Sky Of Smoke, Lake On Fire: Bengaluru Drivers Swerved, Firemen Stunned

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A fire that erupted last evening on Bengaluru’s Bellandur Lake, letting off a huge cloud of smoke that caused drivers to swerve dangerously, has provoked a wave of anger among its residents.

“Shocking apathy and serious neglect,” said industrialist Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, tweeting report on the massive fire. Ms Mazumdar Shaw heads a citizen’s group that has taken up the rising pollution levels in Bengaluru.

But the size of the fire yesterday stumped even experts.

“The fire is because of dry grass. Not pollutants. It was white smoke,” said senior fire officer Ravi Chauhan today.

The rolling clouds of smoke served as a major impediment for those driving on the roads nearby, as well as firemen.

“We got a call around 5.15 pm. Our unit reached there and put out the fire. It was difficult to get there since it was sinking because of silt,” said KU Ramesh, Deputy Director, Fire and Emergency Services.

The fire, it is believed, began in the clumps of dry hyacinth and weed around the lake at about 4 pm. Residents of apartment buildings – the lake is surrounded by high-rises – allege that weeds and dry grass are regularly burnt in the area without supervision by garbage collectors. Experts say it’s not clear yet if the toxic chemicals that are poured into the lake which covers nearly 4 km served as a dangerous amplifier.

“The problem has got complex over years, we have issued notices and scrutinized 650 apartments. The civic bodies have assured us they will stop sewage,” Lakshman, chairman of the Karnataka Pollution Control Board said.

Bellandur and Varthur are the two major lakes in Bengaluru. Both have been ruined because of the constant dumping of untreated sewage and toxic chemicals and detergents from small factories.

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