Thursday, March 27, 2014

Show your support to save Bellandur Lake

This weekend was all about Water conservation. Yesterday, we had attended sessions on how to make use of rainwater and value water as a right and not a commodity. Today it was all about saving the existing water bodies.

Bellandur lake is part of the interconnected lake systems built by Kempegowda when Bangalore settlement was planned. It is also the largest of the remaining lakes of Bangalore. The tanks (or what we call as lakes) were man made storage wells created to provide abundant water to the city, which was otherwise far away from other sources such as rivers and the sea.  The tanks were cascading and built along the slopes and valleys to accumulate water and also provide the excess collection to the next tank in line.

Currently, the lake is already in a highly polluted state with nearby apartment complexes dumping their sewage and walking off. A trip around the lake reveals a lot of surf at the place where the water inlet is present, indicating presence of urea and other pollutants.

But at-least water is present – vast amounts of it supporting whatever life it can.  But the Mantri SEZ project aims to take away the last drop and make it barren land. Mantri is coming up with the SEZ on the wetland between the Agara and the Bellandur lake. The project supposedly will draw water in quantity equivalent to the amount supplied by BWSSB to HSR Layout, Bellandur and Koramangala put together. Reports say that there have been gross violations in approvals and there is also a high court ruling on the case, asking the builder to stop the construction.

“Hey .. by the way who are you guys to ask us to Stop?” asks Mantri. Salarpuria follows suit with the same response since they are also involved in the project.

To demonstrate that we, as citizens, are really the beneficiaries of the lake and we are in favour for the lake and not their malls, Save Bengaluru Lakes had organized a protest at 10:30 am on Sunday.
About 1500 citizens turned up to show their discontent with the project, and showed this with a lot of slogan chanting. We were also part of thisJ.. trying to say “mall beda, neer beku”, “Aao, aao, lake bachao”. The protest seemed to have been noted by some Kannada channels and English dailies. Here are some interesting thoughts from the campaign.

1.       As citizens, we have equal responsibility to ensure that our environment is not getting degraded. If needed, we need to raise our voices for the right thing

2.       About 1500 people had assembled – the number seems huge in isolation but small compared to the resident numbers of the 3 surrounding areas – why was it low and what can we do to make citizens take an active part in such events?
a.       The reach was low
b.      People do not care
c.       No one understands the importance of their lake – need ecological literacy
d.      People were scared that protest can be a physical mishap – a fear instilled by gundas and politicians coupled with the media showing fire and stone throwing and commotion during protests 

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