 45,000 crore.

The specific aspects of implementation and the expected expenditure on each of the projects will be detailed in the statement, Bommai said.

On quality assurance the minister said that electronic meters are being used in projects in the Ghataprabha basin.

On an experimental basis, electronic metering is already undertaken on the Ghataprabha main canal and its distributaries, Bommai said and noted that Malaysia is among the countries which has successfully implemented the electronic metering scheme in irrigation projects.

These electronic meters can send: about 120 SMSes per second; details on the quality and availability of water at a various points along the route may be gathered at one go, he explained.

Meanwhile, the minister said that much of the cultivable land in the state will be irrigated by June.

About 1.25 lakh acres were irrigated last year: 55,000 acres in the Upper Tunga belt, 12,000 acres in the Cauvery basin and the rest in Krishna – Godavari belt, he explained.

From Express Buzz

Bangalore: Govt plans new irrigation tanks in Krishna basin

BANGALORE: The government proposes to construct at least 500 new minor irrigation tanks in the River Krishna basin, Minister for Minor Irrigation Govind Karjol said on Friday.  

Speaking to reporters, he said that the envisaged number includes tanks and barrages. The department has appealed for a budgetary allocation of Rs 1,000 crore for the same. The total cost estimate is about Rs 4,000 crore, he said.  

Of the Rs 57 crore that was allotted for the purpose in 2009-10, Rs 46 core had been released, he said. Karjol noted that there was no scope for construction of new tanks in the Cauvery basin as the state had exhausted its allocated share.  

Identification of tank bed encroachments and steps to clear them were on across the state and in the jurisdiction of urban local bodies like City Corporations, he said. The department has reiterated its stand that local bodies should take responsibility for its water bodies, Karjol said

From ExpressBuzz

Bangalore: Trailing tigers people join census

BANGALORE: This Friday begins the search for the big cats in Karnataka. The census of tigers, co-predators, prey and their habitats will be carried out in all forest areas across the state from January 22 to 27. However, this year the census will be different with very high interface between general public or enthusiasts and the forest department. Two to three enthusiasts will accompany forest guards in each of their trails.

They would not just sight the wild animals like sambars and elephants but may even get a glimpse of the tiger, for which people wait for a lifetime.

There are 2,819 beats (tracks which are monitored by forest watchers) in Karnataka. There is already huge excitement among the enthusiasts who have flooded the forest department office with application forms.

The demand for applications, according to additional principal chief conservator of forests B K Singh, is very high for Nagarahole, Bandipur, Bhadra and Biligiriranga Swamy Temple (BRT) Wildlife Sanctuary.

“I am going to Bhadra for the census. I am keen to go because I wanted to experience the forests, more than just a tourist experience. I am realistic enough to understand that I might not sight a tiger. But in my small way I want to contribute something to wildlife,” said a software engineer Vijay Singh who is also a member of the wildlife enthusiasts group, Vanya.

On January 22, 23 and 24, the Carnivore Sign Encounter Rate will be surveyed. It is to quantify the abundance of tigers, leopards, sloth bears and other carnivores. The signs to look out for will be pugmark trails, scats, scrapes, rake marks on trunks, vocalization and actual sighting. It is the most important survey, so two volunteers have been allotted with one forest guard.

On January 25, 26, 27, the sampling for ungulate (animals with hooves) encounter rates will be done along a transect line. A record would be made of all herbivores seen during this process, the time of sighting, the species (sambar, chital, wild pig others), the size of the herd and the forest or terrain type. On all three days, the volunteers on their way back, will document the pellets of these ungulates.

They will also do a vegetation and a grass survey because the space occupied by the grass is directly proportionate to the presence of ungulates or prey species.

“We have tried to make the system more transparent this year, and there has been overwhelming response from enthusiasts and youngsters. Though we got too many applications, we tried not to decline anyone’s application,” added Singh.

* After the surveys are completed, results will be sent to Wildlife Institute of India whose officials will then inspect and verify data again

* Census results will be out after four to five months

* Volunteers don’t have to be wildlife experts. They should be able to write and count

From TOI