BENGALURU: We all know Varthur Lake for its frothing and the ‘chemical snow’ it showers on motorists. Around it is apartment buildings crowding out greenery.
A few kilometres away from this nightmarish cityscape stands KK Education Society, which has been around for 38 years, in a verdant five-acre expanse.
With 500 trees of over 25 species – including avocado, pomegranate, jack fruit, mango and silk cotton – this school is a biodiversity hotspot. And everything in this garden is tended by the schoolchildren. In the campus, the school also grows vegetables, spices and bamboo trees, and keeps honey-bee colonies. The management believes that there is wealth even in waste and therefore has turned scrap from the campus, such as old desks and racks, into the decor.
They maintain bio-gas plants, and keep their own wind mill and solar panels and together these meet 50% of the school’s energy needs. They feed excess power generated to the grid run by BESCOM (Bangalore Electricity Supply Company) and this saves them money on the maintenance bill.
With a rainwater-harvesting system, the school has never relied on city corporation water. There even a well-maintained pond, which locals say has helped in keeping the groundwater levels from dipping. Alli Rani, a school teacher spearheading these initiatives, says, “From the beginning, our children have been coming up with these ideas... Credit goes to them.”
The students are also involved in projects such as carbon-sequestering, in collaboration with IISc. They have presented papers at national conferences and even won awards given to young ecologists.
They have conducted drives to conserve Varthur Lake, and have tested its water to check the contamination levels. It is also setting up a water-testing lab with help of TCS and IISc, as community service.
Enlighten, not educate
The day starts with a Sanskrit prayer. “I am an Indian first, then Muslim”, says the school principal and owner of the school M A Kahn. “I am walking in the footsteps of my father who believed education is not just about making children literate, it should also instill values.” Veena Sulagaddi, a student, says, “These activities have changed me as a person”. Another student Kruti C says that these programmes have stoked her interest in environment and science.
Study of the lake
Two years ago, the students’ study of Varthur Lake showed that it had worryingly high levels of phosphate. Students, who collected the samples, pegged it to large volumes of human urine. The water samples had been tested at IISc.