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. 

Usha

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. 
Regards,
Usha
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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alwkAiRNpLQ. 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

Celebrating Children's Day: 12th Nov @ Puttenahalli Lake


PNLIT is celebrating Children's Day this year with a storytelling session by Lavanya Prasad of TALEscope. 

Lavanya Prasad is a professional storyteller and educator based in Bangalore. Using stories as a medium, she conducts workshops and training for children and adults in various bookstores, libraries and schools. Make sure you don't miss the chance of listening to her funny and wonderful stories!


When - Saturday,12th November 2016, 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Where - At our own Puttenahalli Lake
Age Group - 4 yrs and above
Entry - Free 
For registration (to get a head count as we want to take up to 40 children) please send an email to Sapana Rawat sapana_rawat@yahoo.com who is coordinating the event.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Origami workshop conducted at the lake

As part of our effort to introduce children in our neighbourhood to different kinds of arts and skills, we had organized an Origami workshop at the lake on 23rd October 2016.

Origami, as Sapana Rawat, resident of South City and a PNLIT volunteer explains below, is the delicate art of paper folding. Mr. Ravi Acharya who's been practising this art for over 25 years or more conducted the first workshop for 15 children at the lake. A report by Sapana is below. Some photos taken by Nidhi Chawla can be seen here.

Origami items made by children at the workshop

If you'd like your child to learn from Mr. Acharya, please email . Depending on the number of responses received, we will request him to take another session. 

Best
Usha
-------
Report by Sapana Rawat

On a bright sunny Sunday morning at 11 a.m., we had 15 children from age 8 yrs to 11 yrs join Shri Ravi Acharya for an Origami session at the gazebo of our beautiful Puttenahalli Lake.

Ravi Acharya,   a smiling 70-year old Origami artist, gave out origami paper to the children while showing various Origami items- birds, flowers, baskets, table, boxes of various shapes and sizes- that children could make with him.

All the children (and the adult PNLIT volunteers and trustees!) got excited seeing the flapping bird, so off we started with it only to realise in 3 folds that this is going to be a hard one to make.

Acharyaji very patiently worked with each child showing how to fold and crease the paper neatly. A couple of older children got the hang of folding very easily and were happy to finish their art work ahead of the younger ones. The younger ones with sad faces saying -"I don't know how to do this" were lovingly helped by the teacher. The older children also joined in helping the younger ones -showing off what they have learned but also guiding the little ones. It was heartening to see the children helping each other out.

After the challenging flapping bird, everyone wanted a simple, easy-to-make item! So a heart-shaped message box was selected, which did turn out to be simple. The children managed to finish making it by themselves with some help here and there.

By now it was more than hour since we started but the children wanted to do one last item. Again everyone wanted something simple but different, so we voted for a table, and like the bird, this too turned out to be a tough one to make. Surprisingly, no one gave up and Acharyaji helped each child to finish the table. This tiny table created a with a small square of paper can hold 2-3 cell phones easily. Yes, this was tested by the children once they finished their tables!

At the end of the session, origami papers were given to the children to take home and practice the same or other items. After almost two hours of Origami, the happy and hungry children (and adults) went home to eat and try their folds and creases all over again.

About the art and the artist
------------------------------------------

Origami is an art of paper folding. Ori means "folding", and kami means "paper". Origami traces its origins to the Japanese who are supposed to have invented this art soon after was paper brought to Japan by the Chinese around the 6th century AD. Though the origin of Origami is Japanese, of late, it is used to include all kinds of paper folding.

Ravi Acharya was introduced to Origami in the early 1980s. Since then he has been fascinated by birds, flowers and boxes which he creates using different colours of paper. Origami has been a stress buster for him and now, after his retirement he loves teaching and spreading love for this art .


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

On the birds spotted at the lake

Visitors to the lake sometimes ask whether we have introduced the birds to the lake. When we deny this, they want to know how the winged visitors make their way to the lake. 

How do birds make their way anywhere? How do they know where they can get food? How is it that migratory birds don't lose their way flying as they do thousands of miles across the sky? These are questions beyond our scope. Our endeavour is to make the lake as attractive as possible to them, local or migrants. 

While we can spot most of the resident birds, the smaller ones hidden in the foliage give us the slip. This is why we rely heavily on sharp eyed bird watchers who are patient, prepared to spend time, listen to bird calls and so on. A few of them like Madhurima Das send us updates on the birds she sees at the lake every weekend (and also logs them on eBird). We occasionally share these in this forum. Many of the birders don't mail us, but post their sightings in the eBird check list. I visited this site today and am pleasantly surprised to find that they have collectively spotted 96 species at the lake!!

Black Drongo, 22-Oct-2016 (PIc: Madhurima Das)

Some of them like the Common Hawk-Cuckoo (spotted on 3rd Sept 2016 by Tarun Menon); Common Iora (1st July 2016, Manidip Mandal) or Asian Palm-Swift (3rd May 2016, Vidhya Sundar) are first sightings at the lake! If we manage to contact these experts, we'll get the photographs of these birds and share them with you. In the meantime, do please visit the "Puttakere" hotspot on eBird: http://ebird.org/ebird/hotspot/L2583597.

Do go to the lake yourselves to see the birds, take photos and send them to us. Recording your sightings on eBird will help in tracking. 

Best
Usha

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Bird Watch Update

Half way through October and we are eagerly waiting for the first of the migratory birds to arrive at the lake. According to Madhurima, who's been keeping a track on the birds, by this time last year, the Grey Wagtail and Brown Shrike had already made an appearance. Nevertheless Madhurima spotted today a bird that was last seen at the lake on 3rd Dec. 2011. This is the Cotton Pygmy Goose. A female chose to visit the lake. Said to be the smallest waterfowl in the world, Madhurima managed to get a shot from a distance. 

Two other photos by Madhurima are of a snake in water which is as green as the grass unlike the one of the island in the middle of the greyish water. Indeed, the play of light on the water makes it shimmer with such lovely colours from dawn through the day! 

Usha