Monday, November 1, 2021

Citizen lake groups left in the lurch

Greetings to all on Karnataka Rajyotsava Day. 

The continuous assault on hundreds of Bangalore’s famed lakes by vested interests prompted concerned citizens to raise the issue of our deteriorating water bodies with the state government, and the city administration. BBMP’s Lakes department lacked the funds and bandwidth to both rejuvenate lakes, and maintain them thereafter. The stress on the system was visible as rejuvenated lakes went back into various states of disrepair over time. 

In 2009, the team under the leadership of Mr. B.V. Satish, then Chief Engineer, BBMP Lakes, took the extraordinarily progressive step of inviting neighbourhood residents  to participate in lake rejuvenation through discussions, and incorporating suggestions  from community representatives during rejuvenation. They then signed MoUs with these resident groups to maintain the rejuvenated lakes. Between 2011 and 2019, BBMP had signed MoUs with citizen-led, not-for-profit trusts such as PNLIT, MAPSAS, JaLaposhan and Iblur Environs Trust to maintain and nurture eight lakes in all. Under the stewardship of each group, these lakes began to thrive, becoming rich in biodiversity, and enhancing the quality of life of people in the neighborhood. With public interest mounting and leading to the formation of other groups, registered and informal, it seemed as if there was finally hope for the rest of the city’s lakes.

In 2020, based on a direction of the hon'ble High Court, against a WP 38401/2014 dated 04/03/2020 which read “... the State Government shall not execute any such MOU with any Corporate Entity”, BBMP stopped renewing MoUs with these citizen groups, even though the High Court explicitly forbade BBMP from engaging with corporate entities.

The court was unaware of the existing partnerships between BBMP and citizen groups for the upkeep of rejuvenated lakes, and BBMP did not seek the court’s permission to renew our MoUs.The citizen groups filed Interlocutory Applications on 29/06/2021 to the above-mentioned WP; these, however, have not been heard and admitted because of the elevation of the concerned Chief Justice to the Supreme Court of India.

To resolve this impasse, we met Mr Gaurav Gupta, Commissioner BBMP, and top officials from the BBMP Lakes department on 25th October 2021. He appreciated our contribution, and welcomed community participation, especially since we ensured continuity in lake upkeep even as officers within the BBMP were shifted constantly. However, till the hon’ble High Court resumes the hearings in WP 38401/2014, listens to our submissions and gives due directions, we have to remain ‘unofficial’ lake custodians. Even as BBMP struggles to resolve the issue of formal MoUs with citizen groups, we continue to oversee the upkeep of these precious water bodies.

Usha Rajagopalan, Chairperson, PNLIT 
Mukund Kumar, Trustee, Iblur Environs Trust Annapurna Kamath, Trustee, JaLaPoshan Trust Subramanian Sankaran, Managing Trustee, MAPSAS Trust


Related recent newspaper reports dated 30/10/2021 and 31/10/2021


 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Award for BBMP Lakes

Based on our close association with the BBMP, Lakes, for over a decade, we had nominated them for the Earth Day Network India's Star Municipal Leadership Award, 2021. 

The  Earth Day Network India is an environmental organization that  "aims to help Restore our Earth with initiatives that focus on ways to regrow green cover, rejuvenate aquifers, restore soil, refresh air, reduce and manage waste, encourage a switch to clean and green energies, and build environmental stewardship among youth. We are inspired by the global NGO EARTHDAY.ORG™ that grew out of the first Earth Day on 22nd April 1970, and today engages with over 50,000 organizations in some 190 countries to take the environmental movement forward."

We are pleased to tell you that the Chief Commissioner, Mr Gaurav Gupta, received the Star Municipal Leadership Award trophy at a small function in his office yesterday (29th October 2021).

Earth Day Network award


BBMP Commissioner Mr Gaurav Gupta with Chief Engineer Ms Suguna, receiving the award on behalf of BBMP from Ms Neela of Earth Day Network. PNLIT Trustees Usha, Nandhini and Divya are also seen. 

Ms Leela, Ms Usha Rjagopalan, Mr Gaurav Gupta, Mr Mohan Krishna, Ms Suguna

Along with PNLIT, several other lakes groups such as MAPSAS, JaLaposhan Trust, Iblur Environs Trust have also been partnering BBMP with their respective lakes. We are all very happy with the recognition that BBMP, Lakes, has received, a well deserved one indeed. 

Here are the links to a couple of newspaper reports that were carried today. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Celebrate International Literacy Day 2021

8th September 2021 - We will be celebrating the International Literacy Day with Snehadhara Foundation and Pratham Books by hosting an online interactive session for children aged 10 years and below. Event details are attached below.

