Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dance at Dusk at Puttenahalli Lake

Earth Day greetings to all! Today, 22nd April, is Earth Day which is celebrated the world over. People come together especially today  to show their support to the environment, to Mother Nature.

To acknowledge our indebtedness to this bounty called Nature, PNLIT is happy to host an event called Dance at Dusk in association with the Snehadhara Foundation. We are holding the programme on the coming Saturday to enable adults to participate as well, along with their children.

Date: 26th April 2014 (Saturday)
Time: 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Place: Puttenahalli Lake, at the gazebo
What is Dance at Dusk? Here's a brief note on the event from Snehadhara:

Dance at Dusk

We at Snehadhara believe that movements have inner meanings and purposes along with their outer expressive and communicative qualities. Synchronizing this mind-body relation is essential for healing and growth. To build this synchrony, it becomes necessary that we hone a body that is awake- a sensing, emoting and thinking body.

Presenting 'Dance at Dusk', an evening of dance and movements, that explores the innate interdependence, rhythm and interconnection that exist within us through the metaphors of nature.

The session will involve a community dance with adults and children and will explore synchrony, expression, rhythm and cohesion.

Discover the rhythm in you. Revive yourself. Revive the Environment. 
Please register by 4.45 p.m. Participants of all ages are welcome. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Please help Stop Killing of Fishes in our lake

Of late, since the water in the lake has shrunk considerably, there are several small and shallow pools of water in which large fishes are located. Surprisingly these fishes are quite large (I saw one that was about 10" long).

Unfortunately a big bunch of teenage urchins have started going in and filling their sacks with fishes they kill ruthlessly. The method I saw them using was terrible - they take a heave staff and smash it on the fishes that are trapped in the shallow water.

We request all those who visit the lake, to keep a look out for this and please do not hesitate to yell out at the urchins. I did the same and quickly they took to their heels. Of course, if you are a lone lady walking on the track you may think twice.

Unfortunately due to the elections the Home Guards have been temporarily taken away thus making it easy for all to carry out such acts.


Illegal fishing at the lake
File pictures taken in Oct 2010

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Your vote counts. Your MPs can make a difference to Bangalore's lakes.

This election day in Bangalore (Thursday, 17th April 2014) the proof of whether you have done your duty will be on your left thumb! Yes, as per the instructions of the Election Commission of India, the indelible ink shall be applied on the left thumb of voters in Karnataka.

Many of you may have decided whom you are going to vote for. For those who are undecided, or wanting to know more about the candidates, here are some links to help you choose or change your mind. 

What can our MPs do to protect Bangalore's lakes?
A point of view 

Check your constituency
Bangalore residents will fall into one of 5 Lok Sabha constituencies

Check out the candidates in your Lok Sabha constituency

Bangalore South (23 candidates)

Bangalore North (14 candidates)

Bangalore Central (26 candidates)

Bangalore Rural (15 candidates)

Chikkaballapur (19 candidates)


I recently met someone who said he was disappointed he may not be able to vote because he had not received his voter ID card. If you do not have a voter ID card but have your name on the electoral rolls, you can still vote by carrying a photo id proof. To find your name on the electoral rolls, check this link

If your name has been newly added, it is possible that you may not find your name using the above link. In that case, check out your assembly constituency voting lists on the links below. These give the electoral rolls by polling booth.
Bangalore South 
Bangalore Central
Bangalore North
Bangalore Urban
Bangalore Rural

Make sure your voice is heard by taking the time to cast your vote. Encourage your friends and neighbours to vote too.
Tip: Booths open around 7 a.m. so go early to beat the crowds and queues. 

And after you've voted, enjoy the voting holiday and long weekend! 

Arathi Manay ಆರತಿ ಮಾನೆ

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hope in many forms

The fire that raged through the lake on the 16th of March almost killed our spirit. By burning several of our trees, it had made a mockery of our effort to increase the green cover in the area. The sun's heat, rapidly evaporating the water in the lake, sapped our enthusiasm as well. Whatever little water was present was getting covered with the Salvinia Molesta. Our many efforts to mobilize skilled labour to remove the Salvinia were making no headway. Attempts to get more residents to strengthen our effort drew a blank as well and only our regular volunteers attended our recent assessment meeting. Despite all these, we couldn't throw up our hands in despair. Not yet at least. Not while our trees and shrubs are growing so well. Not while our resident birds are, well, still resident. 

