Bangalore lakes have changed. Dr S Ravichandra Reddy takes us down the memory lane where he gives us a sneak peek into how the lakes used to be, “once upon a time.”
In the early 1970s, Bellandur Lake did not have the same reputation as it does today. During his university days, he used to frequent it to collect fish samples for his experiments. On these early chilly mornings, he would sit beside the lake bank patiently waiting for his fish. The atmosphere would be full of birds’ chirping and a gentle serenity would fill the air.
He says that the lake would be full of a variety of fishes and that he has witnessed truckloads of fishes being harvested and marketed. If someone had told him then of the lake’s future situation (i.e. the present condition) to him, he would not have believed him!
In total, there used to be roughly 15 orders of fishes in the earlier surveys taken at our lakes wherein now the majority has been wiped out. How can fish survive in the black and white waters (ironically paradoxical as the white is the toxic foam and the black is the water itself) of Bellandur? Overfishing is barely the culprit here.
There are plenty other factors putting the lake at distress and causing it to becomes unfavorable to aquatic life that it holds. All that glory surrounding Bellandur Lake is now reduced to being the signifier of water pollution, a foaming polluted lake.
It is far from serving drinking purposes. But lakes are more than that. They are also watersheds, recreational areas, fish culture, wildlife habitat and much more. We need to change our thinking. The lakes are entire ecosystems in themselves. Only when we realize its wholeness teeming with life will people start treating it like living entities and not just a place to draw drinking/potable water from.
The professor lets out a long sigh. Suddenly his eyes takes on an excited gleam and he asks me to wait. He soon comes over with some equipment. It was a cute little portable stove! He explains to me how he used to camp alongside the lake banks while he was pursuing his higher studies abroad in the UK. He would cook his own food on the stove and sleep in his makeshift tent. His love for lakes no matter where has been unshakable.
Wouldn’t you want to experience the same?
We need to regain our connection with Nature, our native water bodies, flora and fauna. Neither the vegetation and the wildlife nor the shore margin distance should be compromised as the lakes health is affected by them all.
Dr Reddy goes on to explain how industrialists and the governments sometimes wish to construct their buildings by reducing the lake’s shore margin and taking up that space. But we have to realize that it is not as easy as it looks. The shore margin, apart from catering to so many eco-systemic needs, is soft and not stable enough to have buildings constructed over it. This space is known as the buffer zone. There is now court mandate to ensure that industries so not build anything up to a certain distance.
Most people do not receive water from bore wells. They could go digging until 1000 feet downwards and still find themselves facing the dry rock bed. Why is this so?
Unless the lakes are healthy and brimming with life, there will not be enough water to drain down into the capillaries underground which feeds our groundwater table. It might be impossible to go back to that golden era where our lakes were safe from humans’ greed but it is still plausible to regain some of that. After all, they are OUR lakes. If not us, who will care?