Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A "Doosra" in aid of PNLIT

"Doosra has a strong script and an unwavering focus on the theme. The subject is new and the dialogue well crafted, scoring sixes quite often with punch lines. Mention must be made of the several humorous moments. The exchange between Ganesh's parents on cricket as a career is particularly endearing." - The Hindu

"The play is worth watching for its appealing cast, humorous and witty dialogues. As the Video footage of Cricket is used in the play, one feels that one is watching cricket live."  - Deccan Herald

Doosra’s protagonist is the Game of Cricket. The changes in the game are depicted through the life of Ganesh, a 20 year old lad who gets selected to represent the country. The young cricketer's metamorphosis is driven by the forces of power, politics, money and pressure and is depicted in the 90 minute play which, through its various characters, illustrates the changing phase of the game which over the years has grown from a sport to a commercial venture.

The play offers the perspectives of - a father who still believes in the values of the game, an obsessed fan with a love and hate attitude, a Captain who is victimized, a Bookie who represents the darker side of the game and a Politician who patronizes the game for money. The highlight of the play is video projections as back drop - a feature that one is unlikely to have experienced in plays in India.

The play will be staged by Paradigm Creation, in aid of PNLIT.

DATE: SUNDAY, 13th JAN 2013                TIME: 3.30 p.m. and 7.00 p.m.


Sujata -, Cell 9880054070
Usha, Cell 7259722996 
Nupur -, Cell 9886629769
Ramaswamy -, Cell 9845079076


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Will your donation cheque be valid after 31st Dec 2012?

Till about a week ago, the answer to this would have been, “Only CTS-2010 Standard cheques will be valid after 31st Dec 2012”. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has extended the date for banks and consumers to meet the standard to 31st March 2013, vide circular dated 14th Dec 2012.

What does this all mean?

CTS = Cheque Truncation System
The basis of CTS technology lies in the use of images of cheques (instead of the physical cheques) for payment processing. So cheques will not physically travel to the originating bank for clearance, but instead, scanned images will be transmitted. This will also eliminate the concept of ‘outstation cheques’ as all cheques will be multi-city/ payable at par all over India.

The new ‘CTS-2010 Standard’ for cheques by the RBI is now scheduled to come into effect on 1st April 2013. 

From 1st April 2013, only CTS-2010 Standard cheque leaves, with certain prescribed features, will be generally accepted by banks. However, residual non-CTS-2010 Standard cheques that get presented beyond this date would continue to be accepted for clearing but they would be cleared at less frequent intervals, and possibly at a fee.

Give your cheques a check
If your cheque book was issued after August 2011 it is likely that your cheques are already compliant. If your cheques do not have the features of either of the cheque leaves below, then you will need to get a new CTS-2010 Standard cheque book before you can issue cheques to others for presentation, 1st April 2013 onwards. Non-CTS-2010 cheque leaves would still be usable for withdrawals at the home branch.

Features on CTS-2010 Standard cheque leaves

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Exciting times for our lake!

The Salvinia Molesta covering the surface of our little Puttenahalli Lake has not deterred all the birds! Our regulars, the Purple Swamphens, Purple Heron, Pond Herons among others had refused to leave the lake even though the invasive aquatic fern was spreading on the water. They have now been joined by a Grey Heron, a couple of Cormorants and Kingfishers! The Kingfisher especially is good news. It means that the water below the Salvinia is still fresh and alive. These were just a few of the birds we spotted in the midst of what seems like a 1001 tasks we have to do at the lake. Not that we are complaining about the tasks since we mooted them ourselves. :-)

These are exciting times for our lake. On our request the BBMP has issued a work order to execute a number of initiatives which will infuse new life into the lake.

The first of these is the Diversion Channel to draw surface rain water from the Brigade Millennium avenue road into the lake. The Channel will be laid from the BM arch to the lake. According to a Total Station survey done in Sept 2011 to assess the feasibility of diverting this water, the quantum entering through this new feeder channel will be quite substantial. The first of the massive (45 inches inner diameter) pipes have been unloaded and will be kept in place soon. The channel will be put to test during the next monsoon.

