Monday, August 27, 2012

Spaces of serenity

National Geographic Traveller India (Indian edition of the American magazine) was launched in India in July 2012. 

The August 2012 issue cover story is on "Quiet Places, Spaces of serenity". 

While skimming through the magazine, we found a page for Bengaluru/ Bangalore where there is an article on the Someshwara Temple in Ulsoor, and below this there is a mention of "4 other spots for quiet time". One of the spots named is Puttenahalli Lake!

We would love to think that it is our JP Nagar Puttenahalli Lake that the editorial team means, but given that there is a Puttenahalli Lake in Yelahanka, we aren't sure. Anyway, it is a pleasant surprise to see a Bangalore lake recognised as a quiet place, alongside Cubbon Park and the Public Library, the grounds around the National Gallery of Modern Art and the IAS campus (which we think should read IISc campus where motorised vehicles have been banned recently).  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Deccan Herald video: A lake comes back to life

A recent video about Puttenahalli Lake - made by Deccan Herald.

Nupur Jain, PNLIT Trustee, talks to Deepashri Varadharajan, about PNLIT, Puttenahalli Lake and the birds that have now made it their home.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Public Affairs Centre Colloquium on Citizen Voices in Environmental Governance

"With economic growth, development and climate change, how India decides to govern its environment in the age of rapid transitions is of paramount importance. How individuals, societies and the state confront the myriad trade-offs involved will determine the state of the environment we leave behind us." PAC Colloquium

Public Affairs Centre is organizing a colloquium on Citizen Voices in Environmental Governance on 23-24 August 2012, to explore how citizens can play a constructive role in promoting better environmental policy and governance in India. The venue is the Bangalore International Centre (TERI Complex) in Domlur, Bangalore. 

Policymakers, researchers, development experts, activists and committed individuals will be speaking at the colloquium (speakers and the schedule can be seen hereto share their views and experiences on the themes of the colloquium  
- Laws, Regulations and Institurions on Environmental Governance in India
- Climate Change: Policies, Debates and Local Initiatives
- Influencing Environmental Policy in India. 

Usha Rajagopalan from PNLIT will be one of the speakers. Her presentation titled "Nurturing Puttenahalli Lake - A Case Study" will highlight how public-people partnership can achieve the seemingly impossible task of restoring a lake, making it a replicable model.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Independence Day activity, Nature Walk 20th Aug

At the Independence Day celebrations at Brigade Millennium on 15th August, PNLIT Young Rangers were given a few minutes to talk to the gathering of 200-odd residents, about lakes and PNLIT. PNLIT was also given a stall where the youngsters promoted PNLIT's T-shirts, cloth bags and nature walks. Sincere thanks to the Brigade Millennium Residents Federation (BMRF) for the opportunity.

PNLIT Trustee Nupur Jain, who has been guiding the Young Rangers said, "the children gave good speeches and very excitedly sold the T-shirts, bags and a nature walk".

Registration for the Nature Walk is open. Details below.
Date - 20th August 2012 (Monday - Id holiday)
Time - 6:30 - 9:00 a.m.
Location - Puttenahalli Lake, JP Nagar 7th Phase
Registration fee - Rs 30/-, includes a PNLIT Sighting Booklet
Eligibility - Independent children
Guided by - PNLIT Young Rangers, supervised by PNLIT Trustees/ adult volunteers
Contact - Nupur 9886629769.       

PNLIT Young Rangers Siddharth, Vishnu and Mihir talking at the Brigade Millennium Independence Day celebrations

PNLIT stall 

Earlier during the week, PNLIT received its new stock of cloth bags and Nupur had taken the children to the gazebo at the lake where they screen printed the PNLIT logo on to the bags. The children were thrilled to learn screen printing and enjoyed the session. 

Screen printing of PNLIT cloth bags 

Inputs: Nupur Jain
More pictures by OP Ramsawamy here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

PNLIT volunteer teachers required

The slum residents appreciate our effort in maintaining the lake and more so that by giving them garbage bins the entrance to their houses is finally free of trash. 

