Apart from being known as the Garden City, Bengaluru was also the city of lakes till many years ago. But public and official apathy and rampant encroachment have seen the number of lakes dwindling fast, so much so that the state of the surviving ones has set off alarm bells.In recent times, the BBMP has been working towards restoring some of the lakes in association with various organizations and now, Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF) has come up with the concept of Kere Habba or Lake Festival in association with MAPSAS and United Way, Bengaluru, to create awareness among citizens about the issue.Speaking about this unique initiative, Sridhar Pabisetty of NBF, says, “Teams working towards the protection and development of lakes have encountered many challenges, including stiff opposition from people with vested interests. Kere Habba is aimed at uniting people in protecting lakes.“
Natural enjoyable areas in the city are becoming off-limits, and this festival will serve as a way to reconnect and provide easy access to the lakes.“
Sridhar adds, “We have identified 69 lakes in the city and have collected information about them, which include the problems and challenges they face. The Kere Habba, will be a monthly affair wherein we will give the collected information to citizens.We then intend to target one lake at a time for restoration work and, over the next five years, we will restore these 69 lakes. It is an actual on-ground partnership with citizens that will help us take our issue forward.“
The habba will include eco-friendly activities and will also have storytelling sessions about lake protection.“It will also serve as an opportunity to sensitize people about the different flora and fauna in and around the Kaikondrahalli Lake, where the habba is being held,“ adds Sridhar.
MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who is vocal about such civic issues, is also proud to be associated with the Kere Habba. He says, “Lakes are the heart and soul of Bengaluru and have a direct impact on the water level in the city. They are pockets of greenery and natural habitats. Working on them is also in a way recapturing the history and tradition of Bengaluru. The habba will give citizens the chance to take responsibility and protect the lakes.“
The Mahadevpura Parisara Samrakshane Mattu Abhivrudhi Samiti (MAPSAS) also takes up ecological lake maintenance activities after rejuvenation of lakes. Priya Ramasubban, one of the members of the trust, says, “Before the trust was formed, a group of us got together to restore lakes in our neighborhood. Now, we are maintaining five lakes after BBMP has rejuvenated them. We are now looking for corporates to partner with us and help us maintain the lakes.“
Shedding some more light, Priya adds, “There are now a handful of people who come by the lakes -mostly joggers, birdwatchers or people who come with their children. We want more and more people to come and enjoy nature amid the hustle and bustle of the city and understand that they don’t have to take a drive out of the city to enjoy greenery. We also want to show citizens that it is not hard to manage an event in a green manner. We are arranging for shuttle buses for pick up and drop, so that people don’t have to worry about parking when they get their own vehicles. We will have solid waste management and food stalls will be outside the lake. We are looking to address issues of conservation apart from drawing attention to the lakes.“