Sullia: In the times when haphazard development has resulted in deforestation and gradual reduction of ground water reserves, a beautiful lake at Kanavu village in Peruvaje village of Sullia Taluk raises hopes against distress. The serene atmosphere in the midst of tropical greenery opens an unprecedented pattern of water conservation through heritage lakes thanks to the the efforts of Gopalakrishna Bhat and his brothers.
Gopalakrishna Bhat as a farmer has played a pivotal role in water conservation. There are seven lakes in total with a large lake spread across three and a half acres area known as Kanavu Lake. The water is pumped into the small lakes which later flows downhill into the farm as small streams after the water bodies get filled to the brim. Gopalakrishna Bhat and his brothers cultivate in 40 acres of land and have never faced water scarcity even during the worst summer conditions. The lakes provide water to hundreds of acres of surrounding natural habitat and the water levels have remained same over the last eight decades, says Gopalkrishna Bhat, an expert in natural water harvesting.
Water is preserved in the large lake, surrounded by lush green surroundings using triangular shaped clay modules acting as bunds. The magnificent sight of crystal clear water to a depth of 25 feet spread over an area of ??three and a half acre is really breathtaking.
The lake has a unique history because water does not dry in the month of May when summer temperatures hit peak levels in the area. Narasimha Bhat, father of Kanavu Gopalakrishna Bhat, who came to Kanavu from Badiyadka in Kasaragod in the year 1942, faced acute water shortage for rice cultivation. During that period, he resorted to storing water in order to reap more harvest and succeeded in cultivating paddy thrice in a year. Gradually, he increased the height of the retainer wall in the paddy fields to prevent soil erosion and over the years it turned out to be a large water body which is now known as Kanavu lake. There is strong belief among people in the area that if Kanavu Lake is filled with water the area will never face water scarcity.
Gopalakrishna Bhat and his family members have made conscious efforts to maintain constant water levels in the lake for many decades. The Kanavu Lake and other sub-lakes are very well maintained. The forest in and around 20 acres of land has been preserved to ensure the lake water level remains constant. The excess water during monsoon is fed to the forest area through small man made canals and to ensure healthy ground water levels. The forest of Kalpattamale contributes greatly to maintain constant water level in Kanavu Lake and also to improve the ground water level in the region so that the nature looks lush green.
Model for water conservation
The water management at Kanavu lake is a model for water conservation for the present generation. It shows how a water source can be utilised which is of great value to meet the needs of agriculture and drinking and also to live in harmony with nature without causing any damage to mother earth. "The benefits in return are enormous, aren’t they?", asked Gopalkrishna Bhat
Sri Raghaveshwara Bharti Swamiji of Sri Ramachandrapur Matt, who visited Kanavu in 2003, visited its lake and it as "Manasa Sarovara’, moved by the beauty of nature and serene atmosphere around the lake.
"We need to consider water as a holy gift offered to mankind. Nature offers abundant water and we should ensure its proper usage and protect nature at the same time. If we do that, we will never face water scarcity”, opined Kanavu Gopalakrishna Bhat in his concluding remarks.
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