Pipes for the Diversion Channel

The contractor has also been entrusted with de-weeding the lake. Getting rid of the Salvinia Molesta is not going to be easy. It has to be removed manually from the water, dried and then disposed appropriately. The contractor's men are clearing another lake and once that is done, they will start de-weeding ours. We had only heard of Salvinia Molesta but not seen it at close quarters before. It is a beautiful aquatic fern, so decorative that it is sometimes used in home aquariums. However, the smallest fragment of the fern can double its dry weight in about two days, spread like a blanket over large water bodies and is known to have killed lakes across the world. We have learned our lesson with Salvinia Molesta. Any time in future that we spot a piece in our lake, we will pluck it out of the water. We have geared ourselves very well for this with a variety of rakes to snatch out the smallest bit of this hateful fern.

Gardeners at work clearing the slopes

While waiting for the Diversion Channel pipes to arrive, the contractor got his men to start digging a trench and laying an Irrigation Pipeline all around the lake to facilitate watering the plants. At present we get water tankers to fill the tanks and the gardeners use the wheel barrow to ferry filled buckets to water our 320 trees, many shrubs and other plants. A laborious task to say the least not to mention an expensive one. The bore wells around the lake are recharged thanks to the lake but the well operators do not reduce their charge one bit! The Irrigation Pipeline will enable us to plant two more rows of trees on the slope, countless small flowering plants between trees on the embankment, shrubs, creepers, climbers and what have you to give ourselves a green nice cover in the neighbourhood.

Irrigation Pipeline trenches

If you think these are just pipe dreams, please visit the lake and see the work happening. Perhaps you can supervise the workers and relieve us of that chore? Perhaps you may like to join us in our effort to maintain, or rather, transform a lake with people power?

Usha Rajagopalan

Sunday, December 9, 2012

13th Jan 2013, A play fundraiser: Doosra - The Story of Cricket

SAVE THE DATE: Sunday 13th Jan 2012 
Two shows - 3:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Doosra - The Story of Cricket is being staged at MLR Convention Centre, Brigade Millennium, J.P. Nagar 7th Phase. 

Come watch this quality English play 
and also help in the cause of lake restoration and maintenance.

For donor passes, in aid of PNLIT, contact:
 - Sujata, Usha, Nupur, Ramaswamy (details on the poster).

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Encouraging the bicycle

“The provision of secure, well located cycle parking is essential if people are to be encouraged to use a bicycle as a means of transport. By indicating to the public that cyclists are welcome, cycle parking facilities act as a message to motorists to consider cycling in the future.” – “Cycle parking” Information Sheet - Apr 2004, issued by Sustrans and Cyclists’ Touring Club, UK  

Cycle stand installed at Puttenahalli Lake (Pic: OP Ramaswamy)

Cycle parking at public spaces has never been a priority in Bangalore, and for that matter anywhere in India. Most residential and commercial spaces are designed with no consideration for cycle parking and often, cyclists have to scuffle with security guards to get space for their cycles at offices and hotels. Even a much patronized place like Lal Bagh got its first proper cycle stand only in July 2011.

Cycle stand installed at Lal Bagh (Pic: Mayank Rungta)

In contrast to India, in many other countries, such as Japan, where I recently spent a few days, cycle racks and parking lots for cycles, formal and informal, can be found just everywhere! The Japanese model where cyclists and pedestrians share the same space is one that could work well in India – the cycle-paths and footpaths are one, and often, the seating spaces provided for people are designed to double up as cycle parking spaces. So people on cycles and people walking use the same infrastructure.              

