Hyderabad: What does it take to clean a very dirty natural lake in Hyderabad? Years of "official action plans"? Not at all. All it takes is just a five-hour dedicated shramdaan. Almost 400 students from different schools in the twin cities under the guidance of the Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI) did just that to clean up the Kapra (Yapral) lake on Friday. They cleared an unbelievable 9.4 tonnes of garbage from the lake.
"It was very disturbing to find milk cans, plastic bottles and other cans in the lake," said Kruthika, a class XII student, in between the back-breaking work. She wasnt complaining but merely wondering at the apathy of her fellow citizens. She has inherited love of nature and environment from her mother, who is a member of the Society to Save Rocks. Her friend, Anubhav, and every other student at work echoed the same views -- "we are disappointed with the way Hyderabadis litter roads, parks and natural lakes."
The students were from Indus World School, Kendra Vidyalaya, Pallavi Model High School and others. At the same time, they had fun cleaning the lake and its surroundings. "Its fun to actually help clear this lake and I love doing this and help keep the city green," exclaimed one of them, Naynikya.
The founder of EFI, who shuttles between Hyderabad and Chennai, Arun Krishnamurthy, had previously cleaned up lakes at Miyapur and Kukatpally. "My friend and member of EFI Arjun Arya was the one behind the success of this initiative," he said.
Arjun Arya, the R&D head of ESI, has decided to devote his life to nature and plans to study environmental engineering abroad. "I have always been interested in nature," he said. His mother Gita Arya, a nature lover herself, is happy with his choice. "I am fully supportive of what he is doing, and his father is a nature lover just like him. So we wont stop him from doing what he wants to do," she added.
According to Arun, the Kapra lake has 13 different species of birds and 17 species of aquatic life. He is worried that the Ganesh festival will again pollute the lake. "The immersion of Ganesh idols is another cause of concern, as it hits the quality and life of the lake," he said.
"The Kapra lake was originally 65 acres in size, now it has shrunk considerably, due to encroachments over the last 10 - 15 years, chipped in T Prabhakar, sanitary and lake supervisor, GHMC.
Over the years, many people made it a dumpyard and encroachments made the condition worse. Finally few years ago, the lake was fenced. Aruns efforts were encouraged by the GHMC, which decided to give the green signal for lake cleaning.
"This is definitely a good sign, and it is nice to see authorities being cooperative, as it encourages young students who actively participate in these things," said Arun. After the lake was cleared, employees from Google arrived to help plant saplings at the lake.
Most of the students, who participated in the programme, are Class XI and XII students. Some of them are members of the EFI and became so after attending seminars and workshops conducted by Arun at schools in Hyderabad. And, they genuinely share Aruns concerns.
"It has become my passion to keep the environment clean. Earlier, I never realsied the implications of the things we do, which impact our environment directly," said Alekhya, member of ESI and student of the Nasr Girls High School.