Lakes are abused mainly through encroachment, dumping of debris and sewage. It is important to prevent all this from happening. In most cases, people are not conscious of the boundaries of a lake. This results in debris entering the lake and creating further scope for encroachment. Community support is essential to prevent encroachment and dumping of debris in lakes. Once an area is encroached upon and removed from the lake’s space, it is even more difficult to clear it.
The legal custodian of any lake is the concerned Government body – Gram Panchayat, Municipal Corporation or Minor Irrigation Dept as it may differ from State to State. But the key custodians are the people living around it, people who have used and are using the lakes, farmers, washer men, fishermen and the general households that are located in the vicinity of the lake body.
Bio-diversity is a must at a lake as it has to house the bees, butterflies, reptiles and birds of various kinds which form part of its delicate ecosystem. Hence, we must carefully choose native / indigenous plants suited for ground cover – herbs, shrubs, medicinal, tall, shade-giving , fruit-bearing, flowering plants and creepers – that will gradually create an ecosystem.
Wetland acts as a filter or a kidney in a lake system. The silt and sediments brought in from the inlets are first received, trapped and cleansed by the wetland that generally has grass and plants suited for the said role. It also acts as safe habitat for birds, butterflies and certain species of fish to thrive.
Inlets bring in/ feed water to the lake body and outlet allows the flow of the excess water. Both are key to a healthy lake since it is no less than a living body. One has to ensure from time to time that both inlets and outlets are free from blockage and silts.
An ideal lake must be free from the above and must have active stakeholder engagement maintaining the lake.
Bengaluru had 1000 plus lakes during 1930s when the British had surveyed them. They were amazed by the climate and environment of Bengaluru and called it ‘City of Thousand Lakes’. Bengaluru’s undulating terrain comprising of hillocks and valleys lent itself to the formation of water catchment areas. Being 900 metres above the sea level with no perennial water system close by, the rulers right from Gangas (870 AD) to Kempegowda I and to the British constructed and conserved the lakes.
Lakes are multipurpose in nature and a lifeline to all living beings – humans, birds, animals and other organisms. Traditionally and even today, they are an important source of drinking water. Even so, they are largely used for agriculture, fishing, cattle feeding, washing and also religious purposes. Lakes provide the space for bio-diversity to flourish which includes both flora and fauna. Above all, they influence the socio-economic life of the people living around them.