Friday, July 01, 2005

Adopting a lake

Adopting a lake
Associations are making an effort to conserve, beautify and maintain lakes in the city, and the LDA is supporting the cause
The Times of India

After parks, traffic islands, and bus shelters, lakes are now being developed under the public-private participation policy of the government. Bangalore, at one time known for its innumerable lakes all over the city, now has just a few to mention. While many went missing because of rapid urbanisation, all is not lost, thanks to some innovative initiatives of the Lake Development Authority (LDA).

The Authority, in its efforts to conserve lakes and save them from encroachment and pollution, developed several of them in the last few years. And now it is encouraging people to participate in conserving them. Says B K Singh, CEO, Lake Development Authority, "one of the stated objectives of the Lake Development Authority is to involve people in lake conservation works, and thus the 'Adopt a Lake Scheme' came into being. Ever since the scheme was mooted we have been receiving formal as well as informal requests from various resident associations, NGOs, charitable trusts, corporate bodies, educational institutions and other such organisations expressing their desire to participate actively including financial commitments in the objectives of protection and conservation of lakes".

Further, speaking on the scheme, he said, "this policy is for lakes situated in the midst of residential areas that are already restored or are to be restored primarily for their ecological value, with the help and active participation of local citizen committees, residents association, corporates and NGOs only. Where any of these groups come forward willingly to develop or maintain the lakes primarily for ecological conservation and protection purposes, they will be encouraged to do so, in return for some user fees for low impact activities like boating, walking, jogging, strolling etc. This will generate sufficient revenue for the development and further maintenance of the lake".

The Palm Meadows Residents' Association has recently taken over the 20-acre Sheelavanathakere situated in Whitefield under this scheme. R K Mishra, President of the Association, plans to develop the lake. He says, "first we are going to make storm water drains so that the rain water is led to the lake. Later, we will fence the lake area, develop the bund, make jogging tracks, construct an auditorium, and provide boating facility, but of course, all this will be done in stages. We estimate that the project is going to cost us around Rs 1-2 crores.

The LDA, while allowing people participation in conservation of lakes, is taking all precautionary measures to keep a tab on the developments. For example, the restoration and maintenance work of the lake to be adopted should be as per a plan to be submitted by the adopting agencies for approval to the LDA and regular inspection of the lake would be carried out.

The Authority will monitor the technical and financial progress of the sanctioned project regularly. It will advise the adopting agency on modifications to the plan, if any, found necessary at any stage. The entire cost of restoration and maintenance as per approved plans should be borne by the adopting agency. The Authority may also collaborate with the adopting agency regarding the development.

The LDA has made mandatory certain functions and has put certain conditions to which the adopting agency must adhere. It includes, appointment of watchers, regular removal of weeds, maintenance of the garden, electrical installations and other infrastructures, cleaning of silt-traps, waste weirs, vents etc, general protection of the lake, collection of gate fee etc. This would also include payment of electrical and water charges, and any other such charges as required for proper development, upkeep and maintenance of the lake. No commercial activity of any kind, including fishing, is permissible in the programme. Commercial activity would include running of fast food restaurants, ice cream parlours, coffee bars etc. Swimming in lakes is also prohibited. The only permissible activities for such lakes would be visits to the lake, park, jogging path, walk ways, and a limited number of peddle push boats.

Procedure for adopting a lake

Applications from interested groups for the selected lakes will be invited through newspapers and the LDA website (www.lakeauthority.com)

The selected adopting agency will have to sign an MOU with the Lake Development Authority

The adopting agency will have to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) for the lake and submit it to the Lake Development Authority for approval. The LDA will provide technical guidance in preparation of the DPR

If it is noticed at any time that the applicant bodies have encroached on the lake, their application will be summarily rejected apart from other actions as per law

Check the LDA website for the list of lakes that are available for adoption

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