North India, especially Delhi and Himachal Pradesh, has witnessed unprecedented rainfall over the past few days.

This excessive rainfall has caused floods, waterlogging, and devastation. Activists say that many of these problems are man-made.

Down south in Bengaluru, many experts point to the encroachment of stormwater drains as the reason for the flooding in the city.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) identified 1,988 encroachments on stormwater drains (SWD) in 2020.

But it was only in September 2022 that the authorities started clearing the properties on the SWDs.

Retired captain Santhosh Kumar has been working on clearing encroachments on SWDs for the past few years.

The ex-army officer started observing that the lake near his house in Muthanallur, Anekal, was not getting full despite normal rains.

He started gathering data between 2017 and 2019. On studying it, he realised that the cause for lakes not getting filled was encroachment or non-existence of stormwater drains.

Since then, he has revived 14 lakes. He says that even 1,000-year-old lakes maintained themselves well until people started encroaching on them.

“These lakes were built during the Chola period. The lakes and drains survived all these years. Due to construction and developmental activities, the drains are encroached on.”

Santosh adds that when people encroach on drains, they overlook the fact that water has a memory. If you redirect or construct over a drain, it will reclaim its area during heavy rainfall.

“We need to protect our rajakaluves. We need to ensure that good-quality drains are built. The floods also prove that mere rejuvenation of lakes without maintaining drains is of no use,” he says.