Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Rosy Start to your morning

Rosy Starlings at the lake. Photo taken yesterday evening by Srinivas SK. The last time they were at the lake in such large numbers was in 2013. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

First migratory birds of the season at our lake

See PNLIT volunteer and birder Madhurima's report on the first migratory birds at our lake.  In addition to the usual residents, she also spotted an Oriental Magpie Robin pair.

Oriental Magpie Robin couple

Feels so good to see the number of species increasing. Hopefully, both migrants and residents, will come in larger numbers and make the lake their home. 

Here are some birds that we have at our lake, which come from across the borders.

Gray Wagtail: The species is widely distributed, with several populations breeding in Europe and Asia and migrating to tropical regions in Asia and Africa. (wiki)

Grey Wagtail
Common Sandpiper: It breeds across most of temperate and subtropical Europe and Asia, and migrates to Africa, southern Asia and Australia in winter. (wiki)

Green Sandpiper: It breeds across subarctic Europe and Asia and is a migratory bird, wintering in southern Europe, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and tropical Africa. (wiki)

Wood Sandpiper: It breeds in subarctic wetlands from the Scottish Highlands across Europe and Asia. They migrate to Africa, Southern Asia, particularly India, and Australia. (wiki) 

3 Wood Sandpipers (left), 1 Green Sandpiper (right)
Brown Shrike: Several populations of this widespread species form distinctive subspecies which breed in temperate Asia and migrate to their winter quarters in tropical Asia.(wiki)

Brown Shrike
Blyth's Reed Warbler:  It breeds in temperate Asia and easternmost Europe. It is migratory, wintering in India and Sri Lanka. (wiki)

Blyth's Reed Warbler

Saturday, December 31, 2016

As the year comes to a close

Greetings to you and your loved ones in this new year from all of us at PNLIT. The year 2016 comes to an end but several highlights made each month this year a memorable one. To recap them briefly:  

Jan. Eco Art for children conducted by Vicky Smith, U.K.

Feb. Qigong for senior citizens with Silver Talkies
Mime and theatre workshop for children with ASMI Instt. of Art, Culture and Theatre. 
Visitors from Indore Municipal Council, TARU and a lake group. 

March - Spot-billed Pelican spotted at the lake for the first time. The species is listed "Near threatened" 

April - A team of fishermen remove the thick overgrowth of aquatic weed exposing the expanse of water to the amazement of all. Lake Cleaning Project made possible with fund support from Deloitte Shared Services India Pvt. Ltd. 

May - The first showers increase the water level.
Storm water drain on south west boundary of the lake covered with concrete slabs thanks to Bosch CSR. 

June - Prototype of Artificial Floating Island to purify the water introduced; 
MoU signed with BMS College of Engineering to conduct a monthly test of the water quality.
Irrigation system pumping water from lake is installed with fund support from VMWare 

July - The lake overflows for the first time. Even passersby stop to see this wonder of a dry lake now brimming and spilling into the waste weir. 

Aug. - Radio City felicitate PNLIT at the lake with a plaque instituted by popular Kannada actor Ramesh Arvind. 

Sept. - International Literacy Day celebrated with the highest number of young participants. Conducted together with Snehadhara Foundation
PNLIT awarded a Certificate of Merit for "Contribution to Social Cause & Empowerment" by the National CSR and Leadership Awards.

Oct. Origami workshop for children conducted by Ravi Acharya.
Black drongo and Cotton Pygmy Goose spotted at the lake. 
PNLIT Trustee O P Ramaswamy steps down from the post of Treasurer. Long time volunteer Sangita Agrawal, from South City takes over from him. Divya Shetty from Brigade Palm Springs is inducted as Trustee bringing our strength to six members. 

Nov. Children's Story telling by Lavanya Prasad, founder of TALEscope. 

Dec. Our Artificial Floating Islands are a great success. 
Extensive press coverage in The HinduMagicbricks NowNews MinuteNews9 (1)News9 (2)
Several lake groups visit to see the AFI. 
PNLIT helps Biome make an AFI model for a forthcoming Kere Habba at K K Halli. 
Bird watching at Lake led by Madhurima Das
Successful trial of Trash Boom and Weed Cutter procured from Agastya Buoyant Pvt. Ltd. Howrah, West Bengal. Both are used for demonstration at various other lakes in the city. 

