After Anand Malligavad tumbled into a lake, he thought he might die — not from drowning, but from the stench.

Like hundreds of other lakes in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru, the one Malligavad suddenly found himself in was a receptacle for sewage, plastic debris and construction waste. His unplanned dip happened in 2017, when Malligavad, a mechanical engineer, was on a stroll with friends near his office.

Walking back home, he smelled so bad that a guard refused him entry into his own residential enclave. The next day, Malligavad made an unlikely pitch to his company: He would restore the 36-acre lake if it funded the project.