By Y Maheswara Reddy After struggling for more than a year to keep Vengayyana Lake free from garbage, the Karnataka Forest Depar­tment (KFD), the custodian of the lake, thinks it has hit upon a bright idea to keep it free from garbage. The KFD wants to make the 20 pourakarmikas who segregate garbage near the entrance of the lake to have their meals near this spot. This, the Forest department believes will repulse them enough to keep the area clean. Mind you, these pourakarmikas separate the dry and wet waste, that you and I don’t care to separate. The smell from the garbage is so offensive that walkers around the lake cover their noses with their hands or their handkerchiefs. Inconvenient truth Every morning, pourakarmikas segregate garbage at Vengayyana lake, that is brought in by 30 tippers from the nearby areas of KR Puram, Devasandra, TC Palya. While the pourakarmikas are elbow and knee-deep in the city’s garbage, they are now being subjected to eat near it so that they can leave the place clean. Fair? The KFD is disturbed by the leachate left behind after the segregation. Offensive as it is, it also creates a black spot around the lake which is adjacent to the National Highway 4 near KR Puram. Walkers say the entire area where the segregation happens is filthy, putrid and unsightly. Now imagine if someone has to eat here. We’ve decided to sensitise the pourkarmikas about the bad odour emanating from the garbage and make them aware of the health hazards. We’ve made arrangements for them to have lunch near the main entrance so that they feel the impact of the dirty smell. — Harshavardhan P N, Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) Harshavardhan P N says, “We had made all efforts to shift the segregation of garbage to another place but in vain. Now, we’ve decided to sensitise the pourkarmikas about the bad odour emanating from the garbage and make them aware of the health hazards. We’ve made arrangements for them to have lunch near the main entrance so that they feel the impact of the dirty smell. Our idea is to make the pourakarmikas realise their responsibility to keep the surroundings clean and clear the garbage.” Before taking the decision to ask the pourkarmikas to eat at a platform close enough so that they can smell the garbage, the ACF had complained to the Health Inspector. “We were told by him that no garbage dumping is happening here but only segregation and we should not have a problem with that.” The forest department says it has provided drinking water and is ‘allowing’ the pourakarmikas to use the restrooms that are meant for walkers at the lake. The pourakarmikas have been told to stop eating their meals at an old temple behind the lake and shift to a platform near the entrance, to have their meals from today. “With all these measures, we are hopeful of keeping the space near the entrance clean,’’ says the ACF. . The story so far The lake was under the jurisdiction of Lake Development Authority which became defunct after the state government established the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA). Prior to this, the lake was leased to ParC Ltd by the LDA. The KLDCA took it back from the ParC Ltd on July 14, 2017. As of now, the KFD collects an entry fee of Rs 50 for adults and Rs 20 for children. “The KLCDA has handed over the lake to us in July 2018. We have sent a proposal to the state government for the development of the lake. We need Rs 21 crore for the overall development of the lake,’’ says the ACF. It is learnt that the KR Puram ward corporator, K Poornima, has decided to divert Rs 2 crore, meant for a dialysis centre at the Government Hospital, for the development of the lake. Sources say Poornima’s political rivals did not allow her to start a dialysis centre at the Government Hospital. . “We are happy to have Rs 2 crore from KR Puram ward corporator. We have decided to use Rs 2 crore for developing the walking path and remove weeds from the lake,’’ says the ACF. Meanwhile, Save KR Puram Lake Warriors founder Purushotham P has said that around 20 volunteers have been cleaning the lake bund for the last two months. “We start cleaning the lake bund at 5.30 am on every Sunday. We are organizing free yoga classes for the benefit of visitors. Our aim is to attract more and more visitors to the lake,’’ says Purushotham. Now, on the advice of the forest department officials, Purushotham says the Lake Warriors are in the process of forming a trust for the development of the lake. The residents want the authorities concerned to allocate sufficient funds to divert sewage flow into the lake.