The residents of JP Nagar, a neighbourhood in south Bengaluru are on a mission to revive a forgotten lake in their neighbourhood.
On Sunday, as many as 50 people, including residents and volunteers of a city-based NGO Youth For Parivarthan (YFP) got together to clean up the Chunchghatta lake, which has long been in a state of neglect.
Having realised that saving its lakes is the way to save the city of Bengaluru, the initiative saw the residents spruce up the lake and carry out activities to convert the neglected area into an open space for the public.
The clean-up drives began in June last year and have been taking place every month since then. But the garbage around the lake always managed to return, often demotivating their efforts, says Grinshina Kartik, a member of Friends of Lake Chuchghatta.
It was then that residents struck up the plan of a sustained campaign to ensure that the clean-up efforts were visibly working.
In the first phase, residents want to encourage people to make use of the public space. While fences were put up around one side of the lake, four colourful park benches were also installed. Children painted signs about the importance of saving Bengaluru’s lakes, that were then put up in several places.
It was after seeing images of toxic foam emanating from the Bellandur lake in Bengaluru that the group decided come together, explains Grinshina, a former IT professional and now a fitness trainer.
“There should not be another Bellandur lake,” she exclaims, adding, “I have been living here for the past ten years and I can see this lake from where I stay. I have seen the once-clean lake shrink, mounted with garbage and sewage. We need to reduce our dependency on the Cauvery river and revive ground water. It is important that we realize early on that we need a sustainable way of living and protecting our lakes should be a priority. After all, we do not want to be another Bellandur lake, where crores of rupees is now being shelved to revive the lake. Let's start early on."
Vasudha, another resident says, "We have been coming to the lake once every month to not just clean up the place, but also spread awareness that we need to maintain the lake.”
Amith Amarnath, Founder President of Youth For Parivarthan points out, "The residents have been cleaning up the place for a few months now. But just cleaning the lake one day and coming back the next day, will not make any difference, because the people who dump waste there will continue to do so. Here you need a major transformation.”
Being a secluded area, the lake was being used for illegal activities in the past, he notes. To ensure the space is accessible to all, Amith says, “We are making this place colourful so that people will use it, may be for morning or evening walks."
The second phase of mission clean-up Chunchghatta lake will be undertaken by the BBMP. Kicking-off in the first week of May, LED lights will be installed around the lake. But with the civic body reportedly short of funds, YFP has started an online crowdfunding campaign on Milaap.org for the LED lights.
"The first phase is sort of an experimental phase, where in we want people to see the way the lake has changed. Before the second phase is implemented, we hope residents will start engaging with this place. Children have already started coming here to play cricket, which is a good sign," Amith says.