Anand Malligavad – Saviour Of The Dying Lakes Of Bangalore
Amidst India’s high-tech industrial city Bangalore, there lives a techie, Anand Malligavad, who is the savior of the dying lakes of Bangalore.
Once known as the city of lakes, Bangalore now has lost its natural treasure of water bodies. A total of 280 lakes and tanks has declined to only 34 lakes up and running, in the present scenario. Between the chaos, Anand has been working on the projects and has successfully saved three precious lakes. 36-acre Lake Kyalasanahalli, 9-acre Lake Vabasandra and 16-acre Lake Konasandra are now serving the city beautifully. Thanks to Anand Malligavad, who has dedicated his life to lakes.
Starting the project of Lake Kyalasanahalli
The first project he worked on was Kyalasanahalli Lake near Anekal, back in 2017. He used to work as the head of CSR activities at Sansera Foundation. It was the only organisation who funded the project with 1 crore and 17 lakhs. Anand, along with the ex-Vice President of Tata Steel, B Muthuraman, connected with the community. They became a team of almost 400 houses and spread awareness among others.
The plan started by removing 4 lakhs cubic meter of mud from the dry lake. Out of this, they built five islands across the lake surrounding with saplings of fruits and flowers. The islands also set out as an area for nesting to birds.
Proceedings of the Plan
Next, they filled the lake with water. Every monsoon the lake would fill up and then dries in the next nine months since past 30 years. But in first week of September 2017, Bangalore faced a record-breaking rainfall and filled up the lake in one shot. This made Anand to not stop and continue serving the nature.
The before and after scenario of Lake Kyalasanahalli This was followed by building forest area of 25,000 sq. ft. around the lake. 1,500 volunteers came along towards the mission. In a record time of 1 hour and 45 minutes, the team planted almost 5,000 plants. With this, they created two Japanese Miyawaki forest on the lake.
The water, if, used as a source of irrigation would harm the aquatic life.
Anand had to make sure that the water of rejuvenated lake would not be used in such a way. So, the people collectively also recharged 186 borewells for irrigation purposes.
Organizations across the world have tried multiple solutions including setting up Floating Islands, treatment plants, adding bacterial solutions, adding other chemical solutions, etc to restore water-bodies. It is critical to analyze and compare these solutions, derive objective and subjective conclusions and apply these solutions in real life conditions.
Challenges and Risks
Floating Islands aka Floating Wetlands aka Floating Treatment Wetlands are islands that float on water. They are made up of variety of materials including recycled plastic. Wetland plants are planted on top of these islands such as Canna, Cattails, Bullrush, Elephant Grass, Vetiver Grass, etc. These are water loving plants. As the plant grows, the roots of these plants extend beneath the island into the water. Biofilm (accumulation of friendly water cleaning bacteria) forms on the surface of the roots and underneath the island. This biofilm and plants take up nutrients from the polluted water and thereby clean the water. Plants also disperse Oxygen into the water to further aid this process. Aerobic, Anerobic and Anoxic processes take place under the island to remove all kinds of nutrients from the water. If there are a lot of nutrients in the water, algae begins to form on the surface of the water which with time covers the entire surface and eventually kills the lake. Floating Islands help counter the problem of algae as well.
Additional benefits that the floating islands provide are increasing the DO (Dissolved Oxygen) in the water-body which helps in sustaining aquatic life in the water-body. Floating Islands help provide habitat to insects, fishes, birds and all kinds of aquatic and terrestrial life forms. This helps restore the food chain and the ecosystem as a whole.
Floating Islands help increase the aesthetic appeal of the water-body. Flowering plants can also be planted on top of the island to add value to the landscape. All kinds of native plant species can be planted on top of the islands. There is no need of any special kinds of plant species. These plants also help uptake heavy metals from the water and therefore bio-accumulation of these toxic heavy metals.
Floating Islands can be implemented at lakes, rivers, nallahs, marine environment, city drains and all kinds of water-bodies. Floating Islands also help in increasing fish population and can therefore also be used in fisheries for better fish yield.
Floating Islands also help in storm-water treatment. Water during the monsoons carry a lot of sediments with it into the lakes and rivers. These islands act as barrier to the sediment rich waters and provide a downward direction to the particles in the water thereby aiding the process of settlement of solids from the water.
Floating Islands also help in reducing the effect of the waves and therefore also help in erosion control. These islands can help prevent erosion in marine environments, natural lakes, concrete channels in cities.
These islands can be manufactured in any size and can be customized based on the water-body. Recycled plastic is used to manufacture these islands which can help in controlling plastic pollution around water-bodies. Water level in lakes and rivers do not remain constant throughout the year and vary seasonally. Floating Islands adapt automatically and rise and fall with the fluctuating water level in the water-body.
Floating Islands are a natural, eco-friendly and green product which treats water without the use of machinery. It is easy to install and is extremely low maintenance. It can be installed and maintained by any layman/gardener. The Floating Islands need to be maintained similar to any terrestrial garden. It needs no full time attention or operator to run it. Also, not only it improves water quality but restores the lake as a whole since it also helps in restoring the entire ecosystem in and around the lake.
Aerators can be installed along with the Floating Islands to improve water quality and add Oxygen to the water. Fountains, surface agitators or diffused aeration can be coupled with Floating Islands to reduce the area required for treatment. Although it is not necessary to install aerators with the Floating Islands, aeration can help reduce area and cost of restoring a particular water-body.
The drawbacks of the Floating Islands systems is the lack of public awareness related to this product. A problem with water-bodies in Urban India is that there is no or little space near the lake or the river to setup Wastewater Treatment Plants to treat the wastewater entering into the water-body. In such a scenario, Floating Islands provide an additional benefit of using no additional area since they are installed directly over the water-body. Floating Islands also take more space than a conventional wastewater treatment plant. More work needs to be done on the design of these islands so as to improve the treatment efficiency so as to reduce the area required for treatment. Also heavy flow or other natural factors may damage the islands from time to time. Periodic maintenance may be required to maintain these islands.
Comparing Other Prospective Solutions
This project was to be done in 60 days, but with dedication and perseverance, they had successfully done it in only 45 days. But risks and challenges have always been a part of a successful mission. They faced a couple of those too.
Following Targets and Future Plans
After this, the following target was Lake Vabasandra which was funded by Hewlett-Packard with 75 lakhs. Within two months the lake lived again with 50 ft. deep water by the year 2018. Similarly, Lake Konasandra, one of the most poisonous lakes of the city, was funded by Hikal Ltd. with 81 lakhs. Anand Malligavad revived the lake within three months by 2019, himself.
From zero-drop water in the lakes and a spot for waste dumping transformed into serene and beautiful lakes serving the society, Anand has made his journey as a water conservationist. So far, he has succeeded in restoring four more lakes. 4-acres Lake Gavi in 2019, 5-acres Lake Manae, 19-acre Lake Nanjapura and 35-acre Lake Hadosiddapur, altogether in 2020.
He aims to rejuvenate 45 lakes by 2025. He has already planned his headways to restore 47-acre Lake Chikkanagamangala by November 2020 only, amidst the pandemic.
Anand suggests to think about your city, country and your planet and bring the changes in any way you can. Your small steps to save Mother Earth counts in.