Water Hero, Usha Rajagopalan and her team successfully revived a lake that had turned into a dumping ground for sewage, garbage and construction waste to a habitat for over a hundred species of birds and butterflies. The Puttenahalli lake helps in replenishing the groundwater and maintaining the biodiversity in the neighborhood. This is one of the biggest success stories of public-private partnership which gave way to many more citizen groups joining the environment conservation movement.
India’s lake city Bengaluru had over 300 lakes across the perimeters of the city in the 16th century that helped in making the city water-sufficient. However, with the IT boom in the 1900s, Bengaluru faced an enormous rise in its population. The unchecked urbanization led to a 1005% increase in the paved surface of the city leading to the closure of several water bodies. Between the years, 2004-2014, there was an 85% decline in the city’s water bodies. The lakes that acted as a storage system for rainwater and helped in groundwater recharge were turning into dumping grounds. Urbanization also caused many inlet channels to close, ceasing the inflow of storm water into lakes. The Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewage Board falls short of 800 mn liters of water leading to a need for water tankers. Tankers are available in most parts of the city. However, they fall under the hold of tanker mafias who charge hefty amounts for the tankers, especially during summer making a basic necessity like water, unaffordable to a large sect of the population. What can save the city now are the natural storage systems like the lakes.
Usha Rajagopalan’s initiative, the Puttenahalli Neighborhood Lake Improvement Trust (PNLIT) is actively involved in preserving the sanctity of the lake. The trust ensures regular checks on the water quality in the lake and has also taken up the responsibility of having a green cover around the lake. The PNLIT along with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike planted 125 saplings around the lake. Today, the Puttenahalli Lake is a community hub where people across the neighborhood come to spend time.
The difference that Usha and her team made started a very important conversation about the need for citizen participation. Every citizen can make a difference with small efforts as every drop of water is priceless. You can make a difference too. Take the Har Ek Boond pledge by logging onto www.republicworld.com or give a missed call on 1800 120 887788.