Thursday, September 22, 2016

About the International Literacy Day celebration

In a village called Adhania lives little Munia who cannot play like other children because she has a limp. She plays instead with the Elephant Bird who cannot fly. One day Vayu, the horse, disappears and the villagers blame the Elephant Bird for its disappearance. Well, the Elephant Bird is big enough to swallow a horse but did he swallow Vayu? Munia doesn't think so. She sets out to prove her friend's innocence. 

This story written by Arefa Tehsin, illustrated by Sonal Goyal and Sumit Sakhuja was the book chosen by Pratham Books for their  'One Day One Story'  campaign as part of the International Literacy Day.  

We used this opportunity to revive our story telling at the lake on Saturday 17th September. Are we happy we did! The children came in ones and twos and groups and soon the Gazebo was full of kids! A rough count showed about 65 young heads, the highest number ever for a story telling at our lake. Many of them had parents and/or grandparents with them. Some of the adults occupied the benches in the Gazebo, most of them stood outside. Their keen attention to the story telling was evident when they along with the children imitated the gestures of the story tellers! 

Inside and outside the gazebo

Breathing life into the story

The colours on our feet!

Snehadhara has a strong team of such talented story tellers who were enthused by the engrossed listeners, young and old. They brought the curious and brave Munia, the magical Elephant Bird and the suspicious villagers to life. The story ended but not the fun. 

Geetu and her team brought the kids to the open ground, got them to form a huge circle and everybody together played a couple of games. Then it was time to say good bye and disperse but very many of the children didn't want to leave! We didn't want them to leave either so we'll very soon organize another exciting event at the lake. Watch this space for the announcement! 

Bend your knees!

Hoola hoop game

Coming back to The Elephant Bird - the story may be fantasy but Elephant Birds did exist long ago in Madagascar. Read about them on wiki here.

If you would like to read the story to your child, please click on this link where you can access the book -


More photographs can be seen here.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Celebrating International Literacy Day @ Puttenahalli Lake

Have you heard of an Elephant Bird? Yes, it sure did exist once. Don't believe us? Come find out about it for yourselves.

International Literacy Day is today, 8th September. However, PNLIT will be celebrating it on 17th September, with "The Elephant Bird" chosen for this year's 'One Day One Story' campaign by Pratham Books. This story, about a magical bird and a brave child, is written by Arefa Tehsin, illustrated by Sonal Goyal and Sumit Sakhuja, and published by Pratham Books.

We will have the wonderful team from Snehadhara Foundation with us to sing, dance and narrate the touching story of "The Elephant Bird". 

When: Saturday 17th September 2016 @ 4:00 p.m.
Where: Puttenahalli Lake, JP Nagar 7th Phase (near South City/ MLR Convention Centre, Brigade Millennium)
Entry: Free - All are welcome

Friday, September 2, 2016

Flocks at the lake

Puttenahalli Lake is looking truly gorgeous... 

Aerial view of Puttenahalli Lake, 22-Aug-2016 (Pic: Geetha Srikrishnan)

... not only to humans but to birds as well. Last Saturday, Madhurima, a resident of South City, who's been keeping a weekly bird census, spotted twenty Cormorants in all the three sizes. This is great news but the even better news is the presence of so many young ones. 

Indian Cormorants

Indian Cormorants (adult and juvenile)

Grey Heron (juvenile)

Night Heron (juvenile and adult)

Grey-headed Swamphen (earlier known as Purple Swamphen) (juvenile)
(Pics: Madhurima Das)

One month after launching our donation drive, we have raised Rs.3 Lakhs against our target of Rs.6 lakhs. We need to raise the remaining amount at the earliest so that we can wrap up the donation drive for the year and move on to making further improvements in the lake. 

Just as little drops of water make the ocean, our small steps over the past several years have given a new lease of life to the lake. Likewise, please donate whatever you can. Your contribution will help PNLIT nurture this precious bird haven. 

Donations may be made by cash, cheque, direct remittance or online through donation partners. For details on how to donate, please see here.

If you are making an online payment, please send a screen shot of the transaction and your contact details to enable us to send you the receipt. 

Cheques in the name of "PNLIT" or "Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust" may be sent to our registered office: 
PNLIT, Usha Rajagopalan,
B3, 502, South City, Arekere Mico Layout, Off Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore 560 076 

Donations are eligible for income tax exemption, u/s 80G of the Income Tax Act (50% deduction from taxable income) 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A hundred for a hundred

A couple of weeks ago, we had a surprise visitor at Puttenahalli Lake.
Rajas Jain, RJ from Radio City was there to hand over a plaque to PNLIT. Trustees Usha and Nupur received the plaque.