Cycle rack on the ground level of a small apartment block, Tokyo

Cycle rack at Ueno Park Lake, Tokyo
Sidewalk, Tokyo

Bench-cum-cycle-stand, Tokyo

Cycle parking lot, Hiroshima

A common practice: cycles chained to poles on the sidewalk, Kyoto

Cyclists and pedestrians share the sidewalk, Hiroshima
(Pics in Japan: Arathi Manay) 

Our gardeners at the lake (who come to work on cycles) had mentioned that they were worried about the safety of their cycles while at work, so they would often keep them inside the shed. Some of the visitors who cycled to the lake would chain their cycles to the chain-link fencing, poles or growing tree trunks while they went around the lake for walks or jogs. While these are practical options, we felt that we really did need to give some dedicated space to cycles so that those who use them will know that we want to encourage their use. What we needed was a place for about ten cycles to be parked and secured, usually for short periods of time.

At Puttenahalli Lake, we've been constantly looking at how we can reuse discarded material and minimise cost (cost often comes down with discarded material 'cause you get it for free or at very low prices - as people usually don’t value what they're going to junk). One example is a water tank that we have installed using old tyres as the base, that cost us a fraction of what it would have if we used metal and concrete.

Water storage tank supported on discarded tyres (Pic: OP Ramaswamy)

Apart from the cost aspect, the reuse of discarded material has environmental benefits 
- reduces pollution caused by the process of manufacturing/ recycling
- reduces transportation pollution
- takes away the need to find a place to trash it
And it enables us to be more creative!

So we were looking at how we could make a cycle stand using reusable material. Maybe discarded tyres or wheels or even cycle rims. We also thought of a simple horizontal bar (metal/ casuarina/ bamboo), to which the cycles could be chained. People often chain cycles to poles and trees, so another idea was to provide something tree-like - like 3 ft high casuarina/bamboo poles fixed firmly in the ground. We found many other design ideas on the internet which could be adapted to suit our need. However, innovation does require some time and effort to think through and then execute. So we got in touch with those involved in Ride A Cycle Foundation and Nammacycle, who are familiar with the bicycle scene in Bangalore. After getting a couple of quotes, we went ahead with a cycle stand similar to what Nammacycle is using at IISc, but made to accommodate cycles placed in one line. The total cost to set it up (including manufacture, delivery and fixing) was approx Rs 12,500/-. 

In future if we find the need to expand the cycle parking facility at Puttenahalli Lake, we hope we will be able to implement one that reuses, or, as is now often heard, one that upcycles! 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Painted on Stone

PNLIT volunteers at Puttenahalli Lake were clearing the area around the water body and they stumbled on this big stone. It took the might of four-five men to move it after digging it out of the ground.

Moving the big stone, Aug 2012 (Pic: Nupur Jain)

The shape of the stone resembles the shape of the PNLIT logo, so we decided to keep the stone. After a good scrub, see how Shana Gokul (artist, lives in the lake neighbourhood) has transformed it. PNLIT is now painted on stone!

PNLIT Stone, Nov 2012 (Pic: Nupur Jain)

Stone art has been around for thousands of years, almost as long as humans have. Early paintings on stone were most commonly done using the pigment ochre, sometimes mixed with binding agents such as blood, egg, fat and plant juices. Charcoal, clay and manganese oxide were other materials often used. Our stone was spray painted in silver and then hand painted, using enamels.

A search on the internet reveals that Stone Art/ Rock Art is a popular art form among both professional artists and hobby painters these days. One can pick up stones for free and they provide a unique surface to paint on. To know more about painting on stone, check out Artists that Paint on StoneYou may just find yourself a new interesting profession or hobby!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Increased Speed Post rates could give courier services a boost

With the presence of the PNLIT Store on eBay Charity, I've become a regular user of India Post and courier service companies – to dispatch purchases that have been made by donor buyers. We've had buyers from all parts of India, from large cities like Delhi and Mumbai to small towns like Chittoor and Soraba. To minimize our costs, I've always been on the look out for the cheapest way of shipping the products. So I've had the opportunity of experiencing the different India Post products and those of courier service companies too.

We're all aware that recently there have been price increases for various things. So when I visited the local post office on 1st Oct, I wasn't really surprised when I was told that the Speed Post rate had been increased. While an increase was not surprising, the quantum of increase certainly was.

With effect from 1st October 2012, local Speed Post (within the city) for packages upto 50 gm increased from Rs 12/- (inclusive of taxes) to Rs 15/- (exclusive of taxes). This works out to Rs 17/-, a 42% increase.

