How a group of citizen activists saved Bengaluru’s Agara lake

The Agara lake was no different than many other water bodies in the city. It was covered Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority large swathes of hyacinth and had sewage seeping in. Spread over 95 acres between the upscale localities of Koramangala and HSR Layout, the lake was another victim of rapid urbanisation and on the verge of dying.

Cut to 2018. The lake is showing signs of revival after a combination of citizen activism and government support worked wonders for it. The lake, now de-silted and hyacinth-free, is brimming with fresh water.

With a grant of ₹16.10 crore from the state government, the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority began restoration of the Agara lake in 2016. The project is almost complete. The work began with the removal of weeds, dewatering and de-silting of the lake. Its sewage mixed water was used for watering the plants and the silt for increasing the height of the 2.5-km walking and cycling track around the lake.

As an open stormwater drain runs along the lake on the western side, the next major challenge was to arrest the entry of sewage into the lake. The authorities constructed sluice gates at the lake weir and the sewage has been arrested through revetment and remodelling the wetland. The project included installing a chain-link fence along the lake boundary, floating fountains, planting saplings, providing lighting, constructing toilets, creating a pond for immersing idols and chalking out a play area for children.

Citizen Participation
When four lakes, including the Agara lake, were leased to private parties for development and maintenance in 2007, the government decision resulted in public opposition. The entity that took charge of the Agara lake wanted to turn it into an amusement park, which the locals opposed. In 2009, the Karnataka High Court also restrained any development work on the lake, based on a petition filed Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority the Environment Support Group.

“When the lake further deteriorated, the concerned citizens with the support of resident welfare associations and experts formed the Agara Lake Protection and Management Society (ALPMS). We have been working closely with the government to restore the water body,” said Suresh B Bhadraiah, secretary, ALPMS.

“When the lake further deteriorated, the concerned citizens with the support of resident welfare associations and experts formed the Agara Lake Protection and Management Society (ALPMS). We have been working closely with the government to restore the water body,” said Suresh B Bhadraiah, secretary, ALPMS.

Kavitha Reddy, member of ALPMS and a lake activist, believes that it is possible to restore lakes through active citizens involvement. “We worked with authorities from designing the concept plan for the restoration of the lake to the implementation.”

 

(Source: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/how-a-group-of-citizen-activists-saved-bengalurus-agara-lake/articleshow/62534921.cms)