Pratham Books' stories this year are Satya, Watch Out! written by Yamini Vijayan and illustrated by Vishnu M Nair for younger childrenand Puchku Seeks a Song, a Level 3 book written by Deepanjana Pal and illustrated by Rajiv Eipe for older children.

Entry is free but registration is a must
So do register here - https://bit.ly/2Y9wW0T

The registered email ids will get Zoom meeting ID. For any queries, contact pnlit.events@gmail.com .



Wednesday, July 21, 2021

A rare spider spotted at our lake!

We are delighted to tell you that a rare spider called Chrysilla volupe was recently spotted at the lake. The lucky (most observant?) photographer, Mr. Satishchandra Karanth, from the neighbourhood, is a regular visitor to the lake and literally spends hours peering through his lens. Read about how he came across this unique little spider, a serendipitous experience in itself which gave him a classic photograph as well! : 


While I was trying portrait shots of a garden lizard in our Puttenahalli lake bed last week this colourful rare spider popped up on its head!


Chrysilla volupe male on a garden lizard's head
(Pic: Satishchandra Karanth)

Chrysilla volupe female 
(Pic: Satishchandra Karanth)

Chrysilla volupe male
(Pic: Satishchandra Karanth)

This spider species was considered extinct for 150 years until it was found in Wayanad, Kerala in 2018!


Male spiders measure 5.44 millimeter long including stretched legs and 1.76 millimeter wide!

Females measure 2.61 millimeter long and 0.88 millimeter wide!


Males have a carapace in reddish orange color with two iridescent blue stripes. Legs have iridescent scales that make them appear golden and purple shades. Females have greyish carapace with grey eyebrows with all legs yellow in color. The female was described 139 years after the species was first described by Karsch in 1879. Until 2018, only males had been identified and described, based on the male type specimen described by Karsch.



More strength to Mr. Karanth and all the naturalists who are helping us map the biodiversity at our little Puttenahalli lake!

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Bioblitz event at Puttenahalli Lake

The continuous rains this week didn't deter us from planning our first Bioblitz event at Puttenahalli Lake. The overcast sky this morning did make us wonder if the participants would turn up. They did and the drizzle stopped just in time for 15 participants - a good mix of college students, high school students and a couple of nature enthusiasts - to start their walk around the lake to capture and document their observations. The next two hours opened our eyes to a whole new world.

The highlight was the first sighting of fruits on a Buddha coconut tree (http://www.flowersofindia.net/catalog/slides/Buddha%20Coconut.html). We have four of these trees in our lake, all planted in 2010, over the years they have grown very tall indeed! For the last two spring seasons, we have been eagerly waiting to see them flowering. This year too we missed spotting the flowers and would not have noticed the fruit either if it hadn't been for today's event. It made us slow down, look around, and observe the flora and fauna. Bingo! We saw the fruits!

Buddha coconut fruit

Incidentally, this was the tree which a drunken miscreant had broken in Aug. 2011. Fortunately, we were able to get our gardener to match the broken piece to the trunk and 'bandage' it without any delay. The tree survived. 

Buddha coconut tree
Patching up the Buddha coconut tree, Aug 2011 (Pic: Usha Rajagopalan)

One of the younger participants was the first to spot a fungus kind of growth on the Singapore Cherry.  "Thanks to the rain," said Dr. Kaustubh Rao, who led the walk. "You can expect to see more fungi varieties."

Fungus on Singapore Cherry tree

The participants will be uploading their observations on iNaturalist platform, do check them out at https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/puttenahalli-lake

If you want to spot the natural wonders at the lake, do come and join us in our next Bioblitz event (watch this space for the announcement of the next event).

Photos taken by: Govindan Iyer, Usha

Friday, July 9, 2021

Tracking the flora and fauna at our Puttakere

We are happy to have created a project space for Puttenahalli Lake on the iNaturalist platform 
- for all of us to track the flora and fauna found in our lake. 

Please explore  https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/puttenahalli-lake  and add your observations - from the little spider in a corner of the gazebo at the lake to the statue-like heron waiting to snatch a fish from the water. 

To do this, you need to join the group. Please follow the directions given below: 

On Web browser:
- Go to https://www.inaturalist.org. Log in with your Gmail/Facebook ID or sign up with your email ID.
- On the top menu, go to Community >Project. In the input box, enter Puttenahalli Lake and click Go.
- You will see Puttenahalli Lake Project. Click on it. 
- On the top right side you will see Join this Project. Click and  become a member
of Puttenahalli Lake Project.

