A Pat On The Back

Sometime in August, we received an email from Earth Day Network India about a new award for municipal bodies whose ‘policies and actions make a significant positive impact on the environment.’ Having been associated with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) from 2009, we promptly filled in the nomination form and sent it. In due course we were informed that the BBMP had indeed been chosen for the Star Municipal Leadership Award. We were happy for BBMP but in the thick of lake work and our own responsibilities and deadlines, dismissed it from our minds.

On Monday 25th October, a few of us from different lake groups met Mr. Gaurav Gupta, Chief Commissioner, BBMP, to discuss renewing our MoUs. While going for this meeting, my colleague Sangita Agarwal and I wondered fleetingly about the award but we were too geared up for the important meeting ahead. The next morning I was writing the minutes of the meeting when I received an email from Earth Day Network India that they planned to hold the award function on Friday 29th Oct. Their representative, Neela Majumdar, Senior Manager, Project Developments – India, EARTHDAY.ORG would be coming to Bengaluru for this purpose.

Just four days after stepping into the office of the Chief Commissioner, BBMP, with its high ceiling, and the long table around which we had sat, I was back again. This time with Ms. Neela Majumdar and two other colleagues, Nandhini Sriraaman and Divya Shetty. Members of the other lake group were unable to join. The press had already gathered when we made our way to the Chief Commissioner’s Office. Ms. Neela Majumdar handed over the award to Mr. Gaurav Gupta, Chief Commissioner, BBMP.

That evening one of the BBMP engineers sent us a whatsapp message which a Home Guard had forwarded to her. It read: “Congratulations to BBMP for winning the award for Lakes. Nominated by PNLIT. Classic example of Citizen and Governance (sic) working together.”

Reactions ranged from the ‘What’s the matter with you?’ to ‘You did a wonderful thing. They (BBMP) deserve it!’ One and all, they were as taken aback as BBMP was! One press report said, “Believe it or not, the civic body has received an award for developing 18 lakes in the city…” Another one quoted Mr. Gaurav Gupta that the award “encouraged BBMP to take up scientific rejuvenation of more lakes in the city.”

This indeed was the intention with which we had nominated BBMP. And of course, why should we not give credit where it is due?

Published by Usha Rajagopalan ("Lakeika")

I am a writer, translator and lake conservationist based in Bengaluru, India.

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