BENGALURU: Taking their social responsibility seriously, several corporate companies, including Biocon, Wipro, the UB group and Mphasis came forward on Monday to revive and protect the remaining 100 odd lakes of Bengaluru and wetlands in cities across Karnataka.
While four companies signed an Expression of Interest (EoI) to develop the city’s lakes at a workshop conducted by the Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment and the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA) in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) , another six to eight companies are expected to soon pitch in to save the state's surviving water bodies.
Biocon signed an Expression of Interest to develop the Hebbagodi lake, Wipro , to protect the Maragondanahalli lake in Channasandra, the UB group , to do the same for Bommanahalli lake and Mphasis , to revive the Mahadevapura lake.
A senior KLCDA official said now that it had received the Expression of Interest from the companies, a detailed project report would be drawn up in about three to four months to help them move forward.
“ The companies will sign the MoUs only after the detailed project report is prepared. Also, the concerned custodian's permission will have to be taken as the company in question will completely take care of the lake’s development,” he explained.
According to the records of the KLCDA, the city had around 278 lakes covering 40 hectares in 1986, but today has only 210 , which are in the care of the BBMP, BDA, the state’s forest department and the lake development authority itself.
“We have lost many of our lakes for various reasons. But the future is in our hands. With corporate companies and industries coming forward there is hope of the lakes getting a new lease of life in the city and across the state," said minister for forest, ecology and environment, B Ramanath Rai.
Mr Ravi Raghavan, chairman of the CII, noted that as much as 39 per cent of the state's population lived in urban areas and this could go up to around 28 million in the next 20 years.
"This rapid urbanisation has already placed massive stress on the city’s lakes. CII has taken up many water conservation projects across the country and would like to do the same in Karnataka. Around 10 to 12 companies have already shown interest in developing lakes in the city," he added.
Mr T M Vijaya Bhaskar, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment explained that the corporates could take up development of lakes in full or in consortium in Bengaluru and 10 other cities of the state.
“This gives them, an opportunity to take up CSR activity in lake conservation. The BWSSB will complete the ongoing 575 MLD sewage treatment plants across the city in three or four years while the corporates revive the lakes simultaneously," he added.
A senior scientist, who has done research on the Western Ghats, Dr Kasturirangan said the state government had accepted his suggestion for creation of biodiversity parks here on the lines of the extremely successful Yamuna Biodiversity Park in Delhi, created by Prof C R Prabhu.
"We called Prof Babu to the city and surveyed four lakes with his help. Finally , the Madiwala lake was chosen for the project. The government has already approved a list of 21 different works for the biodiversity park at a cost of Rs 24.7 crore. It will take about two or three years for the changes to take effect," he explained, adding that the biodiversity park would not only help in lake conservation and bringing back lost flora and fauna, but also in environmental education and eco-tourism. It could also prove to be a living laboratory for more research.