Live the Lakes – A SAHE Initiative2 years ago Guest - Kalpana Ramesh
plant a sapling, plant a life
Hyderabad was once known as the city of lakes. Today we have lost most lakes to rapid urbanisation. Now only 162 of them are left and we are losing them to pollution. Live the Lakes is an initiative to connect communities to lakes and a serious effort to revive the surface waterbodies in our city,
The only source of water available to us is ground water, surface water and rain water. While ground water is going through massive depletion, surface water is getting over polluted and is ending up becoming poison pools.
Rainwater comes to us as a blessing every year, yet we fail to harvest it sensibly. With the population rising at a very steep rate (83 lakhs in 47 years), Hyderabad as a city is reaching exploding limits. Our city is under a lot of pressure, for basic needs, water being the number one.
Unless we as citizens put in our efforts, we will end up losing our water bodies. We will be left with nothing and will be forced to hand over a desert to our next generation. We have to undertake serious ground recharge using rainwater and adapt to grey water recycling, reduction and recharge.
Lakes are our largest catchment for rainwater and ground water recharge. Unfortunately our lakes have now become sewage mixed poison pools. Water from these poison pools seeps in to the bore aquifers in the immediate neighbouring communities, causing serious health hazards. It is our endeavour to sensitize communities around lakes through the entire cross section of the society, and make them ambassadors for the cause of saving our lakes.
If each one of us owns up our stretch of the lake, we can turn an ugly public space into a beautiful master piece in the midst of nature and save the biodiversity of the lakes. Turning poison pools to interesting public spaces where the entire community can enjoy nature, is almost forgotten, given our fast paced life styles. Children no longer have access to beautiful natural spaces and nature as art of growing up.
This initiative has the following key activities:
- Organise: Several NGOs and volunteer groups have come together to align and amplify the efforts towards lake conservation and greening
- Identify Lakes: Worked with GHMC and the Irrigation department toidentify the 62 lakes in Serilingampally area as the initial target to
restore and conserve. Strong support from GHMC and Irrigation
department is in place
Approach: Our effort is to not only to conduct clean-up, awareness and
plantation drives, but also have engaged a group of planners and Architect researchers. They will be required to come up with a holistic development plan for the lakes, including cheaper and efficient methods of sewage treatment through natural and organic methods and send this treated water to the lake. We do not believe in diverting sewage as that means only shifting the problem elsewhere. Finding solutions at source and discharge points, working productively with the government to achieve this and creating access points for all the communities around to effectively enjoy the lake and its surrounding area
Live the Lakes idea trigged at TEDxHyderabad – Civic Responsibility Salon event while discussing about under broader topic “Water” and we have two other Community initiatives Save10KBores and Step Well Restoration which are also triggered in “Civic Responsibility” Salon Event
- Two primary targets are Resident Welfare Associations andNeighbourhood Associations. Start with identifying apartment complexes, societies and even local communities (like fishermen) around few lakes
- Meet with the leaders and explain the desperate need to preserve our lakes. Once we have them on-board, we connect them with government officials to arrive at a plan. Communities can take the lead, engaging their local citizens and government to help accelerate those plans already in place for each lake
- Engage with the people in those communities through community awareness drives, kids activities like painting contest on water and lake clean-up drives
- Connect local GHMC/sanitation workers with the community to thank them for the service they render and offer help in ensuring lakes are cleaner and not littered
- Work with government to complete the lake bund strengthening and other items like treatment plants
- Encourage local communities to use the lake bund (social fencing), start with a greenery drive to plant trees and create walking tracks and encourage their use and maintenanceResults in the first month
We have started with three lakes – Kudikunta (beyond Chirec school, Kondapur) and Gopi Cheruvu (behind Doyens, Lingampally), and Regula Kunta (at Deeptisri nagar, near Alwynn X roads, Miyapur)
- Identified communities and associations in each of these three lakes and got them fully engaged
- Got GHMC DC & JC to these lakes, interacted with the communities to discuss how to treat the sewerage, secure the lakes (fencing) and bind strengthening efforts
- Kudikunta lake, community successfully took up a lake clean-up drive and the following day GHMC completed the fencing work around the lake
- Gopi cheruvu, the Doyens association and the neighbouring slum community came together to jointly work on the lake. Dr. Ravi from GHMC has visited and offered to help from GHMC on open drainage and low-cost treatment plans. There are plans afoot to clean the drains, lift garbage that is accumulated, and also arrange for regular garbage pickup
- Schools in the vicinity of Gopi Cheruvu are engaged and they have offered to put up CCTV to monitor the lake area next to school
- Decent interest from media has resulted in many communities from other parts of the city reaching out and asking to join to take up lakes in their areas
- We have got companies like Greenko who have come forward to support our initiative on green drive and tree translocation effortsPlan Going Ahead
- A volunteer team of architects and planners are starting to put together a development plan around the lake bunds to get local communities to partake in activities around the lake
- Take these plans to GHMC, as the DC/JC have l have already offered to help with execution within their scope
- GHMC zonal commissioner offered to sign an MOU for the lake and has started now. The model to be adapted should be one where all work together to make these three lakes an NGO – Community- Government model for further lake restoration
- Engage the industry through the association – HYSEA. Initial discussions have been positive. Like last year’s 25 lakh tree drive, plan a Lake Greenery drive in August, with industry contributing funds, effort and volunteer time
- Actively engage the local communities thru and post clean-up
About Kalpana Ramesh:
Interior/ furniture designer
Passionate to revive water bodies and improve ground water situation in a big way that will benefit communities and future generations.
Known for get communities together to work for a cause in the most methodical and professional manner to a holistic restoration