Signed by actor-filmmaker Ramesh Aravind, the plaque's lead line is "Noorakay nooru" (A hundred for a hundred). Pushpaka Vimana (ಪುಷ್ಪಕ ವಿಮಾನ), a Kannada film to be released this year, is the hundreth Kannada film in which Ramesh Aravind has acted. To commemorate this, several interesting things are being/have been done, and one of these is to felicitate 100 people who have made a difference to the city.

Thank you Radio City and Ramesh Aravind!

Monday, August 15, 2016

What Independence means to me as a lake conservationist

Today as we celebrate our 70th Independence Day, I wonder what does it really mean to us. For me, it is about giving up my freedom to do whatever I want for my individual comfort but to think and act for the larger good. In other words, to be a responsible citizen. Not just one day but throughout the year. 

As citizen custodians of Puttenahalli lake we come across irresponsible behaviour from visitors every day. They litter the premises, despite the dustbins placed every few feet. They throw bottles, plastic bags and idols into the water which we keep clean with such difficulty. To pluck a single flower, they break branches. They mutilate signages; poach fish, set off a fire .... indeed, the list is endless. Over the past four days, we faced new problems from selfish individuals.

The owner of a vacant plot adjoining the lake, in the buffer zone, decided to construct a building. Towards this, he got a drilling machine last Friday and in no time the air was full of blow up particles that settled on trees, shrubs, walkway and everywhere. A good shower would wash these away but the whitish material mixed with water began to flow through the pipe and into the silt trap. The owner disregarded our appeals to block the mouth of the pipe and went ahead with the drilling. By the time the machine reached the ground water point, the silt trap filled to the brim with the white muck. If not removed at once, it will enter the lake with the next rain. Or else it would harden and make the silt trap dysfunctional. One man's indifference has led to such problems for us, for the lake!

Drilling in buffer zone

Result of drilling 14-Aug-16

Result of the drilling - silt trap filled

Yesterday at about 4.30 p.m., I happened to see three people rowing in the lake cleaner's coracle. It was obvious that they were not skilled at it. Rather than disturb my friends in PNLIT, I rushed to the lake. Even as they saw me, the slum residents shouted warnings to the people in the boat. Three boys ran ahead of me yelling "Madam barathaa idhaare!" The trespassers were unable to row fast enough and I caught up with them when they reached the place where the coracle is usually stationed. 

Two were in their late teens and one, Chandru, about 22 years old. They were old enough to know they were doing something wrong. The slum residents, young and old, who shouted out to them, knew this as well. My anger erupted because of what could have happened. The theppa was an old one and cracking. What if it had given way? What if the boys fell into the water which is as deep as 18 to 20 ft at places and got caught in the clay base, among the weeds? Why didn't anyone stop them? Didn't they value the boys' lives?

The worst cut of all was when I was rushing to catch the boys, two regular walkers at the lake asked "Who are the people in the theppa?" I asked them to come with me and question them. They said they would finish their round of the lake first!

The rowers

The boys who alerted the rowers

Today morning I see our national flag planted in one of the islands, standing tall and flapping in the breeze. It makes a gorgeous sight but my first thought is that just for a whim the person who planted it there could so easily have given up his life at Puttenahalli Lake!

The tricolour on one of the islands

With a deep sigh - Jai Hind!


Monday, August 1, 2016

Appeal for donations to maintain lake FY 2016 - 17

Dear friends,

In 2009 when we decided to save Puttenahalli Lake, we knew the journey would be long and full of challenges. It indeed has been this and more but we stuck to our agenda to - 
  • get BWSSB to stop sewage from entering the lake. They diverted it into an underground drain
  • find new sources of water to fill the lake. BBMP diverted surface runoff from Brigade Millennium into the lake in 2012; With KSPCB approval treated water from the STP at South City has been flowing into the lake from May 2015. Thanks to the recent rain, for the first time since our involvement, the lake has filled to its optimum capacity and begun to overflow! This was indeed a very cherished moment not just for us, trustees, but for regular visitors to the lake and even passersby. 
  • rehabilitate the slum residents. Process is on. 
  • get corporate support for major projects in 2016 - 17. 
    • VMWare funded the setting up of an irrigation system to water the plants; 
    • Bosch to clean and cover a section of the drain at South City side which is the largest source of rain water; 
    • Deloitte Shared Services India Private Ltd. funded cleaning the lake. 
The highs and lows of our endeavour have been documented here. You only need to go to the lake to see for yourselves how the lake is thriving. Our journey would not have been possible without infrastructural support from BBMP, fund assistance from our donors (corporate and individuals) and physical help from our volunteers. 

