For over two decades now, Environment Support Group, Bangalore (ESG) has worked with multiple groups and agencies to promote wise rehabilitation of public commons such as lakes and rajakaluves across Karnataka. This has also involved working through Public interest Litigations (WP 817/2008 & WP 38401/2014 before the High Court of Karnataka) which resulted in advancing decentralised and democratic governance of lakes with direct involvement of local communities and also a special law to protect lakes and raja kaluves.
These efforts are to make Karnataka a region where all communities can benefit from water, food and livelihood securities based on the effective rehabilitation of tanks/lakes systems that have been crafted over centuries. These wetlands support rich biodiversity, play a significant role in harvesting rain water and in flood control, recharge ground water aquifers, arrest soil erosion and store water for use during the non-monsoon period – all at no major cost except that of maintaining them.
This is work in progress and there is plenty to be done to secure over 39,000 lakes left in the Karnataka (over 15000 have been lost over the past three decades alone). The High Court directives require the State Government to constitute District, Municipal and State Level Lake Protection Committees and to ensure they are accessible and responsive to local communities. Further, local communities, through Panchayats and Urban Wards, are encouraged to protect, rehabilitate and maintain lakes and raja kaluves in their jurisdictions by forming Lake Protection Committees. Alongside, revenue authorities are required to survey the legal limits of all lakes and raja kaluves and reclaim encroached areas; forest department is required to grow endemic vegetation in no development zones around lakes and kaluves; and various traditional rights associated with lakes is required to be protected by multiple agencies of the State and local governments.
At at time when the state swings from reeling under droughts and floods, the critical importance of rehabilitating our lake series and water systems cannot be overstated. This is also a way of avoiding the need for mega dams, which, as is well known, destroy rivers, forests, farms and human settlements. Research world over reveals that such mega projects do not deliver to their stated objectives and cause irreversible social, economic and ecological damage.
With climate change, the vicious cycle of floods and droughts is being experienced every year, resulting in destruction of farms, natural resources, villages, infrastructure and cities, and resulting in massive economic and social disparities.
In this context, ESG invites you to join a movement to save and rejuvenate each and every lake, pond, well, every stretch of raja Kaluve, everywhere across Karnataka from encroachment, degradation, pollution and decay. Lakes/tanks are gifts we have received from the past which we must pass on in a better state for the benefit of future generations. If we work collectively, it is possible to make Karnataka a water, food and biodiversity secure region that also builds healthy and sustainable livelihoods.
As a first step, we invite you to fill out this form expressing your intent to be a part of this 9 ‘K’ Movement to harvest and protect water and watersheds: Kere (Lake), Katte(Bund), Kunte (Pond), Kalyani (Sacred step wells), Kaluve (Canal), Kesaru (Wetland/Soil), Kavalu (Pastures), Kaadu (Forest) and Kayaka (Livelihood) movement.
We will get back to you soon with more details on how we can work with the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority, Lake Protection Committees, Local Governments, State agencies, etc. in realising the benefits of the High Court directions.