People's participation in local issues often work wonders and has proved more effective than said intervention by government bodies. The Sasthamkotta Lake in Kollam district witnesses a unique sight every Sunday. Volunteers remove the weeds and other vegetation which are destroying the biggest freshwater lake in the state. No government agency is involved in the effort. There are children as well as elderly people engaged in the task.
The shallow regions of the lake face heavy siltation and the accumulation of weeds.
People participate in the cleaning effort voluntarily. A proposal which was discussed in a WhatsApp group named ‘Nammude Kayal’ (Our Lake) was the first step. Several members suggested that measures should be taken to conserve the lake. As a group of youths launched the cleaning drive at Punnakkad at Manakkara. Their sincerity was quickly noticed by many organisations as well as college and school students. Soon, all of them joined the conservation effort. People waded into the lake, collected the weeds and brought them ashore. It was a tough task but the people were enthusiastic about it. People living near the lake offered food to the volunteers carrying out the cleaning.
Every passing week, the support for the conservation movement is growing. People are arriving from various places to encourage the unique effort. The weed removal has been extended to more areas. The people’s collective has also registered their organisation. According to convener of the collective and town ward member S Dileep Kumar, a project on the lines of ‘Namami Ganga’ was needed to save the lake. “Voluntary removal of weeds will continue till official action is initiated,” he said.
The lake has been shrinking over the years and resultantly many old beautiful sights around it had vanished. A fish census in the waterbody had revealed several species have vanished and the catch is declining steadily due to environmental degradation.