More than 150 environment activists under the banner of ‘Kukkarahalli Kere Ulisi Samithi’ staged a silent protest in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s Office this morning against the desilting and de-weeding works of the iconic Kukkarahalli Lake by the District Administration and the University of Mysore.
The protest was staged from 10.30 am to 1.30 pm to draw the attention of the authorities. It may be recalled here that the University of Mysore and the district administration are jointly implementing the Rs. 3 crore project of which Rs. 65 lakh has been reserved exclusively for desilting. The work on the lake started on Feb. 14 and the authorities are planning to construct toilets, boating jetty, entry arches and shelters on the tank bund.
Once the silt is removed, the lake is expected to hold more water. However, those opposing the project say that desilting during summer will deplete the water level and will kill the bird species.
Among the organisations and people involved in today’s protest were Mysore Grahakara Parishat, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Tiger Foundation, students from Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts (CAVA), University Hostel Students, bird-watchers and walkers.
As per the decision taken at the protest venue, if the district administration and the University of Mysore authorities do not stop the works immediately, a human chain will be formed at the place tomorrow where the desilting works are being undertaken and activists will squat in front of the earth movers (JCBs). The protesters also said that they will be forced to knock the doors of law courts as the works are against environment provisions.
Addressing the protesters, water expert U.N. Ravikumar, who is also the member of Kukkarahalli Lake Advisory Board, said that the desilting works in summer will cause irreparable damage to the water body. “It is illogical and unscientific to desilt the lake in summer as the water will get spread and will be absorbed or vaporised. This will kill thousands of birds, butterflies and fish,” he said.
Ravikumar alleged that a technical committee to study the impact of development works was not formed before the works began. “There are over 80 species of butterflies and more than 100 bird species including 40 rare species that depend on the lake for food, nesting and breeding. All of them are threatened now,” he said. The administration has not been able to prevent sewage entry into the lake and has not cleaned the feeder channels, he added.
Later, the protesters submitted a memorandum to DC Office Tahsildar Naragunda. Major General (Retd.) S.G. Vombatkere announced that U.N. Ravikumar will hold a session on saving Kukkarahalli Lake on March 5, 5.30 pm at the Institution of Engineers, JLB Road.
S.G. Sahukar, M.M. Shenoy, Shashi Bhushan, Asha Vombatkere, Uma Shenoy of Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP), Dr. Rathi Rao of PUCL, Dr. M. Madhusudhan of Kukkarahalli Kere Ulisi Samithi, D.H. Thanuja and others were present.
MGP seeks alternative plan
The MGP has said that the idea of converting the Kukkarahalli Lake lake into a ‘tourist attraction’, lacks vision.
The Executive Committee of the MGP has decided to initiate a process to evolve and implement a comprehensive eco-friendly development plan as an alternative, with the objective of sustaining the lake for a longer time and making it a unique destination for migratory birds and a habitat for varied fauna and flora.