Bengaluru: With lakes in Bengaluru dying a slow death, citizens in the city have decided to take it upon themselves to lead a united fight. From 99-year-old freedom fighter HS Doreswamy to young 31-year-old Kannada superstar Yash, they all got together for the United Bengaluru meet on Saturday at the Bengaluru Town Hall to find ways to safeguard Bengaluru lakes.
"Earlier, in rural areas, villagers and panchayat would protect their lakes. They would use mud from the lake for their fields and would make sure the lake was protected. That type of protection is not happening in the city. Here, it is more about construction than lakes and sometimes officers collude with the builders," Mr Doreswamy said at the forum.
The United Bengaluru meet is a common platform for people to learn from each other's experiences on the lake issue and work together for solutions.
Priya Chetty Rajgopal, a concerned citizen at the meet, told NDTV, "The lakes are a national issue now and I don't think we want to be famous for these things. The problem is that we lack a single stakeholder to resolve the issue. There's a lot of passing of the buck."
The participants came from different fields and shared their experiences of cleaning up the lakes and offered suggestions on how things can be improved.
"Sewage, construction debris in lakes is not a good thing. Anything that you dump into the lakes will attract a penalty of five lakh rupees....United Bengaluru will be a platform where citizens build pressure on officials to act. If they fail to act then we will put together a common pool of funds to take them to the courts," Sridhar Pabisetty of the Namma Bengaluru Foundation told NDTV.
Ashwin Mahesh, Urban Expert said, "Let's form working groups in each area where citizens and local officials together are responsible for continuous attention and the government guarantees budgetary support for what they come up with."
Actor Yash has funded the rejuvenation of a lake in parched north Karnataka. "I am a Bangalorean and I think it is everybody's responsibility to see what is going on in our city. It is my area of interest and I have started something in rural areas. We are rejuvenating lakes so we should have a clear understanding how to go about it. I want to encourage more people to come out and do their bit," he said.
The Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly, KB Koliwad, who is in charge of a special report on the city's lakes that has to be submitted by December, also extended his support to the platform. "I came here to acquire knowledge from the experts," he said.