Published: 16th March 2020
Water Warriors: Here's how this 17-year-old Bengaluru boy is saving Bellandur lake, one drop at a time
In 2020, things are looking better for Bengaluru's Bellandur lake and 17-year-old Gautam Dayal has a role to play in it
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear Bellandur lake? Ask this question to a regular Bengaluru millennial and be ready to hear them say 'froth, fire and pollution'. For obvious reasons, they cannot be blamed for that's all that they have seen and heard over the past few years. The lake had paid the price for the city's unplanned urbanisation and overpopulation post the IT boom. Years of pollution had made the lake frothy and its water unusable.
Growing up, Gautam Dayal woke up every day to this sight and wanted to do something to make a change. So, in 2018, when his school and the social innovation and future skills initiative organisation 1M1B piloted a programme called 'Future Leaders' and asked its students to look for local problems to work on, he did not think twice. The problem was right in front of him. Soon enough, this 17-year-old (then 15-year-old) set up an online and offline campaign called 'Save Bellandur Lake', mobilising citizens, activists and scientists to make more people aware and come up with feasible solutions. The campaign's website has a Twitter feed, an events page and a 'problem forum' for people to discuss the issues.
Two years down the line, this XI grader in The International School Bangalore has done a lot for the cause. "We have interviewed scientists and activists who explained the problem to us and suggested solutions. We have also conducted a lot of events to involve more people from the neighbourhood. This includes a tree planting event and talks on science and policy. Recently, we conducted a photography competition too," says Gautam. "Initially, it was just me but now, it's a larger group of concerned citizens. My school's Ecology group has also helped me a lot," he adds.
In 2020, things are quite different for the lake. Gautam tells us how. "Dumping of industrial waste and sewage was what was polluting the lake the most. Thankfully, that has been stopped. Now, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) are waiting for the lake to dry out so that they can desilt it," he says, adding that the idea was his lake group's, "They are also building a new sewage treatment plant and this will hopefully solve the problem soon."
Towards the end of our conversation, Gautam excitedly tells us about how he is going to interview a few 'lake marshalls' this coming week. "These are the people who live next to the lake and take care of the garbage and the environment. Most of the work that we do here is about bringing more people together," he says. Undoubtedly, Gautam is quite content with the developments. "I hope that the water in the lake becomes usable soon. The same techniques can be used to save the other lakes in the city," he says.
Reach Out: savebellandurlake.org