Munnekolala Lake restoration progresses

Restoration work at the Munnekolala Lake in the AECS Layout near Marathahalli began about three months ago, but not before several months of pursuing the BBMP, the custodian of the lake, to save it.

The AECS Layout actually has a set of three lakes, known to residents as the “Chinnappanahalli lakes”. The Munnekolala Lake, at 15.38 acres is the largest of them. The smaller 11.33 acre Chinnappanahalli Lake (located behind CMRIT College) was already restored by the BBMP in around 2010 and is currently being looked after by the Chinnappanahalli Lake Development Trust. The third lake, according to area residents is “eaten up”. People have built houses on the erstwhile lake bed and though it is government property, nothing has been done to recover the encroached lake.

Location of Munnekolala and Chinnapanahalli Lakes

Location of Chinnapanahalli and Munnekolala Lakes

The sincere and large team of the Munnekolala Lake Restoration Association (MLRA), has been working closely with the BBMP to bring the Munnekolala Lake back to life. Mr Jai Prakash Singh (referred to as JP), Chairman of MLRA, said that this lake is also encroached but with a view to stopping any more lake area getting lost to litigation, they pushed for getting the boundary fencing completed for what remained of the lake.  

Munnekolala Lake before restoration 26-Jan-2013

Munnekolala Lake before restoration 26-Jan-2013

Munnekolala Lake 26-Jan-2013, before restoration

The next step in the restoration effort was to divert the sewerage line that was feeding the lake. Yes, one of the most sinful things from the early days of the development of AECS Layout was the “official” dumping of sewage of the whole area into the lake. This was a major hurdle to overcome but working with the BWSSB and local political representatives, now the sewage has been diverted to the main sewage line flowing away from the lake. Then the lake was drained completely and excavated.

Currently, bundhs have been made and bundh fortification work with stones is in progress. The speed of work has been good and MLRA is hopeful that it won’t be long before the cranes and other birds come back to this home that was once theirs. “There were thousands of fish eating birds seen perching around this lake. The inhabitation and dangerously contaminated water drove them and we want those lovely companions in our lives back here – they looked so good”, says JP.

Munnekolala Lake restoration in progress 13-Jul-2013

Munnekolala Lake restoration in progress 13-Jul-2013

Munnekolala Lake restoration in progress 13-Jul-2013

JP is full of appreciation for the BBMP officers BV Satish (Chief Engineer, BBMP Lakes) and Brijesh Kumar (Chief Conservator of Forests, BBMP). He says, “Their commitment, sensitivity and openness (towards listening to and accepting the suggestions and involvement of the members of the society) has been exemplary and we are really grateful that people of that vision and view are currently in the chair.”

There are plans for an island in the middle of the lake with appropriate trees (like at Ranganathittu) to allow bird nesting. While planting trees, every effort will be made to procure and plant the right trees. They will also try to implement the learnings from the restorations at other lakes. As JP says, “The lake work will be done only once and perhaps never again. We (MLRA), along with the active support of BBMP, are doing our best bits to ensure counting one more good lake in our beloved city.”

Photos: Courtesy Mr Jai Prakash Singh, Munnekolala Lakes Restoration Association
Thanks to Ms Kala Sunder and Ms Sakuntala Narasimhan for bringing this story to our attention.

Comments:

  1. Arun Tilak says:

    this is a very good initiative and I stay very close to this lake and saw some development activities going on… was wondering whether anyone encroached and plan to build apartment… I have a suggestion that neighboring communities should also actively participate in these initiatives as they are the ones who should further safeguard the lake from moving into previous state….

  2. Ragavan Iyengar says:

    To “JP” + Satish & Brijesh ; pls keep up the good work. Society badly needs social entreprenuers like you’ll. The joy of reviving a near dead lake and bring it to life is awesome. Did that for a water well at my new home in Chennai and saw how nature replenishes when it feels loved…..

  3. JP Singh says:

    I am thankful to Arathi for bringing out the effort that is in progress with the leading support of the BBMP. The association membership size has grown to be more than 150 people from AECS Layout area, and nearby apartments like Purva Riviera, Rohan Vasantha and a few others. However, there have been some members of the core-team who have been live-wires and source of energy in making various efforts including maintaining contact with the BBMP authorities without whose support it would really be difficult to take on such tasks. While the BBMP authorites like Mr Brijesh Kumar, CCF-BBMP, and MR BV Satish, CE-BBMP, have been at their best, the ‘live-wire’ members like Mr Gopal (senior most among us but with inexhaustible energy – also a member of Ward 85) , Ms Kumudha, Mr Kumar, Mr Anand and few others have been amazing with their dedication, ideas and firm commitment. The ‘transformation’ seen in the photographs is the result of all such people from society and government bodies who have been generous enough to spare thoughts and efforts beyond the confinements of their own lives. I solute them for their looking ‘beyond’ and for taking me along in doing this good.

  4. Sanjay Vijayaraghavan says:

    Thanks for the writeup. I look forward to another beautiful lake in the area. Could you write about where this third “eaten up” lake was supposed to be located?

  5. Arathi Manay Yajaman says:

    The third lake would have been north of Chinnappanahalli Lake. It is said to be present in old survey maps, but I’m yet to see them for myself.

  6. atul says:

    Hi Arathi,

    We stay in a new apartment besides purva riveira- in the silver springs layout (spice garden compound), we want to know whether we will have access to the lake/walking area as the lake boundary is immediately next to out apartment

  7. Arathi Manay Yajaman says:

    atul – the right person to contact about the plans for the lake and any other queries/ concerns is JP .

  8. JP Singh says:

    Response to Atul’s post : The lake is a public lake. The association consists of volunteers who are members of society like any of you – only with a difference that they have a strong feeling for what this or any lake means and are willing to take trouble to take the pains to extricate themselves from the business of life for a while, run around and also spend some money in the process. The association itself has no legal authority to allow or disallow any member of public. BBMP controls the lake. However, in recent times registered trusts or associations have been given responsibility to “look after” the lake and ensure proper use of it. With this, the answer to your question is that your right to enjoy the lake in appropriate manner is and will be as much as that of even the volunteers who are associated with this work.

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