by Usha Rajagopalan
This is the question we are asked very often and each time it makes us cringe and become defensive. However much we would like to say otherwise, there is no “next” for us after Puttenahalli Lake. To the outsider, the lake may have transformed but it still needs attention, protection and constant vigilance. What can go wrong, you ask?
As recently as 27th Sept. 2017, a chamber on the road collapsed and sewage gushed into the lake. A fortnight earlier the slum residents got the workers hired by BBMP to remove the entire vegetation along their side. This not only led to total destruction of bird habitat but also to the weakening of the bund. Further, it exposed a pipeline through which gray water was being let into the lake. When the monsoon increased the level, water entered this pipe and flooded one of the houses.
Before monsoon set in, we had requested the owner of the adjoining property to build a storm drain to direct rain water into the inlet. She did not heed our request. The slightest shower brought sand and clay from their property onto the walking track making it slushy, slippery and dangerous for walkers. Our staff cleaned the track every time but even now it has a layer of residual sand.
All these needed our immediate attention and action. Controlling weed growth on land and in water, composting these, preventing misuse, littering, etc. are constant chores. We were able to tackle problems before they blew up only because we live in the vicinity of the lake. We are able to visit often and are aware of what’s happening and where.
This is why we believe that the best caretakers of a lake are the people living around it. We have not kept count of the number of such groups we have helped already. Perhaps some day when we have a little time off from nurturing and protecting our Puttenahalli Lake, we will compile such a list.