Methane, Phosphate Behind Bangalore’s Bellandur Lake Fire: Experts

Bellandur Lake in Bangalore that caught fire on May 16 for over 5 minutes was due to garment factories’ effluents released into the waters, confirmed a team of IISc.

The Bellandur lake is in the neighbourhood of posh HSR Layout in Bangalore with several garment factories and jeans manufacturers located in the vicinity and the problem of effluents let out in the lake was an old story and froth is almost ever-present for many years in the lake.

Prof TV Ramachandra from Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES) said the formation of froth due to pollutants mixed into the water which forms into foam owing to winds and rains. In his paper on waste in wetlands of Bangalore due to inefficient checks, he said the fire would have resulted from the ignition of phosphate left in the effluents combined with the methane accumulated from the microbes from the stagnant waste as froth on its own could not catch fire.

Bangalore has three major lakes — Varthur, Bellandur and Challaghatta, which receive about 500 million litres of untreated waste daily and the condition has been worsening in the last few years without proper waste disposal system.

However, the immediate effect for May 16 fire in the lake was due to blocking of one of the two canals by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) to construct a bridge. Another canal measuring 64-feet was almost encroached upon, virtually leaving no outlet for the waste to go out of the lake, causing methane formation in due course.

Karnataka Board of Pullution Control in-charge in Bommanahalli Mr. Sidda Ramaiah had explained it immediately citing the methane gas generated by microbes in the lake. “The flammable gas had accumulated in the lake and had apparently combusted. This is the first time we are hearing of this in the city,” he said, which was reiterated by the IISc team.


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