Meet India’s ‘Lake Man’, a Bengaluru-based mechanical engineer on lake revival mission | Lifestyle News

Bengaluru is often seen as a slice of ‘new India’ within India. People from all over the country flock to this southern city, which is the capital of Karnataka, seeking job prospects, education and a better life.

But Bengaluru, which has also earned the moniker of Silicon Valley of India due to the famed presence of IT behemoths, is reeling under acute water scarcity now. India’s Silicon Valley has now become nearly unlivable, due to this. Earlier, due to the presence of a large number of lakes, it was even called the city of lakes. Not any more, as the tech capital scrambles for water.

A pond restored by Anand Malligavad in Bengaluru. Photo: X/@Uttupaaji

Though the administration has woken up a bit late to address the problem, the first step to tackle the issue of water scarcity is to revive the lakes, which are on its deathbeds. A one-man army named Anand Malligavad is out to make a change to such a scenario. A mechanical engineer by profession, Malligavad, now termed as “India’s Lake Man” by The New York Times, has been instrumental in reclaiming Bengaluru’s 33 lakes.

His fascinating story does not end there in Bengaluru. Malligavad has restored seven lakes in the temple town of Ayodhya, nine in Lucknow and 40 water bodies in Odisha. As a child, Malligavad’s fascination for a lake near home has become instrumental in his pursuit of reviving lakes.

That childhood fancy became a passion, thanks to a newspaper report Malligavad read in 2016. The gist of the report was that 21 of India’s big cities will face acute water shortage by 2030. He realised Bengaluru was among those cities. That prompted him to know more about the lakes in and around the city and contemplate their present state.

In 1960s, Bengaluru had around 290 lakes. Like the lake beds which shrunk, that number also fell drastically to 90 by 2017. And only just 10 per cent of those 90 lakes were useful for irrigation purposes. Malligavad vowed to do something about these water bodies, which form the crucial lifeline feeding Bengaluru’s water needs. That was an essential duty he had to do.

The mechanical engineer began his toil by devoting his evenings to this noble cause. He read literature about the state of lakes and studied the issue in detail. His attempt was to seek the help of corporates to revive these water bodies. After a relentless pursuit, Malligavada managed to garner RS 1 crore for this from the company he worked for.

After a muddy lake was cleaned. Photo:X/@SLSVPurpose

He initiated efforts to revive the 36-acre Kyalasanahalli Lake, which was in shambles. After he initiated awareness camps for those who stayed nearby, popular participation in his pet project increased.

With the help of locals and labourers, he managed to remove four lakh cubic metres of mud from the lake’s dry bed. Using that mud, he made tiny islands within the lake. These islands are now teeming with thousands of bird species and trees as the Kyalasanahalli lake restoration project in Bommasandra captured the nation’s fancy.

In the next rains, the waterbed of the lake, from which the huge pile of mud was removed, was afresh with water. The lake got back its natural habitat and its natural ecosystem got a fresh lease of life. Through similar efforts, he infused life into many dry lake beds which were shrinking into just piles of dry mud.

Corporates flocked to invest in Malligavada’s lake restoration projects, providing the much-needed financial capital. Malligavada’s modus operandi is to ensure the foundations of lakes are intact and revive them by resorting to ancient knowledge. He is able to protect the aquatic species as well as the local vegetation through the process.

A water body cleaned by Anand Malligavad. Photo: X/ ANI

As he goes on reviving water bodies staring at extinction, Malligavada’s motto is simple–learn to respect our natural resources. And lead a life which syncs in a friendly manner with nature. Limit the use of resources provided by nature only as much as we need. Preserve water. If possible, spend half of your life for you, and the rest for conservation. That is a lofty vision.

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