You can see pictures and read detailed accounts in

With but a few hours left for the midnight to usher in a new year, it is time to wrap up this one. The lake is full of surprises and nurturing it, an opportunity of a lifetime. We would not have been able to accomplish anything without help from very many quarters. Our heartfelt thanks to each one. We look forward to your continued support in the new year as well. 

A special announcement for music lovers - PNLIT is proud to announce a Carnatic vocal recital by Padma Bhushan Smt. Sudha Ragunathan at MLR Convention Hall on Sat. 25th February 2017. Save the date and watch this space for more details. 

Best regards
PNLIT team

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Bird watching session to be held on 11th December 2016

See the birds at Puttenahalli Lake

To spot birds at the lake now's the season 
Residents ho ya migratory, there's no division.
Let Madhurima show you the feathered ones
Flying, feeding and having their own fun. 

Bird watching on Dec 11th (Sunday) from 7:30 AM to 8:30 AM
Led by Madhurima Das at our own Puttenahalli Lake.

This is a free event for adults BUT seats limited to 15 only. 
Please register with Sapana <> asap to avoid disappointment. 

We'll organize one exclusively for children very soon! So ... Chin up, Kids!! 

About Madhurima

A birder for the last four years, her training began when she was in Michigan, USA. She has been tracking the birds at the Puttenahalli Lake from September 2014.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Artificial Floating Islands in our lake

Those of you who visited Puttenahalli Lake within the past few months may have noticed small platforms floating in the water. These are Artificial Floating Islands (AFIs) which we "launched", starting in June this year. The Vetiver and Canna planted in them are growing beautifully. PNLIT trustee Nupur, her husband Pranshu Jain together with our gardener, Jayanna, are the builders of five AFIs. With volunteers from Deloitte making two last Friday we now have seven AFIs

AFIs, Sep 2016

A Coot's nest in one of the AFIs

Deloitte volunteers with the AFIs they made, 25-Nov-2016

Briefly about the AFI - this is a variant of the wetland, an innovative way to improve water quality and keep the lake clean. In this system of Hydroponic Phytoremediation, plants in floating platforms absorb pollutants in the water to grow. AFIs are widely used abroad but not yet popular in India. 

Simultaneously with the AFIs, we began monthly testing of the water. We are delighted to see steady improvement in the each of the eight parameters we measure - pH, Turbidity, DO, BOD, Total Solids, Total Dissolved Solids, Nitrates and Phosphates. Some parameters still need improvement, but the trends are very encouraging. It may be too early to attribute this improvement to just the AFIs since they are few in number. We have been also curtailing the growth of aquatic weeds thereby exposing more water to the sun.  

Our sincere thanks to BMS College of Engineering for testing the water samples every month, their invaluable contribution to PNLIT. To Srinivas SK for analysing the test results.  CSR support from Deloitte Shared Services India Pvt Ltd. enabled us to remove the thick spread of invasive weed from the water, to hire people to keep the water clear of new sprouts as well as to fund the AFIs. 


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Need your help for our lake

​As you may be aware, PNLIT has been nurturing​ ​Puttenahalli Lake in J P Nagar 7th Phase for several years. BBMP gives limited infrastructural support, but not funds to maintain the lake and its premises. Once a year we launch a donation drive among residents in the locality, invariably raising just about enough to meet our requirement. This is becoming increasingly difficult and worrying. 

Puttenahalli Lake, Nov 2016 (Pic: Arathi Manay)

We have therefore decided to build our Corpus Fund by holding an annual fund raiser concert. We have scheduled one concert for 25th February 2017, with leading Carnatic vocalist and Padma Bhushan awardee Mrs. Sudha Ragunathan.
From this concert we would like to raise about Rs. 20 lakhs. 

How you can help 
  • Find out if your company can pitch in - under CSR perhaps. Put in a good word on our behalf. Introduce us to the person concerned. 
  • Maybe you have your own enterprise and can afford to spare a bit for the lake? 'Giving is the master key to success, in all applications of human life.' - Bryant McGill  
  • If you are/have been a PNLIT volunteer, or live in the area, why then the lake is yours! Talk to your family and friends about the revival of Puttenahalli Lake and of your role. Bring them to the lake. Show off its many charms. Win them over. 
  • If all that you know about the lake is from our updates, you still know quite a bit about this People's Lake. Make a donation, get others to donate. Little drops of water make the ocean, right?
  • Spread the word about the forthcoming concert among music lovers. Don't forget to mention that Sudha Ragunathan is singing for a cause - Puttenahalli Lake. 
For more information about our work over these years, visit our websiteThe revival of Puttenahalli Lake is cited by many as a successful model of a citizen-led initiative in Bengaluru. What propels us, our vision and mission are presented in an IIHS study titled "Rediscovering the Commons", in a youtube video
Feel free to share the PNLIT brochure. It has been designed by two of our interns, Samhita and Divya, students of Class 11. 

