Residents want Baggundi spread over 40-acres to be developed like Pilikula

For the first time in his several visits, 60-year-old Annappa Salian did not get sarkari and madenji (the popular variety of fish) or turtle in Baggundi — the big water body — largely invaded by hyacinth.

“This is the first time we are returning empty handed,” said Mr. Annappa, who was among 100-odd residents of Kulai came to 40-acre Baggundi pond on Friday — the day of Meena Sankramana.

By tradition, Kulai residents come to the Baggundi pond on Meena Sankramana for fishing to appease the local daiva (spirit) Babbuswamy. The delicacies made out of the catch are served on plantain leaf and offered to members in each of the household in the locality. Those who are not able to catch, buy fish or turtle from persons who landed a catch. .

On Friday morning, residents entered the pond after bursting crackers at the Babbuswamy temple. The residents, who were split in several groups, could not catch even a single fish or a turtle. “It is difficult to catch fish when you have dense growth of hyacinth,” says Deepak Kulai, another resident.

The people now want to save the pond. “We want to retain this water body that attracts rare birds. We also want to continue the tradition of catching fish every year,” says Gaurav Hegde, another resident, who heads the Nagarika Samiti, Surathkal Kulai ward. He also has a collection of photographs of the birds that visit the pond.

When the pond overflows, the waters join a stream Kudumbu and flows into the Gurupura River. A major part of the lake has been acquired by the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board in 1996. As the industry to which the land had been allotted did not set up its unit, the KIADB decided to return the land. With this order challenged in a court, no action is taken to remove hyacinth, Mr. Hegde says.

Seeking development of the pond on the lines of Pilikula, Yagnesh Aithal, another resident, said, “This will be the only way to retain this water body and continue with our yearly traditional fishing.”

More In: Mangaluru