A citizens’ initiative to save Kelgeri

Ramanpreet Monga

LONG back, providence had decided for us to relocate from Delhi to Dharwad. Here, amid dearth of friends and relatives, we found solace in a sequestered, man-made lake named Kelgeri, which is over 100 years old. My husband and I would love spending our evenings there, sitting and ruminating on the broad steps descending into its murmuring water. Spread over 230 acre, the lake captures the beauty of pastoral life with a verdant island in the middle, where cattle can be seen scampering and grazing over its pastures.

It was always enchanting to watch the incessant rolling of its waters, synchronised magically with the wafting wind and clouds. To boot, the sight and sound of warbling birds filled us with delight. On certain evenings, the entire landscape would bathe in heavenly tinctures of gold and crimson radiating from the descending sun.

A few years later, Dharwad became the birthplace of my son. When he started walking, we would bring him to the lake. He loved hopping and running all across its promenade. He would pelt stones with his tiny hands into the water and then be enthralled at the formation of ripples. He would keenly observe some jaunty urchins diving into the lake and would be inquisitive about people patiently reclining and fishing around us.

Gradually, with passing years, we began observing an increase in the footfall and subsequently, a surge in the squalor around. It nettled us to see how such a resourceful lake was being sullied with tattered clothes, plastic bags, broken beer bottles and pouches of tobacco. The beautiful lake started languishing with receding water levels and the teeming water hyacinth, conspicuous on its fringes.

Recently on a walk, we observed a group of people diligently pulling out weeds and gleaning garbage from the lake. Upon enquiring, we found out that they were a bunch of childhood friends who were there voluntarily to clean the lake. A gush of joy and hope engulfed us. A few bystanders clicked their pictures and floated it on social media. Soon, many like-minded citizens, volunteer groups, organisations and authorities, who wanted to contribute in the restoration and rejuvenation of their beloved lake signed up for active participation and contribution (shramdaan) every Sunday morning.

Today, people are determined not to let the fate of the Kelgeri lake chime with the fate of other less-fortunate lakes of the state. Citizens in great numbers are participating and utilising their otherwise indolent Sunday mornings as a resourceful social outing with their friends and families, picking up garbage and pulling out weeds from the lake. The conversations enliven the atmosphere and also lead to brainstorming of some great ideas for the lake’s long-term revival and sustenance. Today, we are happy to be a part of this exemplary citizen-led campaign. More campaigns like these will certainly lead to the preservation of our water bodies.

Source Link: https://www.tribuneindia.com

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