Citizens step in to save Agara lake from death

City Environment

Prevent people from dumping trash in drain

Citizens stepped in, regulated disposal of waste and educated people when the storm water drain at Agara lake near Begur, became a garbage dump.

Residents of the area foresaw the danger and took it upon themselves to try and clean the drain up. Mohan Govindaiah, a resident of Auckland who was visiting the city, said he was aghast to see what was happening. He joined various citizens’ groups that came together to help clean the water body.

“We had a problem last monsoon because of dumping of waste. People haven’t learnt any lessons and continue to use the storm water drain as a dumping ground,” he informed The Observer.

Besides plastic bottles and bags, vegetable waste, offal, coconut shells and sanitary napkins find their way into the drain. If the trash lands in the lake, it could pose a threat to marine organisms. The lake is home to many migratory birds.

Smitha Kulkarni, a resident of the area and member of a volunteer group in HSR Layout, said that it is as much the locals’ responsibility as it is the government’s. “We realized that cleaning up the lake would not help, and preventing waste disposal was the best way to deal with the situation. At one point, we opened garbage bags, traced people, educated them and advised them against irresponsible waste disposal. Now, authorities are doing the same.”

Some residents, along with health inspectors, go on patrol to curb waste disposal at night.

Asked if the BBMP and other civic agencies were of any help, the residents said they contacted assistant executive engineer Gopal Reddy, who was doing his job well. But that isn’t enough; personal civic responsibility is the only solution. The residents fear that the drain will soon become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, adding to their problems.

“We are trying our best to help prevent any further damage to the lakes around by educating other residents and government workers.”

The Lake Development Authority said it was informed about another issue: Waste segregation by the BBMP near the Sewage Treatment Plant that is coming up next to the lake. With garbage trucks parked there for long hours, liquid waste enters the lake through the drain.

“We wrote to the BBMP regarding this, but they never got back. We are trying our best to clear this as quickly as possible,” said Seema Garg, CEO of the Lake Development Authority.

Hanumesh, a gardener at the lake’s park, said: “People who visit the lake park carry paper and bottles. Since they are not allowed to litter in the park, they dump it all in the drain.”

A resident said that they have caught garbage vans dumping waste into the drain.

A survey of 105 lakes in Bengaluru conducted last year showed that only four lakes seemed to be in a good condition, while 25 were “in a very bad state, fully covered with macrophytes or dumped with solid or liquid waste and with little or no water”.

The survey, led by Prof. Ramachandra TV from the Energy and Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc, said the four lakes were in a good shape because residents were taking the initiative to maintain them.

Fish deaths were reported at the Sankey lake at Sadashivanagar in 2015. A study on ‘Fish Mortality in Bengaluru Lakes’ revealed that the fish kill was due to “a sudden and considerable fall in dissolved oxygen levels in some locations caused by sewage let into the lake resulting in asphyxiation.” Fish deaths have also been reported in the Lalbagh, Jakkur and Munnekolala lakes.

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