Eco Talk with Anand Malligavad: Not Just the Government, We All are Responsible for the Environment

Anand Malligavad is the head of Sansera Foundation’s corporate projects and he led the rejuvenation of the endangered Kyalasanahalli Lake. Sansera was founded by S. Sekhar Vasan and the team is involved in many CSR activities which mainly focus on education and the environment. Developing a lake takes months, even years, but the CSR arm of the city-based company called Sansera Engineering managed to give this lake located in Bommasandra a makeover in just 45 days.

In this episode, Anand shares that a few years ago, each and every house in the vicinity of the lake had its own well for drawing water. “In those days, we didn’t need electricity or a motor for water, we just needed a rope. Earlier, people would not waste water instead, they would sow some seeds in an unused plot and water them. As a result, Bangalore used to be a place full of forests and greenery. The forests recharged the lakes with water in the form of rains.”

Over a period of time, the city gradually developed and the houses which earlier had only one floor started transforming into multi-storeyed structures. The citizens were happy that the city was developing but in the process, they forgot how the lakes were being destroyed. In the process of building tall apartments, people paid inadequate attention to drainage systems and realised that the only option left was to make the debris flow into the lakes. Because of this, many aquatic animals started getting affected by pollution. “Moist soil was used in the construction of buildings and for making bricks. People not only destroyed the lakes but also disturbed the natural habitats of animals.”

Over a period of time, there were buildings coming up everywhere, in the highlands as well as in the lowlands. The lowlands that were supposed to be filled with rainwater began to be occupied by buildings or sewage. “Water in Bangalore is hard when compared to the water used in places like Chikkamangaluru. In fact, the water in the city is so hard that the vessels won’t be clean even after being washing thoroughly. After wells, we started depending on borewells, but today, even after digging very deep pits, there is little access to groundwater. So now, we are forced to depend on tankers that source water from the villages. People in the city know how to get water from the villages but they don’t know how to recycle and give it back to them.”

Anand also speaks about the Rishabavanti River that was once a beautiful river but has now turned into a drainage pit. He says that the whole lake is now black in colour and has polluted foam on its surface – this is the water that connects to the important Kaveri basin. “This way, we have destroyed the entire system.”

Anand elaborates on how he got the idea of saving lakes. “I realised how a developed city like Bangalore is now facing scarcity of water. I am against the idea of protesting because we can’t blame the government for each and every thing. The government is trying to do things in its own way but instead of just protesting against certain things, we should take action. This thought encouraged me to start this programme.” He says that in September 2016, the government introduced a new project called ‘Bring Back the Lakes’ and he signed up with the project. Till now, they have saved many lakes, one among them being the Kyalasanahalli Lake in the Anekal taluk. “In my experience, this was a project that was completed in the smallest time with the least funds. In the year 2017, Bangalore was reported to have received the highest amount of rainfall, filling up the lake with about 18ft. to 20ft. of water. This water is so good that we can consume it directly from the lake.”

This result inspired many other people to join the group which is currently working on another lake project – to save the Vagasandra Lake. Other than this lake, he has also worked for the revival of the Konsandra Lake. This lake is the one that connects to the Varthur Lake and used to be called the ‘Poisonous Lake’.

Anand mentions that lake rejuvenation attempts should be planned in such a way that that the cost of the project is low and its aims can be achieved relatively faster. The Hennagara Government School, where they have built a forest called the Miyavaki Forest, used a Japanese method through which a forest can grow ten times faster and thirty times thicker. This also helps the ecology of the place a 100% and completely recharges the rainwater. “This forest has about 38,000 varieties of trees and plants. If we want to survive, we have to learn how to use water carefully and try to save it, too. If not, within a couple of years, Bangalore will face a great crisis.”

He also shares about the various projects that he is planning and why he plans to start at Bannerghatta first – it is a place that is closer to the forest. The team is also planning to employ crowdfunding instead of relying on corporate funding for future projects. “Work connected to Mother Nature can be successful only when everyone contributes.”

Listen in for more…

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