Background of the issue
In recent times, the lakes in Bengaluru have occupied headlines in newspapers and primetime news.
Chunchaghatta lake, 22 acres, feeds Sarakki lake and the downstream of Kothnur lake. The Karnataka government has allocated Rs 6 crore for the revival of Sarakki lake, while neglecting the Chunchaghatta lake. Thanks to the inefficient municipality, now the condition of Chunchaghatta lake has been quite bad. The lake is covered with water hyacinth, garbage from near by residential complexes and sewerage.
The residents of 195, Konanakunte ward, Bengaluru, where Chunchaghatta is located, started an initiative called Friends of Lake – Chunchughatta Kere and took matters into their hands to clean up the lake. They have been cleaning the lake for the past 10 months, starting June 2016. The residents have raised Rs 30,000.
Ridhi Jayaprakash, 12, has always been volunteering in the lake cleanup activities. Last week, when the group had a meeting, Ridhi approached her mother Bharathy and asked, “Amma, can I go collect the funds from our apartment?” Her mother gave her the permission, and she started her collection drive. Her initial target was Rs 5000, but she collected Rs 7000.
Along with one of her friend, Ridhi went from one flat to another and covered more than 370 flats and collected a total of Rs 7000. Over 115 people contributed, and they all did so wholeheartedly.
Ridhi would tell the residents, “Good morning, we are from Friends of Lakes. We have been cleaning Chunchaghatta lake for the past 10 months. We have come to collect funds and invite volunteers. The cleanup includes beautifying and cleaning the lake like putting benches, street lights, red soil, and garbage bins, and also cleaning the garbage.”
Challenges she faced
- Many did not know that a lake like that existed in their locality;
- A lot of people asked questions, some of which frightened her, like:
- Who are you to collect the money?
- Whom will this money go to?
- How will you clean the lake?
- This is BBMP’s work, why are you collecting money for this?
- It is because you collect funds like this that the government is not doing its job.
- Where is the proof that you are working for the lake?
- Some people, looking at her donation box, asked her if she had change for Rs 2000 or Rs 500 or Rs 100.
- Many people shut the door on her face.
- Many people said they were tenants, not owners of the flats, and that they did not get permission from the owners to contribute.
- Many thought she was from the school and that the school is collecting funds,
- Many people made excuses for not volunteering and contributing, like:
- I recently moved in here, can’t give money.
- I am going out-of-station tomorrow, maybe next time.
- I have office work.
- I am too lazy on a Sunday.
- I am not interested.
- Can you come tomorrow?
A happy moment for Ridhi, after her tiresome work for 5 days, was when one generous gentleman gave her Rs 2000, and said, I would love to come, but half the time I am travelling, keep up the good work. That made her very happy.
Ridhi is only 12 years old, going to the 8th grade.
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