We got our gardeners to water the plants every day buying a tanker load of water every three or four days (we still do not have a reliable water source at the lake) in the hope of reviving them and they did! The ground around the trees may be black and the few dried leaves cling obstinately to the branches but new leaves are sprouting!! Fresh, green and tiny but spelling hope and promise of a new beginning. 

Peepal sprouting new leaves 

Flame of the Forest sprouting new leaves

Two trees, the identity of which had puzzled us resolved the issue once and for all by flowering for the first time. The trumpet shaped yellow coloured flower tinged with honey brown is unmistakably Gmelina arborea (Shivani in Kannada, Gamhar in Hindi). The other is the Tabebuia rosea (Pink Trumpet Tree), and there are two of them growing tall in the corner near the encroachment, adjacent the main road from Brigade Millennium. 

Gmelina arborea (yellow flowers on tree) and Bougainvillea (pink flowers)  

Today morning, birder Srinivas called excitedly to say that while passing by he'd spotted a Painted Stork in the lake. What? Despite the little water and the salvinia? This had to be seen to be believed. We rushed to the lake and what do you know? There was indeed one big Painted Stork foraging for fish! Giving him/her stiff competition were a large sized Egret (Intermediate?) and a Grey Heron

Painted Stork foraging for fish

Three large birds - Painted Stork, Intermediate Egret, Grey Heron

The things that give us such great pleasure may seem trivial and small to others but may the lake continue to surprise and enthuse us all!


Sunday, March 30, 2014

A different perspective to summer lakes

Over the last few days, the Bangalore edition of The Hindu newspaper has carried two articles on lakes, both involving our Puttenahalli Lake.

On 26th March, an article titled "Lakes turn into sewage pools" was published. In summary, it reports a complaint made by a citizen regarding the state of the lakes in Bangalore (including sewage and encroachment) despite more than Rs 200 crore of State money having being spent on them over the last six years, which has drawn the attention of the Upa Lokayukta. Many of us know that some of the rejuvenated lakes do not have caretakers and are hence falling into a state of disrepair. What bothered some of us was that the article was accompanied by an anonymous picture of a lake - our Puttenahalli Lake. (The article can be seen online here.) 

Given that the title of the article was incorrectly connected with Puttenahalli Lake, PNLIT trustees wrote to The Hindu informing it that the picture was misleading; that PNLIT is continuously monitoring the inflows and is prompt to take action to ensure that sewage does not enter the lake. 

Today, 30th March, the paper carries an article titled "Puttenahalli Lake is in better shape now". It reports PNLIT's efforts to keep sewage from entering the lake, along with a recent picture of the lake, which unfortunately, as with the first article, does not support the text. (The article can be seen online here.)

While not rushing to judge the intent of the second article, it brings our attention to two important aspects of lakes:
- challenges in lake management, including reckless acts such as burning, which we have posted about here
- life cycles of rain-fed lakes (most of Bangalore's lakes are rain-fed complex ecosystems). 

Life-cycles of rain-fed lakes

During a good monsoon, if the water from the surrounding areas is diverted to the lake, the level of water in the lake rises (June - December), as we have seen at Puttenahalli Lake this past year. With the retreat of the monsoon and the onset of summer, the water level starts dropping. In small lakes and ponds, while the deeper parts hold out, large portions dry out completely. 

Dr S. Subramanya from GKVK, while explaining the natural cycle of small lakes, had this to say about Puttenahalli Lake: 
The very fact that the water is still holding out at your lake is an indication that the ground water too is holding out. Let the water level hold on its own and let us allow the natural process to go on as it used to. Summer drying will breath a fresh life into the lake, once the pre-monsoon inflow starts. This is necessary to kill-off all the invasive plant species before the next monsoon arrives. This also gives us a chance to do the necessary repair-works in the lake-bed: get to work with spades to scrap-off those unwanted weeds, cleaning-up channels, drain pipes, etc.

While keeping this in mind, it must be said that for most people, the picture of a "lake" is one of perennial water. Along with BBMP/ BWSSB, PNLIT has been exploring the option of getting treated water (water that has been put through an STP) from nearby areas into the lake. This would ensure that a reasonable portion of the lake has water through the year. Jakkur Lake in north Bangalore is one of the successful treated-water lakes in Bangalore, and is now a potential model for Integrated Urban Water Management. (For more information, read here.) 

PNLIT is working to strike a balance. 

We hope that this information we have shared gives you a better perspective of lakes and gives you answers to the questions skeptics may pose when you talk of the "success" at Puttenahalli Lake. Dry lakes in summer should not be equated to "money down the drain".