Friday, February 20, 2015

Memorandum to CM - Somasundrapalya Lake & KCDC

Shri. Siddaramaiah Ji
Honorable Chief Minister, Govt of Karnataka

 Sub: Appeal to Rejuvenate Somasundrapalya Lake and to end menace of KCDC plant 

Respected Siddaramaiah Ji,

Greetings! At the outset for the letter, we congratulate you for the recent initiatives by your government under your able leadership in conservation of water bodies across the state by passing the Karnataka Tank Development Authority Bill, 2014 in the recent assembly session.

We are confident that the provisions in new bill would help in rejuvenation and conservation of water bodies in the state. We also hope this legislation will help in revival and conservation of the water bodies in and around Bengaluru that are very crucial for recharging of the depleting ground water tables given the kind of urban sprawl that the city is been witnessing.

Bengaluru city was known for the lakes but today many of them vanished and the one’s remaining are in peril. The reasons range from encroachments of the tank shore area, raja kaluvas, inflow of effluents from industries in up streams, domestic waste water flows into storm water drains resulting in pollution of water bodies. The multiplicity of the institutional ownership of various departments is another issue that has been hunting the lake conservation.    

At this juncture, we take this opportunity to bring to notice the Somasundrapalya Lake (also known as Haralakunte Lake) one such neglected lake located survey number 0051 BBMP Ward 190, of Bommanahalli Assembly Constituency; the lake is currently under BDA jurisdiction (East division).

Key issues of Somasundrapalya Lake:

-   The lake originally spread over close to 16 Acres 29 Guntas, in last few years about 3 acres has been encroached. (enclosed copy of RTI reply)

-   The broken fencing and complete neglect by BDA has resulted in debris dumping, excess growth of weeds, entry of raw sewage and affluent into lake. There by making it completely unusable for residents either for a walk or recreation.

-   Karnataka Compost Development Corporation (KCDC) located in the vicinity of the lake, has been encroaching the lake bed for its vehicle movements and to stack up waste and leachate is flowing into the lake.

-   KCDC plant in this area is close to a heavily populated locality; the residents have been constantly complaining about the raising stink, vector menace leading to respiratory diseases and skin allergies. During the monsoon the stink from KCDC garbage processing operation are unbearable, and residents have take up the issue with the local authorities but the problem continues to remain.

-  This lake falls under the upper catchment of the Varthur Lake series, and is interconnected to 9 lakes in this series gets a good quantity of rain water, and it can retain and recharge the ground water tables. But neglect and blockages of the inlets has resulted in lesser and lesser water reaching the lake.

We would also like to draw Hon. Chief Minister’s attention to 7th Sept 2013 visit to Agara Lake, where you had instructed the BDA Commissioner to re-survey Somasundrapalya Lake, and had directed BBMP Commissioner to take necessary steps to remove encroachments. So far neither BDA nor BBMP has taken initiated any concrete action nor have indicated any plan of action in this regard.

The residents of the locality have on several occasions expressing their concern and helplessness to get the relevant authorities to address w.r.t lake conservation and remedial measures to control the odor nuisance from the KCDC operations in this area.    

On behalf of the residents of the locality we are submitting the memorandum in full faith that Hon. Chief Minister will take cognizance of the concerns we have raised and will initiate necessary action without any further delay.

The inhabitants of the Somasundarpalya and surrounding area would be highly indebted the Hon. Chief Minister. We once again make humble request you to kindly do the needful and oblige.

Looking forward to hearing from you at the earliest.

Thanking you,

Warm Regards,
Kavitha Reddy
Mountaineer & Lake Activist
Member of One Bengaluru for Lakes
Founder Member, Jt Secretary of Agara Lake Protection & Management Society

Enclosed: 1. Response to RTI query regarding the lake area
               2. Copy of the local newspaper that covered your 7th Sept 2013 visit
               3. Three Photos of the current state of Somasundrapalya Lake

CC: Shri. Ramalinga Reddy, Hon. Transport Minister & Bengaluru City in-charge Minister, GOK
      Shri. Kupendra Reddy, Hon. Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha

Click here for reply from CM Office 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

We the Women

‘It is impossible to think about the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is impossible for a bird to fly on only one wing’ - Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda would not have imagined that even after a century we will still be talking and debating about gender inequality and women empowerment. It has taken centuries of struggle for women to break the glass ceiling, to be relevant and to be counted in different walks of life, but sad reality is that gender equality is still a far cry. It is a shocking fact that female infanticide is higher in urban India than rural India, defeating the argument that urbanization and education enables gender equality.

