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Working Towards a Better Tomorrow

Seven years ago, a group of ordinary people came together to attempt something as daunting as it was ambitious- revamping the highly polluted and nearly parched lake in their neighbourhood. The Kaikondrahalli lake, as it was known, was once famous for its vast variety of winged visitors - both local and migratory as well as its bountiful aquatic life, which was a source of livelihood for the indigenous communities around it. With the passage of time and ambient changes in real estate and demography, the lake was reduced to a cesspool of manmade problems. It was in this context that this group of motley citizens came together in their attempt to restore the lake to its previous glory.

Wanting to revive the lake as a thriving, living ecosystem, the group worked closely with the municipality (BBMP) on aspects of design and infrastructure to make sure top priority was given to encouraging biodiversity in and around the lake. After three years of dedicated efforts by all involved and the bounty of a good monsoon, Kaikondrahalli lake was relaunched in its new avatar. Birds started returning, aquatic life was thriving and it seemed like the perfect finale. Soon however, sewage and sludge started returning to the lake and destroying the balance. It was then that the community realised that this lake was part of a chain of lakes further upstream and that working on this lake in isolation was not enough.

The lake chain, known as the Parappana Agrahara series, starts with the Parappana Agrahara lake, followed by Kudlu Dodda kere, Kudlu Chikka kere, Haralur lake, Kasavanahalli lake, Kaikondrahalli lake and Sowl kere. Dodda Ambalipura, Chikka Ambalipura, Ibblur and Bellandur form another chain nearby and just as in Kaikondarahalli’s case, citizens had worked on Chikka Ambalipura before realiising that that chain too needed to be seen as a wholistic and interdependent lake system.

Realising that all their efforts till date would be wasted if they did not focus on the larger picture, the citizen group decided to spearhead the rejuvenation and maintenance of all the lakes in the chain. There was a pressing need to create an official body to take things forward and hence group formed themselves into a trust named MAPSAS (Mahadevapura Parisara Samrakshane Mattu Abhivrudhi Samiti). Currently MAPSAS has standing agreements with the BBMP for the maintenance of these lakes. The agreement with the BBMP is such that the BBMP only undertakes the initial big investments on infrastructure and other aspects of daily maintenance have to be taken care of by MAPSAS, all of which require funding.

MAPSAS is not looking just at conventional maintenance of these lakes. Going forward, it also has plans to employ field officers who will collect empirical data that will help us measure and monitor the enhancement to air quality, flora and fauna, enrichment of groundwater table, etc. We also have projects on the anvil to map the shallow aquifers in the area along with experts in the field of groundwater mapping. The long term objective of all these projects is to reclaim the city from the morass of unplanned development and urbanisation and to alleviate at least some of the ills plaguing it currently. Through our work, we hope to inspire communities in other parts of the city also to start something similar. Healthy lakes, along with their accompanying ecosystems are critical for the continuing health and vitality of Bangalore especially given the development trajectory that this city has seen in the recent past. We hope to partner with you in our endeavour towards this end.

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