BENGALURU: More than 1,000 families were affected and over 300 cars submerged after the bund of Hulimavu lake, off Bannerghatta Road, south Bengaluru, breached on Sunday, sending water gushing into at least half-a-dozen localities in its neighbourhood.
Preliminary probe said an overzealous contractor who had undertaken works in the lake without taking precautionary measures was responsible for the breach. The contractor, reportedly linked to a few politicians, had gone ahead with the civic works without a green signal from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, which is the custodian of Hulimavu lake since 2016.
The magnitude of the man-made breach was such that basements of most apartment complexes in localities near the lake were flooded. Around 12.30pm, water started flowing out from a small opening made in the bund. In 30 minutes, a portion of the embankment gave way. By 3pm, water gushed into areas as far as 2km from the lake, affecting thousands of people.
Arekere (ward 193) corporator Bhagyalakshmi Murali told: “I was told a contractor had taken up development activities around the lake over the past two days and had tried to drain it by making a small hole in the bund. The contractor had said he would place sandbags so that the water would not enter residential areas and flow towards storm drain. However, he disappeared after the breach.”
Chaos and panic gripped the affected areas after the water level started rising by evening. Many residents abandoned their homes and escaped to safety along with family members, including children and senior citizens. Around 2,000 personnel from different departments, including National Disaster Response Force and civil defence, were pressed into rescue and-relief operations.
BBMP shifted displaced families to three rehabilitation centres Bhagyalakshmi said she was kept in the dark about the lake work.
BBMP commissioner BH Anil Kumar said, “We don’t know how the lake breached, but three theories are doing the rounds: A private contractor had taken up work without authorization; fishermen damaged the bund; and BDA was at work. We’ve filed an FIR with the local police and want police to probe the breach.”
This is the lake’s third breach since 2011. The lake was with Bangalore Development Authority before it came under BBMP in 2016. In the past three years, the civic agency had not paid attention to the lake’s upkeep.
Bommanahalli MLA Satish Reddy turned the spotlight on the lake and called for a review meeting. It was decided to develop the lake at a cost of
10 crore —6 crore from BBMP and the rest from the MLA local area fund. The breach occurred before the tender process could be started.
BBMP shifted displaced families to newly opened three rehabilitation centres.