On a mission to revive 45 city lakes by 2025

On a mission to revive 45 city lakes by 2025

Rejuvenating three near-dead lakes on the city’s outskirts through a ‘natural,’ citizen-driven way, Anand Malligavad is on a mission: To revive 45 lakes by 2025.

Mixing passion with local connect and corporate networking, Malligavad, a mechanical engineer, is determined that these waterbodies do not go the Bellandur Lake way. For years, the 36-acre Kyalasanahalli Lake near Anekal was on the edge, dangerously depleted due to rampant industrial waste-dumping. But a spirited effort to revive this lake by Malligavad, his former employer and surrounding villagers meant a remarkable recovery of the waterbody in 45 days.

When Malligavad first proposed that the lake could be revived with just Rs 95 lakh, no one believed him.

“I studied the canals and the lake’s ecosystem, convinced the nearby community of 450 houses about my dream,” he told DH.

His employer coming on board, offering Rs 17 lakh to give Malligavad’s project the initial boost. On April 20, 2017, the team went to work. “With the help of the local community, we removed about 4,16,000 cubic metres of mud from the lake to create five islands within the waterbody.”

Each of these islands had tree and fruit-bearing saplings aplenty. Eventually, the islands would transform as nesting areas for hundreds of birds. Today, about 18,000 saplings, 3,000 native species of plants and 2,000 ayurvedic plants populate the lake area.

But cleaning up the lake was not easy. Like most polluted waterbodies within the city, the Kyalasanahalli lake had ample waste water flowing in.

“Besides, all rajanallis leading to the lake had been encroached upon, covered. We cleared them, created three inlets, 11 sub-inlets and an idol immersion section,” Malligavad said. Twelve acres of encroachment were cleared. “We convinced the farmers how they will benefit from a revived lake. Over 1,600 volunteers helped clear the mud, create the islands and plant the saplings. Then came the rain, unprecedented in volume. In nine-and-half days, the lake was filled with 20ft of crystal clear water.” 

As the revived lake recharged all the borewells in the vicinity and beckoned birds in droves, over 50,000 fish flourished. Looking beyond the Kyalasanahalli Lake, Malligavad and The Better India (TBI) with a unique ‘The Lake Revivers Collective’ campaign used the same citizen-driven strategy to rejuvenate the Gavi Kere Lake near Electronics City.

Driven by storytelling, crowdfunding and on-ground efforts, the collective now wants to help Malligavad realise his dream of 45 rejuvenated lakes. TBI helped raise over Rs. 8 lakh through crowdfunding for Gavi Kere lake rejuvenation. Further funds for the initiative are now being raised through TBI's Milaap page.

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