On Mobile
- Install iNaturalist from Playstore or Appstore.
- Log in as mentioned for Web browser above.
- Select Projects on the hamburger.
- Search for Puttenahalli Lake Project in the search box.
- Puttenahalli Lake Project will show up. Click on it. 
- Click on Join button to become a member.

Upload the photographs of birds, trees, plants, insects that you take at our Puttenahalli Lake
for everyone to see and admire.
 
- Do not worry if you don't know the name of the bird, tree, plant or insect.
This is a global community of naturalists. Someone from somewhere will identify it for you!
- Do not worry if the species is already uploaded. The more the better!
- Please upload good photos. The greater the clarity, the easier to identify the species!
- And please add only photographs taken at our Puttakere to this page!  

A quick update on the lake - While the sewage inflow has stopped and the rain is
diluting the sediment, it is still providing rich nutrition for the weeds to grow and
cover the water. 

                                  Removing weeds

BBMP is getting the weeds removed. This time, there are several new ones and we are
constantly sending photos to Dr. Subbu to identify! His comment on the two species
in the photograph is particularly heartwarming. 

"Chara sp. and Ottelia alismoides... These two mostly grow in clean waters:
like the lakes of Bangalore in the 1980s."













In spite of the impurities, the exposed water does look delightfully clean.
We hope it improves further in the days to come!

Friday, June 11, 2021

PNLIT turns 11 today

On this day in 2010, we registered Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust with Arathi Manay, Prasanna Vynatheya, O. P. Ramaswamy, from Brigade Millennium, and myself from South City as founder trustees. Prasanna stepped down in July 2014. Nupur Jain from Brigade Millennium, Sangita Agrawal from South City, Divya Shetty from Brigade Palmsprings and Nandhini Sriraaman from Adarsh Rhythm are currently on the board of trustees. Our team is small and we rely heavily on our gardeners Jayanna, Ramu, Srinivasa and Soma.

 

We are grateful for the assistance we receive from Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Kutty who's managing our newsletter so well, and Sapana Rawat our events coordinator who's waiting for the all clear signal to resume events at the lake premises. S.K. Srinivas, Madhurima Das, and Vishnupriya Hathwar, are our in-house birders/photographers, Geetha Srikrishnan, photographer, Raghavendra Shanbhag, our turn to person, Dr. K.G. Rangaraju, our hydraulic consultant, A.K. Venkat, who provides technical help with our newsletter, ornithologist Dr. S. Subramanya, and Capt. S. Prabhala, Bangalore Environment Trust. For want of space, we are unable to give the names of many more experts that we rely upon. Special mention must be made of former Chief Engineer, BBMP (Lakes), Mr. B. V. Satish, for making us official custodians of a lake, the first such in Bengaluru and to Mr. L. Ramesh Jelly from Puttenahalli ward. 

 

We wouldn't have made any headway with nurturing Puttenahalli Puttakere without our government partners, primarily BBMP, BWSSB, and KSPCB among others. Individual donors, largely from our neighbourhood, continue to be our primary source of income to meet recurring expenses. We executed projects with CSR funds from companies such as VMWare, Axis Bank, Deloitte Shared Services India LLP, Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions Private Limited, Duleep Matthai Nature Conservation Trust, Misys Financial Software. The most recent grant was from Wipro Foundation to create a Replicable Floating Bio-filtration system in our wetland. We are excited about starting work as soon as BBMP repairs and modifies the existing wetland.  The media has covered our endeavour extensively from the early days to now. Our heartfelt thanks to all. 



What is a lake without water? The transformation of the lake became complete when we began filling it with excess treated water from South City apartment complex. Together with Earthwatch India, we held a number of programmes to spread environment awareness among several corporate employees and residents. Through advocate Sindhu Vasudev, we hope to protect the lake from encroachments.

 

Eleven years of nurturing the lake together. We at PNLIT have more goals, more dreams and need your support to realize them. Together we can reach greater heights. 

 

Usha Rajagopalan

Chairperson, PNLIT

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Lake Update on World Environment Day

Greetings to all on World Environment Day. On this occasion which calls for protecting our ecosystem, here is an update about our neighbourhood lake. 

The best news is that the Puttakere is free of sewage at last, or should we say, for now? With the BWSSB's replacement drain leaking as recently as February, we had to pursue them to get it resolved. It turned out that the connecting drain outside the premises was not big enough hence the back flow was entering the lake. For almost the whole of April, the middle of the road in front of the petrol bunk (on the BM - Arekere road) was dug up. For various reasons including rain, work couldn't proceed as planned. With BBMP, we, and the slum dwellers urging them, BWSSB engineers replaced the drain and, on  22nd April, arrested the back flow.  