​Many thanks. 
Chairperson, PNLIT

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Rediscovering the Commons - Puttenahalli Lake

PNLIT's effort in rejuvenating and nurturing Puttenahalli Lake is included in a study titled "Rediscovering the Commons" conducted by the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Bengaluru. The interview (conducted early last year) is uploaded on this link: Heartfelt thanks to all our supporters and donors.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Report on the story telling at the lake on 12th Nov 2016

PNLIT celebrated Children's Day on Saturday, 12th November by inviting Ms Lavanya Prasad, professional story teller and founder of TALEscope to reach out to our children through the medium of stories at the lake.  Around 30 children attended this event. A special invitee was Ms Ailbhe Murphy, from Ireland, studying at the Resilience Centre, Stockholm. Here's her report on the story telling. 

On The Story Telling at Puttenahalli Lake
By Ailbhe Murphy

For the last month I have been traveling around Bangalore City visiting lakes that are being maintained and protected by local resident groups.  

I have come to understand the people in these groups as active "place-makers", who through their dedication and imagination are instilling new meanings into the lakes they care for. Lakes, which not so long ago, were on the brink of disappearing, on the verge of becoming places void of meaning.

When PNLIT informed me that they would be hosting a storytelling event at Puttenahalli lake I immediately said I wanted to attend. I saw the event as an example of innovative place-making – a beautiful idea to make the lake known as a place for sharing stories. 

As Jonathan Gottschall, author of "The storytelling animal: How stories make us human" once said: "The stories we consume shape us profoundly! They shape our attitudes, our beliefs and our behaviours."

How wonderful then that the 30 odd children, who attended last Saturday's event at the lake, got the opportunity to consume tales about water and the activities and folklore that have sprung from our dependence on it.    

The first tale we heard was an old village story from Madhya Pradesh. In the story the village was described as a place where everyone could sing beautifully and where songs were inspired by the sounds of water being collected from wells, clothes being washed on the banks of lakes, and cattle bells clanging when cows came to bath.   

By weaving interactive songs and dances into the narrative the storyteller Lavanya Prasad not only had the kids listening but also ON THEIR FEET and SINGING.  It was gorgeous to see all the children playfully embody the village characters, dancing with imaginary water jugs on their heads and enthusiastically slapping imaginary cloths on the ground.  Many adults present couldn't help themselves from clapping and singing along too. 

For the second story Lavanya transported us to ancient China and told us the myth about a cloud breathing dragon that brought rain to the people. Apparently his cloud breathing powers were thanks to a magic pearl that he kept in his throat!

One day, however, the dragon loses the pearl and it is found by a shepherd boy while herding his sheep. When the boy brings the pearl back to his town the precious item brings out the greed of his town's people. To stop everyone from fighting over it the boy decides to swallow the pearl himself. Once it is inside him it works it's magic again, transforming him into a new cloud breathing dragon that swoops off into the sky.  As a dragon the shepherd boy continues to bring rain to China, filling its lakes and rivers.      

At the end of this story Lavanya brought the group back to their surroundings by concluding that, "Maybe such a myth also exists about Puttenahalli lake!"

And, as if he had been listening to the story too and wanted to show the children that just like the dragon he also had impressive flying skills, a pied kingfisher came to hunt for fish as everybody was making their way out from the event.  The kingfisher's ability to hover in one spot, before diving into the water caused much excitement. 

So in the end the kids left with two folktales in their heads and a lake experience from which they could weave a new story of their own.    

I'm delighted I was able to fill my own head with these rich stories and experiences too and I wish Lavanya, the PNLIT team and the children now growing up around Puttenahalli lake many more happy and inspiring storytelling sessions. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

When work gets undone and redone

The south west of our Puttenahalli Lake is the lowest point and hence the biggest source of rain water. Unfortunately though, the open storm water drain leading to the lake would always be full of plastic and trash which would enter the lake with the rain water. 

