Bengaluru: At Bengaluru’s 1,000-acre Bellandur Lake, infamous for pollution and toxic foam, a massive fire broke out this afternoon. It took more than 5,000 army personnel and fire-fighting equipment to bring the fire that raged for seven hours under control.
Videos of the fire show thick black smoke rising in the sky above the lake.
Later in the evening, the fire started again at two places in the lake, which is Bengaluru’s largest. No loss to life or property has been reported.
Army personnel are still alert to prevent the fire spreading into the army and adjoining civil area.
“One of our personnel was bitten by a snake while he was trying to douse off the fire as snakes and many reptiles came out due to heat. The soldier is out of danger and being treated,” Major General Narpat Singh Rajpurohit, Commandant of the ASC Centre told NDTV.
One officer attached with the state fire and emergency services said that they were informed in the evening. Immediately a jet fighter engine which can throw water upto 300 metres was rushed to the spot.
Bellandur Lake made big news last year when in August it spewed out so much toxic foam that residents living nearby complained they had to stay indoors. The lake had also caught fire last year.
The National Green Tribunal had directed the Karnataka government to fix the lakes last year, but there has been no solution yet. The Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), which is the custodian of the lakes, has been working to remove weeds and is using high-power pumps and coir foam mattresses and other filtering techniques to stop the frothing, but to little impact.
Experts from Britain and Israel have visited to study the problem and they say that the solution is simple – stop pouring pollutants into the lakes.
Bellandur Lake, the largest of the 262 lakes and tanks in Bengaluru, receives about 40 per cent of the city’s sewage.
The Environment Ministry had said in 2016 that everyday about 1,280 million litres of sewage is generated in Bengaluru, while the city’s infrastructure has the capacity to handle only 721 million litres of sewage.
Since 137 out of 500 sewage treatment plants are defunct, only 600 million litres sewage is treated and the rest goes to the lakes.
The central government had in April 2016 said that it would invest Rs. 800 crore to rejuvenate the lakes in Bengaluru, especially the Bellandur Lake.