The slum dwellers were forced to protest because sewage had entered several of their houses too. Two years after the High Court disposed of their writ petition, we filed one on 6th March seeking the Hon'ble Court to issue directions to the government to relocate the slum and stop sewage inflow permanently. Our WP 4964/2021 came up for hearing on 31st May. The Division Bench has asked the respondents to file their objections and fixed the next hearing on 6th July. 

After the sewage influx was stopped, the BBMP contractor had less than a week before the lock down to resume his work. He managed to strengthen the bund on the slum side, but couldn't complete the pitching or do the few other pending tasks. Like him, we too have learned to take such delays in our stride and to take (greater) pleasure in the small things at the lake. Most of the pictures in this post were taken by our gardener, Ramu, with his mobile. The quality may not be very good but they will hopefully lift your spirits. We can all do with a bit of cheer in these depressing times. 

Clean rain water, 31st May 2021

Newly fixed bird perches and in the background, revetment work in progress


The rain has turned it into a swampy grassland once again and the birds are loving it! A couple of weeks ago, our gardeners had put up perches which are being put to good use by different species of birds. Their return to the lake is one of the things that boosts our morale. 

Pigeons on perches, 29th May 2021

Green and lush, 28th May 2021

Dragon fruit flowers, 4th June 2021

Terrapin getting some sun


Red-wattled Lapwing

Swamp hens and Coot

Increasingly, researchers are pointing to a direct link between destruction of nature and outbreak of diseases. On  World Environment Day, today, let us pledge to promote awareness and protection of the environment and natural resources and do our bit through the year!

Take care. Stay safe. 

Aerial view of the lake, 4th June 2021

Monday, March 29, 2021

Celebrating Holi with flowers

Think Holi, and which is the colour that flashes before your eyes? 

...

...

Pink?  


Well, whether pink or any other, you will, most likely, find it in the gardens of Puttenahalli Lake. 

While we (and our statutory bodies) are still working to get our Puttakere back to looking like a proper water body, and still battling with Covid, the hundreds of flowers blooming around the lake do full justice to the festival of colours.

Purple Wreath

Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow

Blue Morning Glory
Blue Morning Glory

Blue Plumbago

Golden Trumpet

Galphimia

Cape Honeysuckle

Candy King

African Tulip

Perfumed Passion Flower

Red Cassia

Red Geranium

Bougainvillea

Crepe Myrtle

Pink Trumpet

Pink Geranium

Sweet Autumn Clematis

Spider Lily

Whitelady

White Water Lily

The flowers photographed by PNLIT Trustees Nupur Jain and Sangita Agrawal are all currently in bloom. Look out for them, and many others on your next walk around the lake.

Happy Holi to all the PNLIT family!

Friday, March 19, 2021

Remembering Mr. Zafar Futehally

(Photo: Sujesh)

On his 101st birth anniversary, we offer our tribute to Mr. Zafar Futehally (19 Mar 1920 - 11 Aug 2013). We were privileged to have him and Mrs. Laeeq Futehally visit our Puttakere in 2012. 

He had heard of our endeavour and had sent an email expressing his appreciation. We were thrilled to bits and had invited him to visit the lake. He did so with his graceful wife, an eminent writer and garden expert. She was quite frail and waited in the car while he accompanied OPR and me for a short distance asking so many questions about the depth of the lake in summer, source of water, how we were raising funds and more.

Zafar Futehally at Puttenahalli Lake Feb. 14, 2012 (Photo: Sujesh)

With PNLIT Trustee OPR (Photo: Sujesh)

When we told him about the migratory Garganey ducks arriving at the lake, he came to see them, cap on head and binoculars in hand. By then, together with Lesser whistling ducks, there was a flock of over a hundred of them. I relive that moment often – standing beside Zafar Sa’ab and seeing ducks, ducks everywhere in our little lake. Later that year, he brought his granddaughter along to see the Garganeys. That was his last visit. Our association with Zafar Sa'ab and Ma'am was very, very brief but we are so grateful that thanks to Puttenahalli Lake our paths crossed at all. 

Garganeys & Whistling Ducks, Dec 2011 (Photo: SK Srinivas)

Mr. and Mrs. Futehally shifted to Kihim in early 2013. He passed away that August and she followed within a year. We had kept him informed about the lake through emails and he would reply to each promptly and with great happiness. In his last email in July, he hoped that the Garganeys would return to our lake that year. They did. They may return yet again when the lake is back in shape, this winter, we hope. 

Female Garganeys, Dec 2013 (Photo: PNLIT)

Garganeys in flight, Feb 2014 (Photo: Sanjay Mysoremutt)

Usha Rajagopalan