They are deeply concerned about the increasing number of their children failing in some subject or the other and dropping out of school. They would like us to organize tuition classes for the children. 

If you speak Kannada and are willing to teach any subject, any level, please email <>. Just one hour of your time will make a big difference to them and their children. The classes can be conducted in the gazebo at the lake.

Usha Rajagopalan

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Meeting of lake teams

A meeting of lake teams in Bangalore was organised by Arekere Neighbourhood Improvement Trust (ANIT) together with OneBengaluru on 5th Aug 2012.

The meeting was well attended by more than 125 people from 20-odd different lake teams including PNLIT trustees and volunteers - Usha, Nupur, Sapana, Vijay, Vivek, Prajna, Vishnu, Siddharth and Mihir. 

Usha, Vishnu, Siddharth and Mihir at the meeting
Photo: Nupur Jain

Directly after the meeting, a team of some 10 people from Kaggadasapura Lake in East Bangalore visited Puttenahalli Lake. They are keen on leveraging our experiences at Puttenahalli Lake to conserve their neighbourhood lake.

Below is a report of the meeting by Dr Arbind Gupta, chairperson of ANIT.
Report in The Times of India "City lakes are your responsibility" here.


A meeting of different lake teams in Bangalore was organized by Arakere Neighbourhood Improvement Trust (ANIT), together with OneBengaluru, Citizen Action Forum (CAF) and different lake teams. It was attended by more than 125 people from about twenty different lake teams across Bangalore. The objective of the meeting was to bring Govt and different lake teams together to leverage the strength of each other and to bring synergy of operation. 

The chief guests were
  • Dr Ravi Ralph, CEO Lake Development Authority (LDA)
  • Mr Brijesh Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forest BBMP
  • Mr Somesh, Chief Engineer BDA
  • Dr Ashwin Mahesh from OneBengaluru and urban expert
  • Mr NS Mukunda, President CAF
  • Mr Purushotam Ravi, Corporator of Arakere area.

Dr Arbind Kumar Gupta, chairperson ANIT, set the agenda of the meeting by giving a background of how the idea for bringing different lake teams came about. He also spoke about the concept of NEW INDIA as an enlightened group of citizens who do not remain a bystander but choose to become a stake holder by taking part in finding solutions to these problems. 

Dr Ashwin Mahesh highlighted the need for citizens to participate in public problem solving and begin with small activities. He talked about how each small activity of collecting / documenting lake info by public can help in evolving a solution and build the infrastructure and setup required to solve the problem. Later on, he also spoke about the idea of creating a platform, a good part of which is available in that can be leveraged for this purpose.

Dr Ravi Ralph talked about the various challenges faced by different lakes in the city. He was very clear that encroachment of lakes and destruction of catchment areas of lakes is causing havoc to the health and conditions of lake. He also talked about the roles and responsibility of LDA in Bangalore as an approving, monitoring and supervising agency, while the actual responsibility of lake development lies with BBMP and BDA. He highlighted the heavy contamination of lakes that cannot support even aquatic life.

Mr Brijesh talked about the draft policy that BBMP is coming up as a model for partnership with public. He explained the concept of Lake User Association (LUA) as a group of local residents of a lake, taking responsibility of maintenance and upkeep of lakes. He also talked about the source of fund required for maintenance and the fact that BBMP is considering about providing a part of the fund for maintenance of lake.

Mr Mukunda brought out two key points about the development of lakes. First is to know the topological structure of lakes that provides for natural connectivity of water flow between lakes. He requested different lake teams to walk around the path of upstream and downstream lakes and collect this information. He was also of the opinion that the only solution for maintaining lakes was to vest this responsibility with Govt agencies, in partnership with lake teams. He brought out the difficulty in sustaining lake maintenance if this is to be done by local residents only. He said that lakes are the only solutions to water problem of Bangalore and it can help bring ground water to within 200ft.

