The story of Kaikondarahalli lake is an extraordinary account of teamwork and persistence that changed the destiny of a vanishing waterbody almost surely headed for extinction. In the troubled times that we live in, the story of one lake's transformation has captured public imagination and triggered the transformation of many more.
Spread over a glorious 48 acres, Kaikondrahalli lake in Bangalore, India is an urban water body and is a unique example of an urban common rejuvenated by the Municipal Corporation at the behest of and with the active participation of concerned citizens.
The lake is part of a traditional tank system in Bangalore that was developed over centuries and was connected through a web of canals to other lakes and provided water to agricultural lands in the surrounding area. As the modern city grew around this and other lakes, agricultural uses of land decreased and lakes like Kaikondrahalli became increasingly valuable to land developers and at the same time fell to neglect because the traditional users and stakeholders of the lake – the farmers, were no longer using the lake. With this, issues of encroachment, growth of unhealthy hyacinths and release of sewage or untreated water into the lake became the norm, together spelling the death knell for the once magnificent lake.
It was in this troubling scenario that a motley group of concerned citizens consisting of traditional villagers living in pockets around the lake and the newly arrived apartment/house-dwellers around the lake joined hands to revive and restore Kaikondrahalli Lake to its former pristine condition. Working with the government one step at a time, they painstakingly drew up plans to rejuvenate the lake in an environmentally sustainable, socially inclusive and financially viable manner. Most lakes in Bangalore were ‘developed’ by the municipal corporation as engineering projects, but this team insisted that the lake be ‘rejuvenated’ as a living water body, keeping in mind the flora and fauna dependent on the lake as well as the needs of the people.
Here are a few videos and presentations that trace the history of this lake.