The lakes in Bangalore are actually a series of two or three water bodies in each ward and are engineering marvels in a city which is not built on a river bank like other cities in the country. Unfortunately, bad planning and rapid urbanisation has affected their survival. Suresh Nair, Executive Director of United Way of Bengaluru (UWBe), an NGO involved in the restoration and conservation efforts with BBMP, says, "Unless citizens wake up and get involved in the restoration work, it is not possible to save them. Apart from funding and corporate help, lot of effort and cooperation is needed as most of the times, it is the citizens themselves who are responsible for the lake's problem. In fact, in our experience, we have found that in an urban situation, it is very difficult to involve people as they are busy working or commuting and finding time for an issue which has lot of ramifications, is a tall order."
Since 2011, the UWBe has been involved in the restoration work of six BBMP managed lakes: Ulsoor, Uttarahalli, Yelahanka, Agara, Chinnapanahalli and Kaikondrahalli. Out of this, two of them, Chinnapanahalli and Kaikondrahalli lakes in Mahadevpura and Sarjapura Road respectively were success stories.
Situated on 300 acres, Yelahanka Lake, one of the biggest water bodies in Bangalore, was once bone dry. BBMP has been successful in recovering 5-6 acres of land in this lake from encroachers who were politically influential, says Nair. But after the revival programme, it has managed to get some water with heavy rains. But Ulsoor Lake which looks full, is in fact, more of sewage water rather than rain water, so it is high time, action is taken for diversion.
"As for Uttarahalli Lake, it is hardly filled up because of lack of community participation, blocked channels, sewage treatment plant that has again conked off, a fence of low height and of course, encroachment by people and builders. We have asked for diversion as well as construction of a sewage treatment plant at Ulsoor as lot of sewage is being let off into the lake," Suresh Nair stresses and further adds, "The challenge to revive the lakes in drier season is more as the percentage of sewage content is more. So therefore, diversion and setting up of sewage treatment plants should become mandatory to save our water bodies."