Thursday, October 28, 2004

From a smelly water body to a walkers’ paradise

Times of India

Bangalore: Hundreds turn up every day for their daily stroll, morning or evening as the case may be, around the rejuvenated Ulsoor lake. The desilting exercise of 2003 has seemingly changed the face of the water body. And to think that only two years ago people would consider a detour to avoid the stench. The lake spans close to 1.5 sq km. One of the watch towers erected by the legendary city founder Kempegowda in the sixteenth century stands nearby.

Frequent visitors may recall ‘unfinished’ promises of the government, which spent Rs 7 crore for the clean-up. Unfinished because plans to nurture gardens to beautify the islands once the desilting was over have not fructified for more than a year. Unfinished because there is still no “real’’ security blanket to keep away the dozens of slumdwellers who, every day, use the lake for defecation and the many who throw flowers, plastic and household garbage into the lake every day. Ironically, some arrive in cars to dump refuse. One pile floats in a corner opposite the MEG Gate with none to clear it. The walkers are a hardy community though and gather by 4 am to do their brisk rounds. Late-risers can be seen catching up after 8 am. The lake gives the Homeguards Department the course for its watermanship and other training programmes. Sappers of the Madras Engineering Group cut across another section.

Old loyals say the footpath needs to be rebuilt and dustbins in the vicinity should either be removed or cleaned regularly to prevent spillage from blowing into the lake. Some walkers suggest a safety fence, especially for children. One exercise freak was all thanks for the gravel surface for keeping him free of ankle or knee problems. There were also good words for the breeze that has come to replace the stench. The evenings see chaat and panipuri push carts catering to the romantic couple among other visitors. The year 2003 thankfully is history.


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