Wednesday, June 4, 2014

As the water flows in – Halnayakahalli Lake restoration

“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.” - Leon J. Suenes

Lake filled with water
We jumped into the bandwagon a little late. Nevertheless we were on a journey with other committed individuals on the mission to “Rejuvenate Halanayakahalli Lake”.
Halanayakahalli lake lies in the Varthur Hobli, very close to Sarjapur road and about 2 kms distance from the Wipro campus. Like many lakes in Bangalore that are subjected to stress of the rapid urbanization and land grabbing, the lake had not seen water in the past 5 years. The last time that we have a google image which shows water is from 2008. Gradually, buildings take over the wetlands, outsiders buy land and soon we have the raja-kaluvaes, the life-line of any tank, being blocked by debris.

Before we joined the group, we had come to know about the lake from a walkathon conducted by the group in mid-February. Even though we could not attend the walkathon, out of curiosity the following morning, Alton and I had visited the lake site.

Where is the lake?

There was but barren land and a road running through it. Some cow herds, some children playing cricket and parked school buses – all in the middle of the lake bed!

A group of volunteers, from rainbow drive, were already planning to revive the lake. We joined them in March. Our group discusses and debates and some key members have been meeting with various government bodies for protecting the area.

How many government bodies?
Oh.. there are many! Being part of the group has been an excellent learning for us. There are multitude of bureaucrats involved and various authorities that need to be consulted and coaxed to get into action.
Every lake falls under government bodies that are its custodians and are responsible for its maintenance. For our lake, the Bangalore development Authority (BDA), the Lake development Authority (LDA) and the DCF (District commissioner of forests) form the governing body and the Minor Irrigation (MI) department was the custodian.

A core team was already trying for appointments with the various departments. The panchayat was also involved so as to understand if they could help with the debris clearing and in involving villagers.  We have also written to BDA, LDA, DCF and MI requesting for clearing of the Raj-kaluvae so as to enable the lake to get filled up with water.

Having no practical experience in ecology or restoration of habitats, we took the help of some prominent ecologists to understand how to go about the activity. The trees to be planted, the pathways, the inflow, the kaluvae cleaning – everything was discussed.

Even though much of the work in in-progress, this is what we see today after the heavy rainsJ. Just a small step but huge enough to give all of us a big relief. The PDO has ordered for the clearing of the Raj Kaluvae and we can see the water flowing from there. 
Pics taken by members of Halanayanahalli team.

Health lifeline - the Raja Kaluvae

This was one of the reactions from a team member:
“If we take one step towards Mother Nature, nature will take five steps towards us.. lets all believe in that.”

We also see some ducks and kingfishers around – so this is going to our next birding spot this Saturday!

There are still major activities left before the lake can be fully functional as a self-sustaining eco-system thriving with insects, plants and birds. But at the moment, we are happy.

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