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RCB has been involved in the restoration of a lake in Challahalli near Rajakunte, and is now planning to take up a meaningful project for restoration of another lake. In this context we thought it would be very interesting to listen to the experiences and success stories of other Rotary Clubs of Bangalore in this regard.

On Monday, March 1 we had a very informative panel discussion on the topic – restoration of Koira Lake in the north by the Rotary Bangalore Raj Mahal Vilas (RCRMV) led by its IPP Rtn. Sanjay Krishna, and revival of the Manne Lake in the south by the Rotary Bangalore Indira Nagar (RB-IN) led by its IPP Rtn. Manoj Agarwal. Here is a brief of their stories:

Koira Lake: As a first step, RC-RMV, using Club funds (_4 lakhs), contracted a technical consultant to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) based on a topographic survey and a study of the soil condition. Phase-1 of lake rejuvenation consisting of soil excavation (dredging), desilting, trengthening of bunds and construction of inlets and outlets was completed successfully before the rainy season in spite of delays due to Covid-19 lockdowns. They established a Rotary Community Corp (RCC) involving local youth who took a lead role in assisting and supporting the efforts. After the rains, the lake is now full benefiting the local farmers, restoring wetlands and recharging the ground water in this stone quarry area. Last month they were able to identify 65 different species of birds in the rejuvenated lake. Sankranthi was celebrated with paddy harvested locally. In the next phase they hope to focus on planting trees and reforestation.

Manne Lake restored by RB-IN. DPR was funded by the Club. Additional _9 Lakhs was mobilized by five students of Vidyashilp Academy using the crowdfunding platform, “Fuel a Dream”. The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) also provided some support. Manne family which had opened this lake for the public, made a contribution for its beautification and tree planting. They

managed to hire equipment and procure diesel at discounted rates through Rotary connections. Based on the success of this restoration the RB-IN is now preparing to take up two more lakes for restoration. In both cases, Anand Maligvad, a prominent lake restoration activist, helped at various stages including feasibility study, fund mobilization and supervision.

Lessons learnt:

There was a lively question and answer session facilitated by Rtn. Dileep Pillai. It is better to focus on peri-urban/rural lakes as they will directly benefit the farmers, easier to restore and more cost  ffective. Rural lakes require only earthen bunds and no concrete/steel fencing. On the other hand, restoration of urban lakes is complicated due to sewage issues, land mafia and other vested interests. An integrated approach should be taken beyond just desilting and bunds. Since Rotary International has now added Environment as a 7 avenue of service, there is also a scope for applying for global funding. This should serve as a motivation for RCB to continue its efforts to rejuvenate lakes and other water bodies.

Rtn. E. G. P. Haran

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