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Updated: November 21, 2012 15:52 IST

Harnessing the power of collective will

MADHAVI SHIVAPRASAD
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Keen on revival: The youngsters in the neighbourhood of the Narsipura lakes on Vidyaranyapura Main Road plan to keep a biodiversity register to catalogue the species of birds and animals found there. Photo: Karan Ananth
The Hindu Keen on revival: The youngsters in the neighbourhood of the Narsipura lakes on Vidyaranyapura Main Road plan to keep a biodiversity register to catalogue the species of birds and animals found there. Photo: Karan Ananth

Vidyaranyapura residents around the Narasipura lakes have joined hands to revive the water bodies

Few know of the Narasipura lakes that lie on either side of the Vidyaranyapura Main Road except, of course, the long-time residents of the area. Like most lakes in the city, particularly the large Doddabommasandra lake in the area, the Narasipura lakes too have fallen into ruin, but the residents here are keen to revive them.At present, significant efforts are coming to fruition with regard to the larger, 15.35 acre lake, while work on the smaller one will be undertaken soon, according to sources.

“When J.H. Patel was Chief Minister, the Forest Department started a boat club for the people. However, even then, the lake had not been very popular,” said S. Prakash, vice-president of the BEL Layout Residents’ Welfare Association.

Contamination

According to him, the lake started getting contaminated by untreated waste water that flowed in from the nearby sewage treatment plant and, eventually, the boat club was shut down. “We are told that the plant will soon stop functioning completely,” he said.

About a year-and-a-half ago, after receiving several complaints about mosquito infestation and foul smell, the welfare association decided to take matters into their own hands and approached the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, requesting them to revive the lake. “We wanted to revive the lake and make it more environment-friendly. All of us here, including young boys and girls, have shown support for our initiative,” said the general secretary, G.S. Natarajan.

According to local councillor Nandini Srinivas, “almost 70 per cent of the work is complete. In addition to a walking track around the periphery of the lake, we are also planning to build a children’s park and a place for the immersion of Ganesh idols,” she said.

Water activist S. Vishwanath sees a way to keep the lake going without having to shut down the waste treatment plant. “In order to protect surface water bodies, we need to keep them perennially full. This also keeps them relatively cleaner as it checks unwarranted garbage disposal on the lake bed. But since most of our lakes are rain-fed, this is possible only by letting properly treated water into it. If the sewage plant is upgraded, it could be utilised for this purpose,” he says.

Efforts lauded

Brijesh Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forests, in charge of lakes, forests and horticulture, commended the efforts made by the residents. “Bangalore has about 200 lakes, several in various stages of ruin. The Narasipura lakes are some of the few in the city that are actively seeing efforts from residents for their conservation,” Mr. Kumar said.

“As government officials, we are not able to monitor the progress of development as much as we’d like. The residents then serve as our eyes, our force multipliers. When our efforts go awry, they communicate it to us,” he added.

Everyone contributes

So how do the children do their bit?

The youngsters in the neighbourhood have come together in an informal group they call ‘Pancharatna Plus’. If anyone spots a bird or animal in the locality, they take pictures and upload them on their Facebook page. They have also rescued several animals, handing them over to the forest officials to be let out into safer habitats.

Rachana Deshpande, a Media student, said: “I know how to recognise a moorhen when I see one now, and we want others people also to know about the commonly found species here. We are planning to keep a biodiversity register which catalogues all these species.”

“After having joined Pancharatna Plus, I learnt a lot about the urban ecology. Bangalore needs to live up to its title of garden city and this is what we’re working at,” said Chinmayi P.S., an Environment Studies student.

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