Challenge of gender inequality indeed arises due to a huge gap in participation of women in Social, Economic and Politics space, even though women to some extent have broken the glass ceiling in the Social & Economic space, India has seen a decline in participation of women in Political space.

With women reservation bill gathering dust, the percentages of women in Parliament and Assemblies across states are reducing and the gap is only getting wider. Some states might have made a 50% reservation for women in local bodies (Municipality/Corporation/Panchayat), but women are more co-opt by a male relative and is not necessarily a genuine attempt to provide opportunity for women to be part of the political discourse.

Excluding few well know women politicians like Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, Sushma Swaraj, Jayalalitha who have utilised the opportunity and have risen to be strong mass leaders, women in politics are selected or co-opted. Majority of women who have made it to the Parliament and Assemblies are either relatives of male politicians or achievers in their own fields who are parachuted by various political parties for electoral gains and mere representation.  

Fewer women are joining political parties as primary members or taking to political activism, working their way up and surviving the heat and dust of Indian politics has less takers. What is even more worrying are the results of a study conducted by Centre for Social Research and UN Women which found that women in politics face high levels of violence, fear character assassination and emotional abuse, and adding to it, women who are young, poor and first generation politicians found to be the worst affected.

Indian politics over the years has indeed become more of money, machismo and muscle, has this change kept women away from active politics? Whatever may be the reason, lesser participation of women in Politics and in Governance is not a good sign for our Democracy and the Nation at large. Women are 49% of Indian voting population, but a meagre 11% of the Parliamentarians are women.

Bringing in women into politics is indeed a chicken-egg situation; will the political parties create a women friendly atmosphere to enable women to take to politics actively or will they encourage more and more women to take up party membership who will thereby bring the change in the political structure remains an eternal question.

Rahul Gandhi while addressing women party worker rally pointed out that the rally had more men than women and the same is reflected in his party offices too. PM Modi speaks about saving the daughters and empowering women, unfortunately percentage of women in his party also do not add up. Aam Admi Party that has galvanised the youth and re-energised interest in politics also lags behind when it comes to giving tickets to women candidates.

Every party recognises that larger participation of woman in Politics and Governance is good for the Democracy. Sadly cutting across party lines the one common factor that makes all of them look equal is that the percentage of women in the party and percentage of women who are given tickets to contest elections.

But it is also important that women break barrier and take to political activism, if one waits for the all signals lights to go green, it will never happen. More women participation in Politics and in Governance is a critical step towards closing the gap, the gap of gender inequality. Let’s face it, any substantial change that impacts India happens only through our Parliament and Assemblies, and if women are not part of the law making process it raises very serious questions. It is also true that without a large talent pool of women political activist just parachuting women into Parliament and Assemblies indeed makes the men who have worked their way up in the political system disgruntle.

Irrespective of the party or ideology one chooses, women need to become part of the political structure and political discourse of this country. As a third generation political activist I do agree that politics is a tough place, but so is everything else. Women reservation bill even if it becomes law will not change much unless women step out of comfort zones and voluntarily identify themselves with a political structure and work towards becoming lawmakers. A change can happen for women only by women, and what India needs is a mass movement lead by women to become equal partners in political discourse, governance and law making.

As one more International Women’s Day nears, let us not just restricted it to celebrate womanhood and pat our back on our achievement, but constructively work towards gender equality in Social, Economic and Political space.

As Hillary Clinton aptly said ‘It is past time for women to take their rightful place, side by side with men, in the rooms where the fates of peoples, where their children's and grandchildren's fates, are decided.’

- Kavitha Reddy