We have always known Bangalore and now renamed as Bengaluru as the City of Lakes, since the capital of Karnataka had close to a thousand lakes. How many of us knew that this city doesn’t have any major rivers, but these lakes which were created in the 16th century played a key role in shaping the city as it is known today.
Sadly today, despite once being a resourceful city, millions often rely on private tankers to deliver water to their home. Others resort to digging unauthorised wells to meet their daily water needs. According to a 2017 NITI Aayog report, Bengaluru was one of the 11 cities globally to run out of groundwater levels by 2020.
In recent years, flooding has also become common in Bengaluru as the rain waters have nowhere to go as the natural course has been clogged with construction.
These were some of the reasons that urged a mechanical engineer from North Karnataka to become the saviour of Bengaluru’s lakes. The 39-year-old has so far rejuvenated 8 lakes and is currently working three more, apart from four others he helped to revive. He has set a goal of rejuvenating 45 lakes across Bengaluru by 2025.
Anand Malligavad, a mechanical engineer by qualification has been living in Bengaluru since 1996, when the city. According to him, the city had a lot more lakes and water than now.
Anand started working with Sansera Engineering in 2016, where like many others, he realised that his city will soon run out of water. Speaking with Indiatimes, Anand said,
I started studying more about the lakes of Bengaluru and how we reached this point. I learned that at one point Bengaluru had close to 1000 lakes and many of them have been destroyed.
I also came across the fact that several key infrastructure projects in Bengaluru including the Majestic Bus Stand, the hockey stadium, etc are built on land that was once a lake.
Initially, he tried to create awareness among the public about the importance of the city’s lakes, but he couldn’t make much of an impact. He added,
So I decided I will work on the root cause, which in Bengaluru’s case is the lakes. In the next few months, I studied extensively about the lakes including their structure, shape, soil condition, topography, ecosystem, how lakes are inter-connected, etc.
I visited nearly 180 lakes in one year for this.
After nearly six months of research, Malligavad started working on reviving the Kyalasanahalli Lake near Anekal, a 36-acre water body that was on the verge of death due to neglect and encroachment.
I had a budget of Rs 1 crore which was the CSR fund of Sansera Engineering. I had to do whatever needed to be done within the budget. Keeping this in mind I did the calculations and found where we can reduce the costs.
We used mostly natural materials, clay, and gravel from the lake itself to create bunds and separations. We started in April 2017, and completed the project in just 45 days spending Rs 95 lakhs.
On June 5, 2017, on the occasion of World Environment Day, Malligavad along with several other techies also planted thousands of saplings around the waterbody, which have now grown into a forest, as shared by Indiatimes.
According to Malligavad, one of the biggest challenges that he had faced in the rejuvenation drive was resistance from the encroachers. Since the lake had been neglected for decades and partly dried up, nearly one-third of it -12 acres were encroached upon. He said,
After identifying we marked the original boundaries of the lake, but the villagers who were living on the land removed it, we had to do it all over again.
Then we got some villagers who wanted the lake to be rejuvenated onboard. With their support, the encroachers were convinced to move out.
Even now, the villagers who are the beneficiaries of the lake play a key role in the upkeep of the waterbody.
Malligavad rejuvenated three more lakes in 2019 after which he quit his job to dedicate entirely to the cause. According to Malligavad, the positive change brought by the rejuvenated lakes to the localities and the people there are clearly visible.
This morning Anand proudly tweeted sharing completion of 8th lake with 11 crore litres of water. He wrote,
47 Acres Large Lake Land was without water and full of weeds and Invasive plants Today filled with water of 11 Crores of Litres It’s my 8th LAKE
While we Indians are in awe of the glamour world, be it in movies, television or sports, we often fail to appreciate the efforts and vision of such common men who are adding their bit for the welfare of society.
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