Thanks to Deloitte Shared Services, we will be able to pay Rs.20,000/month to the lake cleaning team till March 2017. However, Companies do not give fund support for operating expenses. We need to pay salaries to our staff, maintain the gardening equipment, buy plants, soil, etc. As in previous years, we need to raise Rs. 6 lakhs to meet our  annual expenditure for 2016 - 17. Please contribute generously to PNLIT.

Donations may be made by cash, cheque, direct remittance or online through donation partners. For details on how to donate, please see here.

If you are making an online payment, please send a screen shot of the transaction and your contact details to enable us to send you the receipt. 

Cheque by post may be sent to our registered office: 
PNLIT, c/o Usha Rajagopalan,
B3, 502, South City, Arekere Mico Layout,
Off Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore 560 076 

Donations are eligible for income tax exemption, u/s 80G of the Income Tax Act (50% deduction from taxable income) 

Looking forward to your generous support to Puttenahalli Lake.


Jan 2009

Jul 2016

Lake overflowing into waste weir, 29-Jul-2016

Irrigation pipeline

Road drain before and after covering

Yallappa's deweeding team

Puttaswamy's team (regular lake cleaners)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bird Watch Update

Here's the latest update from birder Madhurima, a South City resident who has been maintaining a weekly record of birds sighted at the lake. Lots of "purple" birds!

On Saturday, 23rd July, there was a flock of at least 8 little cormorants. 2 very brownish little cormorants were present, which are probably juveniles. Other than that, all usual suspects were present. One waterhen couple seems to have made a nest. they were seen hanging out together, near the L&T gate, on both days

On Sunday, the little cormorants had left. Other birds were all present. I witnessed a case of probable child abuse by a purple swamphen which tried to crush its chick under its weight for 10 minutes. However, the chick seemed uninjured after the ordeal.

The lapwing couple was present on both days, but there was no chick with them. Maybe they couldn't protect the chick this time.


Bronze-winged Jacana

Little Cormorants

The lake

Little Cormorants

Purple-rumped Sunbird Female

Purple-rumped Sunbird Male

Purple Heron

Scaly-breasted Munia


White-browed Wagtail

White-breasted Waterhen

Purple Swamphen

Purple Swamphens

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Puttenahalli Lake begins to overflow!

For the first time since PNLIT took up the cause of saving Puttenahalli Lake, the water level has increased so much that it has begun to overflow into the waste weir! We can't contain our excitement. We have managed to get a once dry lake brimming with water! Yay!!!!!!!!!!!

The sight of water, water everywhere warms our hearts but it also means that we have more work in store, keeping more water clean. With the water, a lot of trash has come our way, but we have been able to trap quite a bit of it. 

See the photos. Better still, visit the lake! 

PNLIT team

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Tree talk - Kadamba

We are used to regular visitors to Puttenahalli Lake calling up after spotting a new bird but Sapana's call yesterday was about a tree flowering for the first time. This was not any ordinary tree but a Kadamba! With such fond hope we had bought a sapling in July 2010 and planted it at a spot that would allow it to grow tall. Said to be a quick growing tree, ours has taken six years to flower. We rushed to the spot and stood below the Kadamba enthralled at the sight of the soft orange powder puff balls hanging in such large numbers. It is sights like this that make our work so exciting and rewarding. 

The Kadamba (Neolamarckia cadamba) has a wealth of religious and cultural significance attached to it. See these links: 

The photos don't quite do justice to the exquisite flowers. Please visit the lake and see them. Take your children along. This tree is located opposite the island near the fence on the coconut grove side. Its neighbours, a Flame of the Forest and a Gooseberry still have some growing to do before we write about them in Tree Talk. 

If you are observant, you will notice another Kadamba like tree growing on the edge of the water to the right of the island. We did not plant it here and are still puzzled about how a seed could have landed and taken root. We are waiting for it to flower and establish its identity once and for all!  

How didn't we spot the Kadamba flower ourselves? Because we are bogged down with so much work that we often miss the beautiful sights we have created around and in the lake. Many hands make less work. Help us maintain our lovely lake. Become a PNLIT volunteer.