Two originally 40-odd acre lakes, with two concerned citizens’ groups. Two Lal Bahadur Shastri Nagars, near two airports.
Two citizen events:
Vibhutipura Lake – Saturday 14th Dec 2013, 9 a.m. onwards; Walkathon to increase awareness about the lake and garner support for the completion of its rejuvenation. More details here.
Allalasandra Lake – Sunday 15th Dec 2013, 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.; Shramadhaana involving cleaning the periphery of the lake of all physical garbage and planting trees next to the pathway; Hon’ble Justice Sri Hulavadi G. Ramesh, Judge, High Court of Karnataka who has a keen interest in environmental issues will be present; Breakfast will be served. More details in the poster below.
There are more similarities. Similar physical shape. Similar challenges.
The Vibhutipura Lake story
In 2006, “Uthkarsh”, a residents’ group of the LB Shastri Nagar was formed, with the charter, “to mobilize LBS Nagar residents and government officials to improve the quality of life in the locality”. As time went by, they noticed the deterioration of Vibhutipura Lake, so a lake team was formed to pursue the Forest Department (the custodians of the lake at that time) and the Government, to do something to save the lake. In about 2011, the lake was handed over to the BDA. The Uthkarsh lake team kept pressurising the MLA and the Government to work on the lake. In order to show the support of people for rejuvenation of the lake, Uthkarsh organised a walkathon ‘Save the lake’ on 3rd Nov 2012. It was well attended by around 500 people, BDA/ BBMP officials, MLA and Corporator. Soon after, the Uthkarsh lake team felt the need for a dedicated group to work with officials for the lake, and that is how VIKAS came to be formed, formally registered as a trust in December 2012. Now there are about 100 people who volunteer their services for the trust. Restoration by the BDA began in Feb 2013.
VIKAS has been in regular contact with the different bodies/ people involved in lake development, including BDA/ BMMP officials, contractor and his staff, MLA, Corporator, local leaders around the lake. Importantly, it has been interacting with people in layouts around the lake to increase awareness and sensitivity towards the lake. It has tried to solve the problems and remove the hurdles that periodically hinder the progress of lake rejuvenation. For example:
* Taking up the issue of illegal burial in the lake premises with the Tehsildar
* Diverting the sewage from the areas around the lake so that it does not enter the lake with the help of BWSSB
* Rescuing snakes which had made homes in the lake with local support
* Taking up security issues the lake contractor faced with HAL police.
In future VIKAS is looking to expand the group to include more interested people from the lake surroundings. It is also trying to ensure that the rejuvenation is done properly and as per the Detailed Project Report. After the completion of the work, it wants to maintain the lake, making it a place for community bonding and where the old and young can appreciate nature.
The Allalasandra Lake story
In 2009, the Allalasandra lake bed was dryland. BBMP restored the lake in 2010-11, and the work done included fencing the lake area, desilting the lake bed, building a pathway, and installation of benches and lights. There is a steel bridge across the lake, connecting Yelahanka New Town to Allalasandra. As with Vibhutipura Lake, new constructions, sewage inflow and neglect resulted in the abandonment of the lake area by the general public. With no one to maintain it, the place started being used by unruly elements. A couple of months ago, some residents from the neighbourhood came together with the objective of doing something to save the lake, and they started engaging with the BBMP and BWSSB. YUVA was officially launched in November 2013. YUVA volunteers are regularly spending time to spruce up the area themselves. On 24th November, a Walk for the Environment was held, during which time about 100 participants helped in cleaning the area around the lake. All the lights along the pathway have been fixed, so people are able to spend time at the lake in the evenings, after sunset as well. School children have started visiting the lake, and the birds have also started returning.
Jobs that YUVA is looking to get done in the near future include:
* Diversion of sewage flowing in through the storm water drain inlets, from 4th Phase and Judicial colony (With many of the houses/ buildings not connected to the under-ground sewage lines, the sewage is illegally let into the storm water drains that feed the lake.)
* Desilting of the lake bed deweeding (The lake is filled with water hyacinth.)
* Handling the encroachments on tank areas (Over 4 acres of the lake area is already encroached.)
* Improving and creating a habitat for water birds (Currently over 20 types of birds have been spotted regularly in the lake area.)
* Creating a garden area around the lake area and pathway
* Eliminating the foul smell around the lake
* Providing better facilities for joggers and walkers
* Getting round-the-clock security.
For more information on Allalasandra Lake, YUVA and the 15th December event, please contact Jagadeesh Giri <JJgiri@yahoo.com>, 9845171449 / visit the YUVA website.
Thanks to Shubha Priya Srinivasan of VIKAS and Jagadeesh Giri of YUVA for the information provided for this post, and for the pictures.