Citizens volunteer to rejuvenate Gottigere lake

Citizens volunteer to rejuvenate Gottigere lake

At half-past six each Sunday morning, Pradeep and a band of volunteers wade through the waters of the Gottigere lake; their voices echoing in the open space.

Through the rippling waters around their legs, they
bend down, grab each weed by their fist and pull it from the lake bed until the clock strikes ten.

Not depending on the authorities, these local green warriors valiantly soldier along with the sole aim of restoring the lake to its pristine self.

"When the lake was clean ten years ago, the entire Gottigere village depended on it for water," Pradeep, a lawyer by profession, said. "Various species of migratory birds also sojourned here."

As volunteers weeded out water hyacinth choking the lake, Pradeep said Upa Lokayukta Justice S B Majage directed BDA, BWSSB and BBMP to revive the waterbody in 2015. But the lake's condition only worsened from then.

"The lakebed is still littered with garbage and sewage is also allowed," he said.

The volunteers -from techies to entrepreneurs and college goers- also encourage teens above 15 years to join them in the cleaning drive. Indeed, they would like more public participation.

They clear any waste material by hand, rake or using sticks and leave them on the shore for a couple of days before disposing of them.

"As residents of this locality, we will do whatever it takes to keep the lake clean, preserve it for our children and maintain its ecosystem,"said Saurabh Nair, another volunteer.

Lake chocked

Nair said the large inflow of sewage allows microphytes to cover the water, which pollutes and chokes the lake.

Ashakiran, a local resident taking part in the cleaning, said the lake has become a garbage dump for many.

"We couldn't wait for government agencies and decided to take up cleaning work on our own," Ashakiran said.

Another member of the cleaning crew Azhar Ali said the group is ready to partner with any organisation on a larger clean-up drive.

"We're looking for more volunteers to join us," he added.

The volunteers say community initiatives are the best solution for lake maintenance, even as the Lake Development Authority and BDA struggle to rejuvenate Bellandur.

The BDA is preparing to build a walkway around the lake, but the volunteers say pumping out water would not help cleaning up the lake. Instead, authorities should divert the sewage flow from the waterbody, they say.

To lure greater interest -and, of course, volunteers- the team has a Facebook page, 'Save Gottigere Lak' where they post updates on the lake's rejuvenation and on their weekly cleaning drive.

The initiative is supported by residents of Nandi Retreat Apartment, Sai Nandana Apartment, Balaji Gardens Layout, Silver Spring Apartment and Bohra Layout.  

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