A thick carpet of green, spread across 23 acres welcomes anyone visiting Anjanapura, a suburb in Bengaluru. Although visitors may mistake the green cover for weeds, residents of Anjanapura identify it as Alahalli lake.
Once a healthy lake, Alahalli has like many others, fallen prey to government negligence. Over the years, thick weeds have carpeted the lake, making it impossible to see beneath the surface.
The slow death of the lake, residents recall, began when the area came within the purview of BBMP in 2007. Untreated sewage began to be released into the lake in 2009, poisoning the lake slowly.
For the past three years, residents have been urging the officials of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and Lake Development Authority (LDA), to take measures to revive the lake, but in vain.
Now, in association with a Mumbai-based NGO Pavitra foundation, the residents’ group, Alahalli Lake and Neighbourhood Development Trust (ALNDT) have started de-weeding since Monday. A machine that can rid the lake of the three layers of weed, has been brought in from Mumbai, with the permission of BBMP. The entire operation is funded by the group. After the weeds are taken out of the lake, the local corporator will transport them in trucks to the outskirts of Bengaluru, where BBMP has provided land for dumping.
Though the group has carried out cleaning drives around the lake, never before have they been able to venture into the water to get it cleaned.
How it all started
In 2013, residents of the neighbourhood including that of Anjanapura and Avalahalli, got together to form Alahalli Lake and Neighbourhood Development Trust (ALNDT) to press the demand for cleaning up the lake.
Managing trustee of the organization Anand Yadvad told The News Minute that their pleas over the past three years have fallen on deaf ears.
"In just a matter of two years since they began releasing sewage into the lake, we were unable to use the groundwater in the area. We had to completely stop being dependent on bore wells and get filtered water for drinking purposes. We have approached all the concerned authorities, but everybody has been passing the buck when it comes to taking steps to revive the lake," Anand recounts.
When the group first brought the matter to the attention of BDA, Anand says, that the authority had chalked out a proposal to revive the lake.
"However, they maintained that they could only implement it if the BWSSB stops releasing sewage. The water board, on the other hand, has been consistently telling us that the issue would be sorted once Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) are set up. But for this, they say that they need at least five years to have the Sewage Treatment Plants up and running," Anand says.
ALNDT now wants the government to allow them to do maintenance of the lake, so that they do not have to knock on multiple doors with pleas to give the lake a chance to rejuvenate.