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Meet mechanical engineer Anand Malligavad, who left his job to revive Bengaluru’s dying lakes

"In 2015, I read an article that Bengaluru will soon become a zero-water city like Cape Town and it will have huge water scarcity. I started studying about why the city is going dry," he said.

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
January 17, 2022 5:30:10 pm
Anand MalligavadMalligavad has so far rejuvenated 12 lakes. (Source: Anand Malligavad/Instagram)

Bengaluru, also known as the ‘Silicon Valley‘ of India, was once aptly known as the ‘land of lakes’ because of the large number of lakes in the city. However, due to rapid urbanisation, the city has now lost its earlier glory to concrete with hundreds of such lakes on the brink of dying. This has also led to a huge water crisis in one of the biggest cities of the country.

These lakes have been, since time immemorial, the backbone of the city’s water resources and need to be protected. Rejuvenating and reviving them is Bengaluru-based mechanical engineer Anand Malligavad, who left his job to save water in the city, one lake at a time.

“My primary school was in a lake bed because of which I used to spend a lot of time near the lake. That’s how my connection with lakes developed,” Malligavad told indianexpress.com.

He moved to Bengaluru in 1996 when the city was untouched by the throes of urbanisation. “That time, the city hadn’t grown much, every home had a well and we used to get the best quality water. Over a period of about 10-15 years, things changed.”

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View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Anand Malligavad (@anandmalligavad) 

What led Malligavad to begin thinking towards lake rejuvenation in the city? It was the increasing water crisis in the city which was once replete with water resources. “In 2015, I read an article that Bengaluru will soon become a zero-water city like Cape Town and will have huge water scarcity. I started studying about why the city is going dry,” he said.

“I realised that out of 1,000 lakes, about 450 were destroyed in the name of urbanisation. Over a period of time, the complete ecosystem got destroyed due to infrastructure-building over these lakes. That’s why flooding started and underground water went down up to 1,000 ft. Earlier, we used to get best-quality water at 10-20 ft which is no longer the case.”

This led him to think of ways to bring back the lost lakes of the city. “In 2016, I started researching about lakes. I studied hundreds of lakes and started understanding soil, topography, shape, catchment area and other things. Then, I decided to rejuvenate a 36-acre lake located near my office,” Malligavad explained.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Anand Malligavad (@anandmalligavad) 

However, the road to this huge task wasn’t an easy one. He was informed that rejuvenating such a huge lake would require around 10-15 crores and could take up around 1.5 years. He lacked both — time and resources. But, he refused to give up!

He said, “After thorough research, I devised a way through which I could rejuvenate a lake in less than 1 crore and in less than 45 days. In April 2017, I began working on it and rejuvenated it in 45 days, at a cost of fewer than 95 lakh. This is how the journey started.”

“Over a period of time, along with the job, I could rejuvenate three lakes. Then I resigned from my job and started working as a lake conservationist full-time. As of now, I’ve rejuvenated 12 lakes and two are in progress,” he told indianexpress.com, elaborating the work done so far.

Malliagavd also faced numerous challenges in his journey. From difficulty getting funds from the corporates to engaging communities — it wasn’t a smooth ride but he eventually overcame them to make a significant difference with his work towards lakes conservation in Bengaluru.

“I want to spread the knowledge of the ecological way of rejuvenating lakes — in less time and cost. I’m working with colleges, schools, companies and online mediums to bring forward this knowledge,” he concluded.

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