Gollahalli lake in Electronic city has lost 2.11 acres to an illegally built road. Despite orders, the road still stands intact thanks to the timely call by the then Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa.

Road that encroaches on the Gollahalli lake. Pic: Sankar C G

The then Tehsildar Mallikarjuna ordered the road to be dismantled in 2010. The road, which covers about one-fourth of the 9.2-acre Golahalli Lake, is still in use today.  

According to the records obtained through RTI, survey number 15 is a lakebed and it belongs to the government. However, a road was constructed in 2007. The lake has been reduced to 7.09 acres from its original 9.2 acres. Earlier, villagers used the lake water for fishing, irrigation and washing clothes.

"The lake water was pure, we used to drink it. But after the road construction started, the water became muddy and the fish began to die," says Leela, a local resident. "More than fifty people come here daily for washing clothes in this muddy water. They don't have any other option," says another resident.

Road that encroaches on the Gollahalli lake. Pic: Sankar C G

The residents had complained to the Tehsildar in 2009, B Mallikarjuna and there was no action from him.  The residents then approached the District Commissioner R S Basaappa, who ordered Mallikarjuna and Taluk Panchayat executive to immediately submit a report on the issue.

After investigations, the Tehsildar found out that the land belongs to the government and that private companies cannot use it for their commercial purposes. After receiving the reports, District Commissioner ordered a task force to dismantle the road immediately.

However, the road still stands. According to the RTI information released by the District Commissioner, the task force came with excavators to break the road but they had to stop the work within half an hour, as the then chief minister of Karnataka, B S Yeddyurappa called in and ordered to stop the work immediately.

Document showing that the lake bed is actually 9.2 acres. Pic: Sankar C G. (Click to view large size image)

Yeddyurappa, in his verbal order, apparently cited the village residents' request to keep the road intact.

Villagers are forced to use muddy waters. Pic: Sankar C G

Lawmakers however feel the Chief Minister has no overriding authority in this matter. "I know the issue; it is an absolute violation of law. Chief minister doesn't have any such exceptional right to take such decision," says B T Venkatesh, a Bangalore based advocate.  

It is not clear however as to who actually built the road. Residents of the village point to a construction company, Patel Engineering Limited. The firm, for its part, denies it built the  road. "We have not constructed any road over there, we only maintained an existing road, as the villagers were using it," says a highly placed official at Patel Engineering.

The current Tehisldar Shive Gowda took charge six months ago and promises action if there are violations. "Covering lake for any kind of work is a criminal offense. If any such case is found we will take action against them under section 192A of Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964," he says.