Hessarghatta Lake- on it's last legs !
The Hesaraghatta Lake has seen its better days, and now much of what is left is a small pond outlined by a sterile stretch of sandy bed. This freshwater reservoir was created in the year 1894 across the Arkavathy River to meet the drinking-water needs of the Bangalore city, but over the last few years, human encroachment has endangered its very existence.
Appraisal of the deteriorating impacts reveals that an extensive network of vehicle tracks is responsible for the detrimental condition of this freshwater ecosystem. About 136 hectare of habitation is reported to be disturbed because of vehicular movement on an average. The other sources of destruction include sand mining, movement of tractors, tree plantations, grazing of cattle, waste disposal, continuous silting, and erosion in the catchment area.
Even though the reservoir has almost dried up and is no longer a reliable water resource, the seasonal migration of birds is still a major attraction in Hesaraghatta. In recent years, the Lakebed has seen an increased number of bird photographers who drive all the way on the grasslands chasing migratory birds like kingfisher, magpie robin, Brahmini kites, black drongos, purple sunbirds, etc... This has expanded the vehicle pathway to 43 km altogether, with the average track width measuring up to 1.62 meters.
Apart from the vehicle menace, lack of concern is also a functional contributor to the deterioration of lake. Experts say that the villagers are not much concerned about the lake health, possibly because it doesn’t impact them directly. They channel heards of cattel and goats to graze on the grassland, and themselves use the lakebed as a public toilet. In the periphery of lake, you would find non biodegradable wastes materials like beer cans, plastic bags and bottles thrown here and there that severely affects the quality of ecosystem.
I recently visited hesaraghatta lake to investigate the matter and measure the amount of destruction that has been done as of yet. While I found the area to be abundant in natural beauty, the sights of disfigured landscape were not uncommon. Burning grasslands, open dumping of wastes, speeding four-wheelers, bird traps, helpless eagles, beer cans and drunken peoples were some of the things I witnessed amidst the beautiful nature. I saw a team of photographers who were chasing a Brahimini kite in full enthusiasm in a four-wheeler, and finally pursued it! Wow what an achievement! But don’t you think saving a habitation for posterity is worth more than getting the close-up take of a kite or eagle? To get the shot, one can walk up to those birds rather than charging into their habitat in SUVs.
As a nature enthusiast, I’m deeply concerned about the deteriorating ecosystem of Hesaraghatta. I wrote this article for the soul purpose of creating awareness, and hope that my implications find you well. Hope you too share this implication and help us preserve the vestiges of this lovely ecosystem and contribute to the posterity.