Sarjapura, a rapidly growing neighborhood in Bengaluru, now has a voice. The Voice of Sarjapura (VOS) is a citizen-led group working to protect the region’s diverse biodiversity.
In 2018, a group of Sarjapura residents formed Voice of Sarjapura. The loss of green cover and natural habitat in the city and the encroachment of lakes and their rajkaluves prompted environmentally conscious citizens to form an independent non-partisan group and begin conservation efforts. Their preliminary survey informed them of the threats to the rich biodiversity – reckless deforestation, rampant encroachment, sand mining, illegal farming near lakes, man-made wildfires, and illegal advertisement panels installed on road dividers.
Voice of Sarjapura has initiated projects such as aforestation through plantation and transplantation, exposing encroachment and other illegal activities in the lake surroundings, and creating ponds to provide habitat for a diverse range of wildlife species and migratory birds. The group has also used traditional media and social media to draw the public’s attention to the existence of lakes in the Sarjapura area.
The 100-strong volunteer team is dedicated to raising awareness about the degradation of green cover and lake encroachment in the Sarjapura area. In addition, the group has been at the forefront of protesting illegal advertising hoardings and raising awareness about the Karnataka Parks, Playgrounds, and Open Spaces (Preservation and Regulation) Act, which protects citizens’ rights to open spaces.
Raicy from the Voice of Sarjapura team says, “We are aiming to create a holistic suburb by maintaining a healthy balance between environmental development and urban development.”