Karanji Lake set to regain its glory

Mysore Jan. 28. The Karanji Lake, which was on the verge of eutrophication, is set to regain its past glory if the results of the conservation initiatives taken by the zoo authorities are any indication. The birds have come back, indicating improvement in the habitat. More than 1,000 of these winged beauties of different species have arrived at the Karanji Lake to roost, nestle, and breed. These include grey pelican, painted storks, grey heron, and little cormorants. The return of the winged beauties can be attributed to the restoration of the lake undertaken by the Mysore Zoo. The increase in pollution and absence of fresh water supply accompanied by presence of weeds had forced the birds to desert the lake in the absence of prey. A large congregation of birds was last witnessed almost 10 years ago, and their numbers dwindled over the years. The restoration was taken up a few months ago with funds from the Asian Development Bank which had proposed a project to revive five major lakes in the city. The Mysore Lake Protection Society was constituted and the project implementing agencies were identified for the purpose. Apart from the Karanji Lake, restoration of Kukkarahalli, Lingambudhi, Devanoor, and Dalvai lakes was also taken up. Since the Karanji Lake is under the control of the zoo, funds were forthcoming and the results are obvious. Kumar Pushkar, Executive Director of Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, said a few important measures such as stoppage of sewage water and removal of weeds were major factors in the revival of the lake. The zoo authority also released fingerlings into the lake, and this has led to an increase in the number of birds. "The birds have returned to the lake after seven years, and some small measures have made a big impact in the restoration of the water body,'' Mr. Pushkar said.

The zoo authorities will restrict the entry of the public, and only 200 persons will be allowed to get inside the lake premises a day so that the birds are not disturbed. Those interested may apply to the Executive Director of the Zoo for permission. The entry into the lake will be free of cost between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

However, the other major lakes of Mysore, including the Kukkarahalli and Lingambudhi, continue to totter on the brink of eutrophication. The Kukkarahalli Lake, which is in the heart of the city, is an ideal habitat for roosting birds due to relative tranquillity. But this vast expanse of water continues to remain neglected due to the apathy of the University of Mysore and the city corporation. What is intriguing is that a blueprint to revive and restore the past glory of the two lakes already exists and no fresh groundwork or studies need to be undertaken. Sources said though funds were not a problem, leadership and initiative were lacking. Environmentalists hope that the results at the Karanji Lake may propel similar initiatives to restore the other four lakes in the city.

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