Eco Talk with Dr. Annapurna Kamath: How the Jakkur Lake Was Revived and is Being Celebrated

Dr. Annapurna Kamath is a member of the Jalposhan Trust. The Trust is a citizens group that was formed in the year 2015 with the sole purpose of conserving the Jakkur Lake. Dr. Kamath is originally from Bengaluru but in the year 2006, they shifted to a village called Sampigehalli where the Jakkur Lake was the only resource of water for the whole village. Dr. Kamath was living very close to the lake. “In 2008, the BDA people came, de-silted the lake and converted it into an urban lake. Due to this, parts of the village also became urbanised while most of the parts remained rural.”

Since she has stayed very close to it, she witnessed both the birth and the death of the lake very closely. “The BDA people did their job very well and the lake was also rejuvenated.”

The problem started in 2012 when the BDA left after developing the lake. People started dumping debris and garbage into the water again, and started washing their clothes in the lake. “About 13 crores were spent in the cleaning of the lake and it was sad to see that so much money and effort was in vain.” Later, when they spoke to BDA contractors again, they said that if they wanted to rejuvenate the lake again, they had to go to the BBMP officers. The BBMP officers said that if there are any citizens groups or NGOs that are ready to adopt the lake then it will become easier to maintain the lake. After receiving this information, they gathered all the members of the village as well as people who came for all walks of life from areas near the lake and started a citizens group.

In the process of cleaning the lake, the team realised the waste dumped included dead roosters, sanitary waste and also expired medicines. Everyone felt bad at the condition of the lake and decided to start the Jalposhan Trust. “The local people are representatives of this Trust. On February 2015, we launched the Trust and adopted the lake in May 2015.” A plan was created in coordination with BBMP to save the lake. The Trust focuses more on three main aspects, which are conservation programmes like celebrating ‘Vanamahotsava’ and projects related to nature, and ‘Art by the Lake’ held every third Sunday of the month where famous artists from Bengaluru showcase their talent by the lake. “The art forms can be anything, like dance, songs, instrumental music, etc. The main purpose of doing this near the lake is to attract people towards the lake.”

Close to 1,000 people are following the team closely and also supporting the campaigns. Even the shepherds, grass cutters and the fishermen of the village are included in the group. “Noticing the determination of the members of the group, even the government officials are enthusiastically working for the welfare of the lake.”

Dr. Kamath mentions that there are two different aspects if you want to save the lake – one is that the citizens must become selfless instead of selfish. They should start caring about their lakes and trees instead of just ignoring them. The second aspect is, instead of just assuming that the government officials will not agree, people should try to see that they work together. “It is necessary to have both a long term vision and a short term vision.”

Dr. Kamath tells us that along with the local people, there are people coming from other cities as well. “People from abroad come to see the integrated urban water management system. This system shows how contaminated water can be reused after the cleaning process.” The second thing that attracts people to Jakkur Lake is the constructed wetlands, and the third reason is the biodiversity of Jakkur. “Up to 197 species of birds can be spotted here. Over 157 types of plants are here, including the medicinal ones.”

The lake spans 160 acres and it provides a livelihood to most of the people living around. “The advantage of having fishermen is that they look after the lake very well because if they want their fish to be alive, then the water should be clean. Fishermen are like their alarms; as soon as they get a hint that the water is contaminated, they immediately inform the trustees.”

The main focus now is on controlling the sewage flow into the lake. This year, they are introducing a programme called ‘Nature’s Guru Kul’. “The main motive of this programme is to create awareness about the lakes amongst the people. The awareness programmes will be conducted for people of all age groups. After attending this programme, people will slowly stop misusing the lake, dumping garbage in them, etc., and start caring for the lake.”

The team is also working with schools and this year, it has started a programme called ‘Institution for Conservation’. Here they join hands with various schools and encourage them to participate in various environmental programmes. “Second is that the students can see and understand various concepts that are mentioned in their text. This is the best form of education. ‘If a child is educated then the whole family and the school can be educated’.”

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