We decided to clean the drain and cover it with concrete slabs. Obviously we could do this only for the length of the drain along the lake boundary. The slabs would serve the additional purpose of giving pedestrians a safe pathway in a narrow, crowded road.  To prevent trash from entering this section, we would fit a grill where the slab ended and also at various points at the base of the slab walkway. This would drain rain water quickly from the road. To prevent any stray trash from entering the lake, we decided to fix a grill on the top wall of the silt traps. 

Condition of the drain, Aug 2014

Plan in place, we submitted a proposal to Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions Private Limited (RBEI) earlier this year who accepted it. PNLIT funded repairing the wall along the length of the boundary fencing to prevent soil from falling into the drain. We gave the work order of both to a contractor, Mr. Reddy. Work began in May this year. By mid July the drain was transformed and we were delighted. Everything went as per plan for the next couple of months, rainy ones. 

Before work began, May 2016

Completed, Jul 2016

In mid-Sept. we saw a trench being dug on one side of the road by KPTCL to lay cables. We were concerned about the already narrow road shrinking further. Would any vehicle go over our pathway ? Would the slabs bear the weight? Our fears came true on 28th Sept. when we found several slabs broken. Clearly a heavy vehicle had gone over them. People living in the vicinity said that a JCB used by KPTCL had done the damage. 

We promptly sent an email to the MD, KPTCL explaining the situation and requesting for the slabs to be replaced. There was no response. A fortnight later we sent a reminder. Voila! The MD replied that he would ask the Chief Engineer KPTCL to check and take remedial measures. Another 10 days passed. We wrote again requesting for the Chief Engineer's contact details. We'd follow up with the gentleman, we said. He promptly did so. The Chief Engineer, Mr. Chandrasekhar sent his engineers to inspect the damage and on 9th Nov. the slabs were replaced!

Damaged slabs, 28 Sep 2016

Replaced slabs, pics sent by KPTCL

Our heartfelt thanks to Mr. Jawaid Akhtar, IAS, Managing Director, KPTCL, Mr. Chandrasekhar, Chief Engineer, Transmission and to the two site engineers. Ms. Suma and Mr. Satish did not believe that it was their JCB which caused the damage but nevertheless they got it done since it was in the interest of the public. Kudos!

Written by Usha Rajagopalan

Monday, November 7, 2016

The great clean up at the lake

Volunteers from RBEI at the lake, 5th Nov. 2016

Our lake cleaners Puttaswamy and Ramakrishna had been removing the weeds from the water and piling them on the slope. However, they were not so keen to remove the drying weed from the slope since it was so much more difficult. Where they lay, the alligator weed and salvinia molesta would no doubt enrich the soil  but the alligator weed would begin to sprout. We were therefore keen on removing it while also making space for more weeds. When our CSR partner Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions Private Limited (RBEI) asked if their volunteers could work at the lake, we grabbed the opportunity. On Sat. 5th Nov. the first of the 25 Bosch volunteers arrived at the lake at 8 a.m. and we set them to the task of removing the weeds from the slope.

Our staff

Gardeners, Jayanna and Ramu, Puttaswamy and Ramakrishna filled baskets with the drying weeds which volunteers handed over the grill to their friends. They in turn emptied the baskets between the trees within the boundary fence. As and when more volunteers joined, they did likewise. One of them, Deepak had brought his 70 year old mother who matched his enthusiasm.

In no time it seemed, the volunteers had cleared one section and everyone moved to the next spot further down. This being the highest point of the lake bed, maximum weeds had been piled here and we needed all the help the volunteers could give to clear out this area. With great gusto everybody set to work.  

The slope is gradual here so more volunteers went to the water side and helped to fill the baskets. Some were emptied into our wheel barrows and cycle trolley which the volunteers wheeled away. By 10 a.m. we called for a break. We had arranged a sumptuous breakfast for the by now hungry volunteers. Seeing the amount of work they had done, our guys were keen on getting the entire spot cleared. The volunteers were only too happy to oblige. Post breakfast, they resumed work with greater energy. In about an hour they were scraping the ground and it was time to halt, mission accomplished!

Pics taken by Usha Rajagopalan and V. Srikrishnan