Thirsty Lalbagh Garden guzzling Bangalore’s ground water

Undercapacity sewage water treatment plant in Lalbagh forces authorities to use borewell water to irrigate garden

By Shubhankar Chakravorty

The gardeners and workers at Lalbagh currently have to use mainly bore well water by order to water the plants across the 240 acres park.

BANGALORE (Feb. 9)—A wastewater treatment plant that is supposed to provide over 2.2 million liters of water daily to Lalbagh Botanical Garden, is operating below capacity and one-third to half of the water needed to water the garden is being taken from borewells.

The sewage water treatment plant that was set up by the Bangalore Development Authority in 2004 in the garden has largely been unsuccessful in providing water for the garden’s lawns and trees.

With the maximum capacity of the sewage water treatment plant being 1.5 million liters per day, the remaining minimum 700,000 liters needs to be pumped from bore wells every day, fast depleting the ground water source in the cit

A garden of mismanagement

Lalbagh Botanical Garden appears to have become a den of mismanagement. The park is considerably understaffed and is managed by only 80-85 gardeners and other staff.These 80 people are divided under six sections and are struggling to cope up with the pressure of maintaining the park.

Raju, who head one of the six sections, said: “The number of people working has gone down a lot after the workers retired, and there have not been any further appointment of workers by the government, despite need.”

Also, five facilities for providing cold purified drinking water was set up in the park jointly by the park authorities and Zero-B, a private company, but it has been shut down due to maintenance and repairing problems.

B. Ramesh, a regular jogger at the park, said: “There was cold purified drinking water available for a very short span of time. Now one visiting the park has to carry bottles of mineral water.”

“There have been some maintenance problems with the Zero-B water stations, but we have provided with alternate tapped drinking water facilities around the park,” Krishnappa said. “The Zero-B water-cooling purifying machines being imported, the company people came to repair but failed in doing so, we do not have the spares and resources to fix them.”

Now, drinking water is made available through taps in 10 places around the park. But the water is neither purified nor cold.

“Due of shortage of sewage water, mainly during the summers, the plant can’t supply enough water to the park,” said H. M. Krishnappa, deputy director, horticulture, at Lalbagh Botanical Gardens. “The plant is the main source, but due to water scarcity we have around 40 borewells around the park that provides for the park’s water requirement.”

About the concerns of the ground water level going down, Krishnappa said: “We are only concerned about the botanical gardens and during shortage of sewage water to purify we have to turn to additional sources.”

T. George, a veteran visitor to the park told The SoftCopy: “We have always been seeing the lawns being watered with pipes connected to the borewells around the park.”

The park is spread over 240 acres in the heart of the city. The sewage water plant was built in the park to clean and reuse wastewater, thereby reducing the park’s requirement for borewell water. But it has only been partially successful.

“We have to water the entire of 240 acres of the park every day, and now mainly we are using borewell water for the purpose,” said V.C. Raju, a lawn staff at the garden.

Krishnappa also ruled out plans of setting up any additional unit of the waste water purifying plant as it is a capital intensive affair. The last one was set up by the BDA and is maintained by the government.

(Published in The SoftCopy)

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