The new year 2019 promises to be a landmark year for Mahadevpura Parisara Samrakshane Mattu Abhivrudhi Samiti (MAPSAS) in lake rejuvenation and sustenance.
The efforts to rejuvenate Kaikondrahalli Lake and Lower Ambalipura – the first lakes MAPSAS got involved with – started a decade ago in 2009. From a motley group of citizens who came together to envision a participatory and progressive way of managing our water resources in the form of lakes, some of us made a Trust called MAPSAS (Mahadevpura Parisara Samrakshane Mattu Abhivrudhi Samiti).
We have taken more and more lakes in the neighborhood under our ambit. Some citizens originally involved with these lakes left and new ones joined but having environmentally sustainable, socially just and economically viable solutions for our lakes has steadfastly been our mainstay.
The team has withstood the test of a decade of work in a politically-hostile and socially-challenging environment and our successes in such a volatile environment has garnered praise in national and international academic publications, journalistic works, non-profit groups and also from the Niti Ayog Ministry, which nominated one of our lakes (Kaikondrahalli) as one of the two model lakes for lake rejuvenation and eco-restoration in all of India.
But we are not gloating because in this last decade we have also faltered a lot and made mistakes. But we consistently have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off and moved forward. We have had a lot of learning for this decade-long association with lake management and chief among these have been the following:
a) Community participation is key to managing our resources
b) Private donations and financial contributions, though important, cannot and should never replace the government’s responsibility to govern our commons.
c) Having multiple stakeholders, who use and care for the lakes is necessary to build resilience for our lakes and commons.
d) A strong core team of community volunteers is key to leading the way towards an inclusive and enlightened approach to management of our lakes.
e) Our lakes are not just about water, but it is also about the flora, fauna, the air and the people — those who get their livelihood/sustenance from these lakes as well as the people who use the lake for recreational reasons.
f) Long term preservation of lakes will be ensured only when government and quasi-government agencies make significant policy level decisions to preserve and protect these lakes.
We have done well in several of the above parameters and continue to strive to do better.
This year we are taking a huge leap forward by working in a more robust way with the government and quasi-government bodies. We have actively worked with the BBMP lakes team to ensure that the government takes over the basic maintenance of the lakes with garden and security personnel. It is the government’s responsibility to do this and we have picked up the slack for many years where MAPSAS raised money and hired such resources.
Over the last couple of years MAPSAS has slowly worked with BBMP Lakes team and has gotten it to assign a few home guards and occasional teams of garden contractors. This year the security personnel and garden team will be fully funded by tax payer’s money— BBMP will provide the entirety of gardeners and security guards at Kaikondrahalli lake, Kasavanahalli Lake and Soul Kere. This will start in effect from January 1, 2019. Citizens will continue to work with the BBMP lakes department who have continuously been receptive of so many management ideas that we have put forth in the past and present.
Visitors will see some difference between our private guards and home guards in terms of punctuality, effort and effectiveness. You may see some differences in the maintenance of the greenery in and outside the water, but please know that all these are necessary steps in building resilience and keeping the governance of lakes within our government’s mandate and responsibility. Over time the more responsibility that we place on the government’s doorstep the more they will respond to taking up these responsibilities.
MAPSAS will still be the community stakeholder at these lakes continuing the important participatory initiatives for the betterment of educational, social and environmental aspects of the lakes. MAPSAS will work actively with the government, community and private donors, to make our lakes places that will be significant parts of our neighborhood life. We will have many value-adds that will not be funded by the government.
Wish you all a very good new year 2019 — we look forward to having more people come forward to work with us to put thought and energy into these wonderful and important community resources that we are so lucky to have amidst us.
Note: This note was prepared by Team MAPSAS and was orignally published on their Facebook Page. It has been republished here with permission.