In March of this year, thousands of fish were found dead in the Ulsoor Lake in the heart of Bengaluru. In fact it was the heart of Bengaluru… once upon a time. If fish could not survive the pollution, how could people? People stopped coming for their morning walks and evening strolls. Those who dared to visit this lake carried extra hand kerchiefs to protect their olfactory cells from being overwhelmed by the bad odour emanating from the lake. The government woke up from its slumber and demanded answers and accountability within a week. They got their answers…plastic and sewage had polluted the lake, killing the fish. It had begun to compete with the Bellandur Lake for the pollution crown.
It is not that Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the custodian of the Ulsoor Lake, has not spent money to take up development works here. The BBMP spent crores of rupees all these years but it served no purpose. Neither the elected representative nor the BMBP engineer ever bothered to supervise the developmental works. “There was no dearth for the elected representatives visiting this lake. They used to forget their assurances as soon as they leave this place. Minister for Haj and Infrastructure Development R Roshan Baig, Mayor Manjunatha Reddy and corporator from Ulsoor ward, KSPCB Chairman Laxman visited this lake a few months ago. They announced of sanctioning funds to set up a sewage treatment plant (STP) but nothing has been done till now,’’ says Manjunatha N from Cox Town.
There is an African proverb which says Filthy water cannot be washed. But times are a changing and the proverb has been proved wrong by the efforts of the local civic authorities in partnership with private enterprise – It is learnt the Prestige Group has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the BBMP for the maintenance of Ulsoor Lake. “The MoU was signed in January 2016 for the maintenance of gardens, park and pathway for three years,’’ said Lt. Col. Sree Kumar P M (Retd), Senior Vice President, Property Management, Prestige Group.
After signing the MoU, the staff of Prestige Property Management & Services removed the weeds on both sides of the pathway and at the vacant spaces on the lake bund. The management has engaged eight people to keep the pathway clean and also to maintain the toilet block. “We have renovated the toilet block for the benefit of visitors. Our staff keep a vigil to avoid miscreants misusing the toilet,’’ said Lt. Col. Sree Kumar.
Path around the Ulsoor lake before
According to Lt. Col. Sree Kumar, the Prestige Group has engaged a UK-based consultant to carry out other developmental works at the Ulsoor Lake. “We have engaged a consultant to develop the Ulsoor Lake on par with international standards. The plan includes the development of islands in the lake, beautification of the roads in and around the lake, strengthening of the storm water drain to avoid sewage flowing into the lake, maintain the water body and improve water quality in the lake.”
Now, hundreds of people from surrounding areas visit this lake for a stroll in the morning and evening. “Now I am very happy to see the pathway clean. Earlier there were weeds here thus making difficult for the joggers to use the pathway,’’ said Pradeep S from Ulsoor who visits the lakeside in the morning for a stroll.
Path around the Ulsoor lake after
According to Purushotham V, president, Halasuru Lake Residents’ Welfare Association, the BBMP has taken up construction of a bridge to connect the pathway to Swami Vivekananda Park while the Prestige Group has taken up the maintenance of the pathway, the garden and Swami Vivekananda Park. “We have to be grateful to the Prestige Group. They are doing a wonderful job. They have more and more plans for the development of Ulsoor Lake,’’ says Purushotham.
Many visitors have expressed satisfaction over the cleanliness at the lake. They feel that they need not worry about the weeds, especially Parthenium hysterophorus, that are harmful to health. “I am happy with the cleanliness here. All these years I stopped visiting this lake due to the stink and unhygienic conditions here. Now the pathway is clean. I want the authorities concerned to improve the pathway. Whenever heavy rain lashes the city, the pathway becomes slushy thus making it tough for the people to walk on it. Covering the pathway with paving stones will help,’’ opines N S Ravi, president, Bharathinagar Residents’ Welfare Association.
With all these initiatives there is hope that the Ulsoor Lake is all set to regain its lost glory and enthuse the morning stroller all over again.
(This article was published in the recent issue of Karnataka Today Magazine)