Mr Somesh also shared about the plan of development of lakes in South Bangalore and he talked about various steps being taken by BDA in this direction. It was suggested that providing information about various responsibility about lake upkeep will help local residents in supporting Govt agencies.

Dated 06 Aug 2012

Notice of the meeting here

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Cleaning and sprucing up both ends

Those familiar with Puttenahalli Lake will know that one end of the lake, towards L&T South City has 100-odd shanty/ semi-pucca/ pucca houses (generally referred to as the encroachment "slum"), relocation pending since the last few years. With human habitation there is garbage, and with no proper garbage collection mechanism in place, this end of the lake has always been messy and very difficult to keep clean. Other neighbourhood people have been adding to the mess by throwing their rubbish at the lake entrance. Now we don't know for how long the residents will live in the embankment but as long as they are there if they keep the lake and its environs clean, PNLIT's work as citizen caretakers of the lake will become that much easier.

Over the last one month we have stepped up our effort to stop people from throwing garbage at the South City lake entrance. The residents started taking us a little seriously and last week about 50 of the slum dwellers led by the popularly called Swamiji of the nearby temple, cleaned up the revetment along the stretch facing their houses. Our gardener Kumara heard the Swamiji reprimanding them about the filth around where they lived and told them that they should be ashamed to see others from far away coming there to clean up their mess. 

BBMP has been kept informed of our attempt to clean the area and and they have said that they will send their garbage collection vehicle regularly. The Environment Engineer from BBMP, Ms.Vijayamala has been very supportive. This morning, along with a garbage collection vehicle she also sent 5 workers to clear out the trash from the entrance and the drain. The piles of garbage had compacted and the poor men kept digging endlessly. The stench was unbearable, to say the least. It is terrible to think that our reluctance to handle our waste makes life miserable for people like Sivanna and Sekhar. We got them to sprinkle bleaching powder to disinfect the area. We will need to put fresh soil and plant some flowering shrubs there to overcome the stink. Ganesh, one of the slum residents who has a shop outside the lake said he will get the slum residents to clear out the rubble that still remains so that the area is totally cleaned up. We are looking at enclosing the cleaned area and giving the responsibility of maintaining this small patch of plants to the slum residents. The BBMP (Lakes wing) has promised to cover at least part of the drain with concrete slabs.   

Before clean-up

Clean-up in progress

Drain being cleared

We have placed a 220 litre plastic drum with lid for the slum residents to throw in their garbage. We have also posted a banner prohibiting throwing garbage near the entrance. 

Blue drum

No garbage zone

We, BBMP and PNLIT, have done our bit together. We hope the slum residents will understand and take the trouble to use the bin properly. If they do, the entrance will remain clean and the number of stray dogs would go down. The dogs carrying waste to the lake or chasing the birds would also reduce. In due course, we hope to get them to segregate their garbage and compost their degradable waste which will greatly reduce the waste to be disposed and produce manure for use at the lake. 

A request to people from the area - whenever/if you see anyone throwing trash at the entrance or randomly, please tell them to throw it in the bin. Only with such repeated reminders will we be able to get them to keep the area clean.

While cleaning up was happening by BBMP and residents of the hutments at the South City end, sprucing up was happening at the other end  near the Millennium arch.  A group of volunteers from the area folded up their sleeves to clear up the place near the gazebo and lay out fresh soil to make plant beds. It was most heartening to see some of the morning walkers join in, help for some time, and quietly leave. A big surprise was a gentleman who cycled in, smiled, introduced himself as Pankaj Dugar and said he had come to help. When asked where he cycled from he casually said Whitefield!

Volunteers at the gazebo

Work continues next weekend. Join in if you can!

Inputs: Usha Rajagopalan, Prasanna K. Vynatheya
Photos: Nupur Jain, Usha Rajagopalan

Photos taken by Pankaj in "Albums" on PNLIT-Treetle

Plant a birthday sapling

Shreya Sharma recently planted two saplings at Puttenahalli Lake, to commemorate her seventh birthday.

