Thousands of acres of lake lands in Bengaluru have suffered the most at the hands of encroachment. Concrete houses, cultivation by farmers, metro, and increase in population have significantly contributed to the plundering of natural resources.
One of them is the Bathalakere lake near Anekal in southeast Bengaluru. The citizens took it upon themselves to reclaim the lost 4.5-km-long channel and make it functional to carry water into the lake downstream, Times of India reported.
Residents' & Administration's Coordination
The collaborative work between the citizens, who supervised and executed the plan, and district administration with logistical support has resulted in the Bathalakere lake brimming with water. It now receives water from the gravitational flow from Muthalanur lake.
This effective partnership between the two has set an example of how such projects of saving lakes could be implemented easily.
"The water received from Muthalanur lake was supposed to overflow to Bidaruguppe lake before entering Tamil Nadu. But due to so many encroachments, the water drains have disappeared," a resident, said Capt Santosh Kumar, reported The Times of India.
The 43-year-old has been running a campaign for saving lakes for the last four years in Anekal taluk and has successfully protected over a dozen water bodies in the district.
"The first challenge was to recreate the network of water channels which encroachers had taken over. We wrote to the CM and other departments, collected old maps with lakes and water channels, included survey department officials, and started tracing the water bodies on the ground," explained Kumar, who headed the work as a project manager, according to The Times of India.
The team completed the project with less than ₹50 lakh. Kumar said the amount would have multiplied to ₹2 crores, had it been executed by a contractor.
Initiating The Movement
The residents of seven villages around the lake joined the cause under the Bruhat Muthanalur Residents' Forum and other voluntary organisations.
The movement came to the attention of Deputy Commissioner J Manjunath, who then conducted surveys and marking boundaries for the water channel.
The residents' association and other kind donors rented excavators and other earth-digging equipment for the work. The work began in March this year and was completed in July.
The restored water bodies have been handed over to the district administration. The team is now looking forward to creating a 1.5-km water channel from Bathalakere to Bidaruguppe lake, the media reported.