WATER of the Rs 4 Crore Rejuvenated Gujjarakere Lake is NON-POTABLE at Present. Gujjarakere was once a source of drinking water and was associated with rituals at Mangaladevi and Marigudi temples
Mangaluru: Mangaluru’s 1,800-year-old Gujjarakere Lake which is among eight others in the revival scheme undertaken by Mangaluru smart City Limited (MSCL) and Mangaluru City Corporation was renovated and inaugurated in February 2022 at a whopping cost of Rs 4 crores. The lake was revived and restored to its former glory. Brimming with sewage, polluted water, hyacinth, filth and garbage is what best described Mangaluru’s Gujjarakere lake until recently. Spread over three acres, not only is Gujjarakere the oldest lake in Kudla, but also one of the largest with historical significance attached to it. Over the decades, this ancient lake became neglected and treated as a dumping ground for waste materials. But all of this is now a thing of the past: Out of the eight lakes that have been identified for a facelift, four – Bajal, Kudroli, Jappinamogaru, only Gujjarakere was completed, and work on the rest is in progress.
However, a few months after the recently renovated Gujjarkere in Jeppu, it is again witnessing influx of sewage thereby threatening the water body. Recently speaking to Team Mangalorean, Nemu Kottari, who fought relentlessly for nearly two decades for the rejuvenation of the historic Gujjarakere in Jeppu under the banner of Gujjarakere Teertha Samrakshana Samithi said, ” Even though Gujarekere (Lake) has stunning looks from the outside but from within, it is again being filled with slush. The sewage continues to enter the lake from the northeastern side and reports from the College of Fisheries too confirmed the presence of sewage.
Despite the fact that Gujjarakere Lake has been rejuvenated, the water remains unfit for human consumption. P Nemu Kottari, secretary of Gujjarakere Thirtha Samrakshana Vedike, had submitted the lake water to the College of Fisheries for analysis twice: once in July 2021 and again in April this year. While the total coliform count and faecal coliform content were both 300 per 100 ml of water in 2021, the total coliform count abnormally rose to 1,600 per 100 ml of water on April 29 while the faecal coliform count remained at 300.
Speaking to Team Mangalorean, Kottari said, “No steps had been taken to purify the lake water, even after it had been rejuvenated. The total coliform count in the water sample was found to have increased even after the dredging. These reports are cause for concern. The Samiti’s campaign to rejuvenate the lake had yielded results, with the work now being undertaken by Mangaluru Smart City Limited. However, we believe that the maintenance is not being carried out as expected, and we are concerned that the area will become a safe haven for illegal activities. Gujjarakere was once a source of drinking water and was associated with religious rituals at the Mangaladevi and Marigudi temples. We want the authorities to restore its significance”.
Filthy Water flowing in the Open Drain very near to the Lake
Kottari further said, “While the water looked fresh immediately after it was drained out and freshwater accumulated, one could see sewage sediments at present, which we all regret to say. MSCL has not executed the work completely, though many sewage inlets were closed down or diverted to newly laid sewer lines. It also did not construct the Teertha Kere (Kalyani) in the middle of the lake as promised by leaders. The lake has abundant groundwater sources and could cater to the drinking water requirements of the city if the sewage leak is completely plugged. Earlier, religious processions from the neighbouring temples of Mangaladevi and Marigudi would pass by this lake and the deity was made to have a jhalaka (holy bath) before proceeding further. But over the last century, these religious activities stopped completely. And with industries coming up around this area, the lake water became heavily polluted. The Mangaluru City Corporation too began treating it as a dumping ground”.
Water Tankers filling water and Parked along the Lakeside taking away the Beauty of the Lake
At a cost of nearly Rs 4 crore, Mangaluru Smart City Limited (MSCL) undertook the revitalization of Gujjarakere, which has a history of more than 1800 years. Mayor Premanand Shetty stated that efforts are being made to purify the lake on a priority basis. Identifying the pollutant source has been a challenge. Oxy aerators will be installed at the cost of Rs 35 lakh. The work has been tendered and is set to begin immediately. MSCL General Manager Er Arun Prabha stated that pre-fabrication work is currently underway. The commissioning is expected to happen by the month-end.
Legend has it that the Gujjarakere lake was founded by Saint Gorakshanatha. Sources reveal that the lake is linked to two distinguished Saints, Macchendranatha and Gorakshanatha, who lived in the surrounding areas of Mangaluru. The two of them were celebrated deities of the famous Kadri Sri Manjunatha Temple. This lake is also connected to nearby famous temples like Mahatobar Sri Mangaladevi Temple, Halekote Sri Mariyamma Mahishamardini Temple, Bolar and Sri Gorakshanatha Temple, Gorakshadhand. But negligence towards this lake by the district administration and MCC had resulted in the dilapidated condition of Gujjarakere. Sources also reveal that during the previous initiatives launched to clean Gujjarekere, labourers had hunted and killed many tortoises that had made the lake their home.
After completion of the Gujarekere Lake, you can see stainless steel railings provided around the Lake for the safety of the children and seniors. A wide area of walking is provided, all interlocked making it comfortable for walking or jogging. The area is well lit with the new LED Street lights around the lake. The partial area around the lake has been spread with sand turning it into a play arena. There is also Gym equipment for young people to exercise. The Lake also features new benches, wastebaskets, and green turf making it look beautiful. Apart from the decades-old existing trees, nearly 30 plus trees have been planted. It is learnt that in order to increase the oxygen level in the Lake, a small boat model aerator will be added in the nearest future. Before removing the silt, the impure water was drained to some extent. The rejuvenation proposal covered the dredging of the lake to a depth of about two meters deep. As part of the revival, it has a walking track around the lake, a children’s play area, a public toilet and an open gym. There are railings around the lake and the surroundings have been beautified with landscape works.
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