Shramdan on Ambalipura (lower) lake bed started at around 9:45 am on Sunday, September 19th. Residents from our Bellandur ward started coming to the lake bund from 9 am. First to arrive at lake was special invitee Dr Ashwin Mahesh, Ramesh Sivaram from Rainbow Residency and Satheesh Amilineni from Green Glen Layout.
The volunteers discussed for a while on how to tackle the weeds and which equipment to use.
Soon, the volunteers got into lake bed at around 9:45am and started weeding. The plan was to start from one side and proceed towards other side and cover a big rectangular area. Water depth was about one and a half feet at the shore and gradually increased to 3 feet when we moved towards the center of the lake.
Each volunteer on the front line got pricked and bruised by thorns and sharp stones. Volunteers had to clear the thorns, thermacol, plastic covers and glass bottles apart from the grass.
Initially it was easy for volunteers to throw the waste grass on to the shore from lake bed. Later the found it tough to throw the waste when we started moving away from the shore. Some experienced members like Ramesh Sivaram and Rajesh Rao got the idea of forming human chains to pass the plucked grass to the shore. Another successful idea was using of tubs. When grass was plucked it was put on to a floating tub. Filled floating tubs were passed back to the shore in human chain.
After one point, tubs were not of use as the grass size increased from two feet to five feet. Some of the grass trees weighed more than 2 kgs and were more than four feet tall.
Members came up with innovative ways of passing on the plucked grass using broken logs and pushing floating grass to the shore in human chain. Young children also entered the water and went along with the adults towards center of the lake. I remember Baby Era and Master Siddarth were so active in the human chain and appeared enjoying themselves, as if it was the opportunity of a lifetime.
Biscuits and tea was served a few times to all volunteers in the human chain during weeding operation and all the volunteers glowed with satisfaction after seeing the portion of the lake bed got cleaned.
End of a long morning, we could see we had covered about 20% of the lake area in a rectangular shape towards the entrance of the lake.
Some RSS members from Vivekananda School Shakha, Kaikondrahalli also joined the activity and it wouldn’t have been successful without some labour arranged by Rajesh Rao, active member of Forward 150 from Trinity Acres and Woods. In fact it was the latter’s idea and taken forward with strong determination by other active members of the federation.
At the end of the operation, it was declared that Ashwini operating from front line was the most energetic volunteer and she got a round of applause.
Discussion on future course of action among active members of FORward150 went on till 12:45pm. It was decided to continue the operation for 1 or 2 days of 3-4 hours each during weekends to remove grass from remaining portion of the lake bed. Later everybody left to their homes for a good shower and lunch.