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? 




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


Blue Morning Glory
Blue Morning Glory

Blue Plumbago

Golden Trumpet


Cape Honeysuckle

Candy King

African Tulip

Perfumed Passion Flower

Red Cassia

Red Geranium


Crepe Myrtle

Pink Trumpet

Pink Geranium

Sweet Autumn Clematis

Spider Lily


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

Friday, February 12, 2021

“Once there was a tank called Puttenahalli Puttakere….”

As many may have noticed, BBMP has been cleaning our little Puttenahalli Lake in J.P. Nagar 7th Phase, for nearly a month now. After ‘dewatering’ the lake, they began to remove the contaminated soil, from the surface in some places and further below at others.  A fortnight ago, these pits filled with black water and at other places, damp patches formed where weeds began to grow. The underground water was getting exposed by the digging we thought, but the patches became pools which grew in number and size. 



On 3rd February, our gardeners reported that water was entering the wetland through one of the inlet pipes which discharged surface runoff from South City. We contacted the apartment complex immediately. They checked and rechecked. This inflow wasn’t from South City.

Was this leakage from the newly installed UNDERGROUND DRAIN (UGD) that BWSSB had laid last year? 

The ward office sent a contractor to locate the source and plug it. By then, there was some seepage from below the inlet pipes as well. He suggested that we block the pipe with sandbags. The back flow would indicate possible source which could  be repaired. We did as he asked.


The sandbags remained in place and dry though the seepage from below the pipes increased as did the water level in the lake! In just four days, i.e., by Sunday 7th Feb., many of the pools had not only grown but, they and the trenches dug by the excavators had vile, floating mass which was visible from a distance. We knew only too well just what it was - sewage. Once again. 



In 2017, an occasional trickle of sewage from the UGD at Nataraja Layout began to enter the lake through the storm water drain. Each time, the BWSSB Ward Office removed the blockage with a jetting machine. When it became a regular feature, we escalated the issue to the Head Office, but no action was taken. The polluted water led to a massive fish kill in March 2018.

We desperately tried to alleviate the damage by installing an aerator fountain in April 2019. However, infuriated with the sewage overflowing on the road, the residents of the layout opened up the drain and led it directly into the lake on 3rd June 2019. Sewage started to gush inside. 



In deep anguish, we were on the verge of giving up altogether when we appealed to Sri Jayaram, then Chairman, KSPCB and later at a meeting of the NGT Green Tribunal Committee chaired by Hon'ble Justice Sri Santosh Hedge. Sri Tushar Girinath, then Chairman of BWSSB who was present at this meeting agreed to get the existing UGD replaced with a bigger one but warned that the slum could be an obstruction.  Nevertheless, he kept his word and work began in August 2019.


Working between the sewage filled lake on the one side and the illegal houses on the other, progress was very slow. All the while, the slum dwellers kept a keen watch and, nervous for their safety, even picked up fights with the workers.



At the stretch where a few houses came in the way, BWSSB compromised by laying that section of the pipe on the REVETMENT on the water side. This exposed pipe developed cracks and the contractor’s patchwork repair gave way at least twice in January 2021. 


Now, not only was this section leaking yet again but along with it, the entire length of revetment along the new drain was damp and foul water was collecting to form pools. 



BWSSB responded at once to the alert and worked till the early hours on 11th Feb, to clear the blockage. They are still at it today. While we appreciate their prompt response, jetting or temporary measures will not do. They need to come up with a permanent solution if the lake is to be saved. 



Yes. If only the government had acted on the Order of the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka, passed on 7th March 2019 in W.P. Nos. 5073 – 5187 / 2015 (GM –RES).  These Writ Petitions filed by the slum dwellers were disposed of with a direction to (1) Principal Secretary (Revenue), (2) Deputy Commissioner and (3) Slum Board to take a decision on the slum dwellers’ representations (to the Deputy Commissioner on 23.09.2014) where they asked for allotment of individual plots instead of the temporary sheds already built for them by the Slum Board (and which they demolished in July 2018).


The Court gave twelve weeks’ time to the Respondents. On the 7th of March, next month, it would be two years since the High Court passed the order. The authorities concerned are yet to take any decision.


Time and again, we reminded them of the High Court order and the urgency for early action, given the sewage inflow. Frustrated at the Respondents passing the buck from one to another, we met the Additional Chief Secretary (Urban Dev.), the Chief Secretary (twice) and emailed the Chief Minister of Karnataka. In Jan 2020, we filed a case with the LOKAYUKTA to take action against the errant officials for dereliction of duty.  The next hearing is on 3rd March but, going by our past experience, we are fairly certain that the matter will get postponed further.  



Way back in Sept 2017, we had alerted  BBMP and all the Respondents about the poor condition of the bund on the slum side. The inner grill had tilted in places and sections of it had fallen down.This happened because these residents had levelled the slope at many places to grow vegetables, fruit and flowers. In the process, they dislodged the boulders that were embedded on the bottom half of the revetment. On 28th May 2020, one of the houses on the bund collapsed and was quickly rebuilt. Since then, the bund has grown considerably weaker. The inner grill is almost nonexistent.


BBMP planned to strengthen the bund once the lake basin is cleared of the sewage sediment. With the UGD still leaking, and likely to do so in the future, what will they do now?



Our Puttenahalli Lake which looked this on 19/04/2019

Looks like this today, 12/02/2021

From 2010, working closely with the BBMP, residents from the neighbourhood and CSR partners, we toiled to bring a dry lake back to life. We overcame several obstacles on the way but 11 years later, the biggest two still remain – encroachment and sewage.

We have no words to describe our feelings at this point. If this situation continues we, and you, will soon have to say, “Once there was a tank called Puttenahalli Puttakere….”

PNLIT Trustees

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Thwarted yet again

Just about a week ago, we had ended our annual report on a cheerful note that the BBMP had begun cleaning the lake bed. Putting to work  a soil excavator and a JCB, the contractor was making excellent progress. 

5th Jan 2021

6th Jan 2021

Everything was undone by the rain which began yesterday afternoon and lasted into the night. We anticipated the worst and, as the photographs show, were proved right. 

After the rains

Today was bright and sunny. We will now wait for more such days with not a dark cloud in the sky till BBMP completes their work once and for all. Please strengthen our hope with your good wishes!
Best regards

PNLIT team

Photos taken by Ramu, Geetha Srikrishnan and Megha Malviya