Mysore/Mysuru: Aiming to mobilise public action to preserve the endangered lakes and canals of Mysuru, such as the encroached Dewan Poornaiah Canal, Bogadi Lake Rajakaluve and the constructions above the Lingambudhi Lake Rajakaluve, a phased people’s movement is taking shape in the form of ‘Janagraha Chaluvali’ and ‘Naale (Canal) Habba.’
To formalise these efforts, members of the Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) convened at the MGP Office in Yadavagiri recently.
Noted water conservationist and wetland expert U.N. Ravikumar elucidated the problems caused by the encroachments on Dewan Poornaiah Canal and the Lingambudhi Lake Rajakaluve.
The encroachments have resulted in flooding whenever it rained, causing untold misery to the residents. The Dewan Poornaiah Canal serves as the main feeder Canal, supplying fresh water to Kukkarahalli Lake and runs between Bogadi and SBM Layout. Originally spanning 22 kms, only 2.5 kms of the Dewan Poornaiah Canal remains today due to unscientific development practices and environmental disregard, Ravikumar noted.
In the 1980s, rampant construction activities in Vijayanagar and Bogadi led to the destruction of this historic Canal that was built to supply fresh water to Kukkarahalli Lake from Bommanahalli Lake near Huyilalu village.
Only 2.5 kms Poornaiah Canal remains
Presently, only 2.5 kms of the Canal still exists behind Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering (SJCE) and near Bogadi Road Bridge. Encroachments on the Canal have disrupted the natural flow of water, causing flooding in the layouts during rainfall, with water taking days to recede, he explained.
Recent instances of unprecedented rains, attributed to climate change, impacting regions, heightened these concerns. In response, residents of the Railway Colony, including professionals, expressed a keen interest in actively pressuring the Government to address the encroachment issue.
“Pressure must be mounted on the District Administration to take control of the remaining 2.5 kms of the Canal so that at least 30 percent of the fresh rainwater naturally flows into the Kukkarahalli Lake. During the planned ‘Naale Habba,’ people must be made aware of how their localities are flooded with just two to three hours of rain as there is no space for the rainwater to enter the canals as the canal routes are blocked by buildings and homes. Instead, the rainwater flows on roads and drains, clogging them,” Ravikumar opined.
Ready for legal battle
There were suggestions from participants for the MGP to be ready for a legal battle wherever the options are open and also involve the local political leaders and other stakeholders in the fight. Moreover, every day, over 3,000 walkers come to the Kukkarahalli Lake and they must be convinced to take part in the public movement, the participants suggested.
During deliberations, some activists suggested refraining from demanding the complete restoration of the entire 22-kilometre Poornaiah canal, citing potential delays in the process. In contrast, they argued that a powerful message should be sent, asserting that any encroachment or illegal structures would be removed by advocating for the full restoration of the canal.
Bhamy V. Shenoy said that despite the urgency to commence work on clearing the canal, the Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA) displayed no interest. Delays in releasing funds to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) were cited as examples.
While engaging political leaders and elected representatives is valuable for garnering support to restore the canal, it was strongly emphasised that significant public involvement is essential, participants felt.