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Make them people's lakes

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RESIDENTS SHOULD TAKE OVER MAINTENANCE OF THESE WATER BODIES, SUGGESTS BBMP


The Times of India, 31st May 2011

Jayashree Nandi | TNN 


Bangalore: Bangalore’s lakes have been treated like sewage pools for years and now most are considered dead. Several projects were taken up to rejuvenate them but with not much success. BBMP has recently come up with another idea: make them people’s lakes. Let the maintenance of the lakes be given to the residents around the lake.

    But will this idea translate into a successful model that can bring alive city’s dead 
lakes? Many think residents and active citizens can make a difference if they make sincere efforts and understand that these water resources are an intrinsic part of their lives. Usha Rajagopal and her team in Puttenahalli have shown the way. She and a few members of her locality started Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust. They signed an MoU with BBMP to take up the ownership of the lake’s maintenance. Now Usha’s team regularly raises funds from other residents for the upkeep. 

    “Our website is transparent. We keep updating on how we are using the donations. The residents here are particular about how the lake is maintained. We have managed to maintain it successfully and I think other residents near other important lakes can easily replicate it,’’ she said. 

    N Mukund, member, executive committee, Jayanagar 5th Block Residents Welfare Association said, “The RWA that takes the responsibility of managing the lake has to have a good network. But without resources and money, a lake can’t be managed. If a company decides to do a corporate social responsibility project, it could be possible. But we as RWAs can’t raise much money. BBMP has to support us with funds. However, the wells in the locality can be easily managed by RWAs and this could lead to recharge of additional water resources in the area.” 

    Ashwin Mahesh, ABIDe member, thinks it’s a good idea because communities have a right over local resources and public facilities. “This decision came up because BBMP doesn’t have enough money. If communities can do a better job, then, why not,” he said. However, Uday Kumar, deputy conservator of forests and Lake Development Authority chief, said that public-private partnership model was not allowed in Karnataka. Even in this case, the communities will be raising money to maintain the lake. “Nothing should be done against the government policy or the court’s decision. The government should draft a clear policy of who should own the lakes. Who should spend money for its maintenance,” he explained. 

Why not focus on wells? 
What about wells? Bangalore has many wells that are an important source of water. Since the maintenance cost of the wells will be lesser, why don’t residents maintain the wells? — N MUKUND | JAYANAGAR 5TH BLOCK RWA MEMBER 

Don’t treat lakes like dustbins 
The residents have to first stop treating the lakes like dustbins. They should think that the lakes are their own property. I think the Puttenahalli lake model can be replicated easily. — MEENAKSHI BHARAT | MEMBER, SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT ROUND TABLE AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST 

Govt should come out with policy 
There should be a clear policy on how residents can maintain lakes. Since money is involved, it should not lead to too many complications. — UDAY KUMAR | LDA CHIEF 

WHAT RESIDENTS CAN DO 
Reduce garbage and liquid waste 
Use less detergents and surfactants 
Use less water and recycle as much as possible at secondary sewage treatment plants in apartment complexes 
Utilize waste water for various purposes 
Vermicompost at home 
Urge authorities to take action against those throwing sewage into lakes 

THE BOTTOM LINE 
Out of the 625 lakes in Bangalore, around 100 don’t have water at all 
Added to that, 264.7 acres of lake area have been encroached upon