Two saplings planted at Puttenahalli Lake, 28-Jul-2012
Pics: Munish Sharma

Shreya's dad Munish Sharma, resident of the JP Nagar neighbourhood Brigade Gardenia Apartments, has "adopted" the saplings for a year. With careful nurturing, the saplings should have grown considerably by Shreya's next birthday.

If everyone planted a sapling on her/ his birthday, we would have a billion trees in India every year!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cutting a friend to size

Whether a human being or a tree, how little we value the aged never realizing the good in them. Just outside our Puttenahalli Lake is a tall tree which had leaves growing on branches too high up to identify what species it belonged to. The branch formation gave no clue either. Perhaps it was deciduous because sometimes only the twigs remained criss-crossing in interesting formations against the sky. Ever since PNLIT assumed charge of maintaining the lake, we noticed the fellow looming outside the lake because, come evening, flocks of birds like Rosy Pastors would fly from the lake and sit on its branches. After a while they would fly away unlike the Barbets, Woodpeckers, Grey headed Mynas, Parakeets and Shikra among others that nested or fed off the old tree. Our PNLIT Shutterbugs spent as much time clicking the birds as they did the water birds. Photographs can be seen on our website

Birds on the "dead" tree

White-cheeked Barbet Pic: Sujesh S.

Coppersmith Barbets Pic: Sujesh S.

Today at about 1.30 p.m., one of our volunteers driving past noticed some men cutting down the tree. She alerted us and we rang up our gardener to find out who was cutting it down while we tried to contact the BBMP. One of the men called back to ask if the tree was to be cut down or left standing. We told him firmly not to chop it and rushed to the site. Just as we reached the spot, however, it came crashing down. Apparently, the men had instructions from the Forest Dept. to cut down dead trees in order to prevent them from falling on people and vehicles. A very valid reason indeed except that our tree would not have been a threat to anyone. It stood by the roadside but generations of tree cutters had lopped off all the branches that would have hung over the road. Behind the tree was a steep slope with a profusion of weeds and no building anywhere near. Where was the danger of anyone getting hurt? Without considering these, the men sliced it with an electric saw. In one swift stroke, they have driven all the birds to seek another resting place, another food source in an increasingly hostile city. 

Branches all cut Pic: Usha Rajagopalan

Shouldn't the Forest Department identify the ones that could pose a threat and leave the others alone? Shouldn't they know that even a "dead" tree supports a large number of life forms? Seshadri, the man who led the cutters team, dismissed any suggestion of birds nesting in the tree. He reported to his superior officer in the Forest Dept. Mr. Vijay Kumar, that we were getting agitated for nothing, that there were no nests in the tree, only a few holes

Last Saturday we met a bird watcher at the lake who narrated how one particular hole in a dead tree became the home of three bird species one after another - a White Cheeked Barbet, a Parakeet and an Owlet. This is not unusual. Birds do not always build nests with twigs and leaves. They also drill holes or move into existing ones. The Indian Environment Portal says that " In India, 120 species of tree-cavity nesting birds have been identified but very little information is available about their breeding habits." The portal also says, "About 10% of the world's bird species are on the verge of extinction, threatened by trapping and tree felling."

The trunk stands alone Pic: Usha Rajagopalan

Early last month the Chief Conservator of Forests, Mr. Brijesh Kumar had visited the lake and we had pointed out the tree to him asking if we could officially adopt it. He had laughed and said, "Unfortunately, we are not approached for permission to cut down a dead tree." How we wish we had followed it up with him and found if somehow or the other we could adopt the tree. Would a ring of green paint around the trunk have protected it from the killing bite of an electric saw? We could not save the branches but, on our insistence, Seshadri and his men have left the trunk alone. Will it become a home to any bird? If another team of ignorant do-gooders hold back their saw, time will tell.

Text: Usha Rajagopalan