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.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

A Google reminder

See what I saw when I opened the Google Chrome browser this morning! 
Another year is up!

Arathi Manay ಆರತಿ ಮಾನೆ

Friday, June 10, 2016

Chunchughatta Lake clean up - 12th June

Want to spend this Sunday morning productively? Chunchughatta Lake calls! 
To know more about this lake that belongs to the Puttenahalli Lake Series of JP Nagar (it is hardly a km away from Puttenahalli Lake, and located behind Brigade Gardenia), read this old article on Citizen Matters here.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Heartfulness Relaxation workshop at Puttenahalli Lake

heartfulness india
‘Heartfulness’ is a path to experiencing your inner self. It is a simple experiential way to learn to open the heart, in order to experience the divinity that is quietly residing in all of us. By tuning into our hearts, we cultivate an inner knowing that wisely directs and guides our lives, helping us face the challenges of life with courage and acceptance.

People from all backgrounds, cultures and faiths around the world benefit by practicing this modern-day form of raja-yoga daily, finding that it brings balance, peace of mind, joy and spiritual growth in their lives. Ongoing support is offered, free of charge, in over one hundred fifty countries.

Please visit the url for more details.

You can experience Heartfulness Relaxation at two workshops that are going to be held at Puttenahalli Lake. Free of cost.

Date: Saturday 11th June and 18th June
Time: 6:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.
Venue: Puttenahalli Lake, JP Nagar 7th Phase   

For more details, please get in touch with Namrata 9448352200 /

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

With Success Comes Responsibility

A dry for years lake finally looks like a proper water body. Ever since we took up the cause of Puttenahalli Lake over seven years ago, this had been one of our goals - to see the entire  lake bed submerged. After a heavy downpour the previous evening, we saw just this. A marvellous sight on on World Environment Day, Sunday 5th June. From one end to the other, from this side to that, there's water, water everywhere at Puttenahalli Lake! 

20th May 2014

6th June 2015

For over a year, excess treated waste water from the STP at South City Apartment Complex is being discharged into the lake. This has percolated and saturated thoroughly the earth below before showing up on the surface. The rain water added to this increasing the level to an unprecedented height. 

While we were taking it all in, total strangers came up to us and expressed their delight. We were elated but what ran in our heads was a new concern, a new challenge - how do we keep the water clean? 

We need to pluck out new shoots of the the alligator weed from the water. Remove at once the plastic bags of Puja offerings and bottles that the insensitive manage to fling over the grill before our guys can stop them.  Yellappa, the fisherman, we had engaged to remove the invasive weeds in April is unable to get workers willing to work in the cold water. By the time the water warms up, would the weeds have grown wild once again? Or will the fish that are thriving, indeed jumping in and out of the water merrily, eat the young shoots quickly enough?

6th June 2016

The rain did not only fill the lake. It also dissolved the nutrients in the water. Unfortunately, on 27th May a sewage chamber on Nataraja Layout had collapsed and the contents had gone straight into the lake gathering along the way all the plastic and trash in the drain. Fortunately, they were contained within the wetland. We had contacted BWSSB immediately and JE Mr. Nagaraj attended to it. By the time he got it repaired, however, sewage had been flooding the wetland for four days and nights. We hoped that the heavy rains over the next few days would dilute the sewage and reduce the damage it can do to the quality of the water. But with the increased level the trash floated higher and higher. The boulders forming the wetland is about seven feet high but now at some points it is less than half a foot above the water.

To make matters worse, the sewage chamber collapsed once again on the night of 5th June! The heavy traffic had not allowed the fresh cement on the new manhole to cure properly. People had removed the obstacles placed on the road and gone over the manhole cover breaking it. As if this is not enough, according to BWSSB Nagaraj, people living on either side of the road diverted the rain water from their homes into the sewage line adding to the load. He got it repaired yet again but this time we were wiser. One of our well wishers, Srinivas Alavilli spoke to the Hulimavu traffic police and got a man posted to divert traffic, With this, we hope that we have solved at least one problem, for the present. 

Now to tackle the danger of the muck flowing over the stones of the wetland into the main lake which we had got cleaned in April with such difficulty. BWSSB was unable to get workers at such short notice. Nor could BBMP. Our two gardeners came to the rescue. Together with the BBMP contractor's man assigned to our lake, Jayanna and Ramu entered the stinky cesspool in a coracle and using long handled rakes pushed the floating garbage to a side from where they brought it out of the water. We paid them for this of course but it was hardly any compensation for the relief it gave us. We'd managed to prevent the bulk of the plastic waste from polluting the lake. Truly, with success comes greater responsibility. 

Sewage overflowing on the road

Trash in wetland

Trash removed from wetland

In our lake chronicles, this is the "low" of having water in the lake. Look out for the exciting "highs" soon to follow!


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Greetings on World Environment Day

To all our PNLIT friends,

Puttenahalli Lake, May 2016

For many of us, every day is Environment Day. Still, it feels good to see the whole world pause on 5th June every year and focus on raising awareness about environmental issues and concerns.

From the World Environment Day website
"This year's theme for WED – Go Wild for Life – encourages you to celebrate all those species under threat and take action of your own to help safeguard them for future generations. This can be about animals or plants that are threatened within your local area as well as at the national or global level - many local extinctions will eventually add up to a global extinction! Whoever you are, and wherever you live, show zero-tolerance for the illegal trade in wildlife in word and deed, and make a difference."

Some of you may be aware that I am currently not based in Bangalore. I was there recently for the summer holidays and managed a few visits to the lake. It was thrilling, to say the least, to see so much water. Also, I finally got to see some of the birds and flowers at the lake, that I had seen only in photographs shared by others. I spent a fair amount of time watching the beautiful Spot-billed Ducks and took lots of pictures. Some of these are in my blog posts... birds and flowers that may be considered commonplace, but important in the lake ecosystem. For those who have not had a chance to visit the lake, here is some of what you will see when you do.    

Here's hoping that the theme for this year's WED stays with you for ever. Read more on the WED website here

Best wishes,
(for the PNLIT Team)
Arathi Manay ಆರತಿ ಮಾನೆ