The lake lives again

Villagers here had told Revathi that about 50 years ago, they would use lake water for drinking and cooking -- a far cry from its condition now.
Revathi, a homemaker, developed an interest in landscaping in 1994, which led her to plant saplings and work with creepers, greens and flora. (Photo | Express)
Revathi, a homemaker, developed an interest in landscaping in 1994, which led her to plant saplings and work with creepers, greens and flora. (Photo | Express)

BENGALURU: At 60, many citizens would be content to slip into a peaceful retired life, pottering around the house, surrounded by grandchildren. Not so 63-year-old Revathi Kamath, a resident of Bannerghatta Road in Bengaluru South, who has been busy giving a new lease of life to the 28-acre Somanahalli Lake along Kanakapura Road.

Revathi, a homemaker, developed an interest in landscaping in 1994, which led her to plant saplings and work with creepers, greens and flora. On a visit to a friend in Somanahalli village in 2019, Revathi spotted some spare land and decided to plant saplings. She approached Somanahalli Gram Panchayat president Muniraj Gowda for permission, and later, she and her team planted native species like banyan, peepal, neem, jamun, jackfruit and others. It was during this exercise that she stumbled across the fact that the saplings could not be watered from the nearby lake, as it was dying.

Upon investigation, she found that the Raja canal, which was 3.5km long and 60ft wide, was blocked, resulting in the lake being deprived of fresh water from the canal. “There were encroachments on the drain as well as the lake area. I took the help of the village president and cleared the encroachments. There was no construction as such, only some fences had come up. I brought in four JCBs and cleared the encroachments, which extended over a few acres. Later, the silt was lifted for six months. Two islands of over 30ft in height were constructed inside the lake area, and now, for the past two seasons, rainwater is entering the lake. For the first time in several decades, water is reaching Suvarnamukhi, a tributary of the river Cauvery, from Somanahalli lake,” said Revathi Kamath.

A school in Mandya renovated by Revathi
A school in Mandya renovated by Revathi

Villagers here had told Revathi that about 50 years ago, they would use lake water for drinking and cooking -- a far cry from its condition now. Somehow, it had to be restored to its pristine self. She said her work as a landscaper helped her understand the needs of the area, and get the development done at a cost of Rs 45lakh. For this, she also got help from her two sons, who are in the stock trading line.

The hard work paid off: Somanahalli Lake is brimming with water and buzzing with chirpy birds. “I had planted 4,000 saplings here, and every month, I spent about Rs 50,000 to water them and care for them, for three years. Now, the saplings have grown and the entire lake area looks beautiful,” said Revathi.

She pointed out a very pertinent fact -- had the Raja canal not been cleaned up and desilted, the entire stretch of Kanakapura Road would have flooded, just as Ramanagara had, during the recent spell of heavy rain.

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