In keeping with its 'One India, One Rate' scheme where a package, weighing upto 50 gm, could be sent anywhere within India for a flat rate of Rs 25/- (inclusive of taxes), India Post has retained its single pricing upto 50 gm, but the increase is steep - the cost is now Rs 35/- (exclusive of taxes) which works out to Rs 39/-, a 56% increase. For packages above 50 gm, Speed Post has introduced differential pricing depending on the destination. More information is available on the India Post website.

With the increase in Speed Post rates, the price difference between courier service companies and Speed Post has narrowed down. One can get intra-city courier delivery at about the same rate as Speed Post. In fact, a courier service could actually be cheaper. For example, a 250 gm packet from Mumbai to Bangalore presently costs Rs 50/- by DTDC Courier, while through Speed Post one would pay Rs 60/- (exclusive of taxes) which works out to Rs 67/-.

Also, Speed Post has not been fully reliable, for me. Why is Speed Post not so reliable? In May, I'd sent a packet from Bangalore to a buyer in Delhi by Speed Post at Rs 25/-. In ten days, the envelope came back undelivered with the scrawl "Address not found". After rechecking with the buyer on his mobile, I was assured that the address was complete so I used a courier service to send the packet to the same address. It cost me double the Speed Post rate, but the packet was delivered in a couple of days. A written complaint to India Post received a written reply from them with a weak explanation of how the neighbours could not direct the postman to the address. There was no response as to why the Speed Post postman had not followed the delivery regimen – where more than one visit was to be made and the contact number provided was to be called to in case the address could not be located.

Rates remain unchanged for Ordinary post (Rs 5/- for upto 20 gm), Registered Post (Rs 22/- for upto 20 gm) and Registered Parcel Post (Rs 36/- for upto 500 gm). Registered Post and Registered Parcel Post have both worked well - for very light (under 20 gm) and heavy (close to 500 gm) packages respectively. Ordinary post, however, is avoidable. The days of separate boxes for local mail (green box), metro mail (blue box) and other mail (red box), when ordinary post was not so ordinary, seem to be over. It seems as if ordinary post is now only for those who cannot afford the 'premium' Speed Post or a courier service. If your packet doesn't reach its destination, there's no way of getting one's grievance addressed here, so one would be considered lucky if it reached at all.

All things considered, India Post is likely to to face stiffer competition than before, from reliable courier service providers, especially in places that have a keen presence of courier companies and/or if the post office is not within walking distance.

The Indian letter box through the years, depicted on a miniature sheet

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Workshop well enjoyed

The Nature Journalling Workshop on 7th October morning at Puttenahalli Lake, JP Nagar, was filled to capacity (limited to 15 participants) and was well enjoyed. The workshop was conducted by award winning illustrator Sangeetha Kadur and Shilpashree of Greenscraps, as a part of the "Nature in the city" event organised by ATREE, INTACH, Citizen Matters and Red Frames.

Pics: Vijay Kumar, PNLIT volunteer
Nov 16: Read a report on the workshop here

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Nature in the City, Oct 4-7 2012

7th Oct - Nature Journalling Workshop at Puttenahalli Lake

Classes at Puttenahalli Lake

The response to PNLIT's request for volunteer teachers to help the children from the slum abutting Puttenahalli Lake was overwhelming! 15 people volunteered their services for various subjects. Usha Rajagopalan, who initiated this activity, found out that classes are already being held in the temple located in the slum. She met the temple priest and the teacher Mrs Rajeshwari, who said that some students were in need of supplementary tuition and closer attention in certain subjects.

Vivek Krishna and Vijay Kumar are the volunteers coordinating the PNLIT Teachers. Classes are being fixed with students at mutual convenience and any breaks or complaints about absenteeism are reported to them for follow up with the parents/the temple priest. 

The first class at the lake gazebo on 25th August was a 1-to-1, where Mr Rajagopalan taught Physics to Deepubai of Std X. While there are many children who are enthusiastic to gain from extra classes to understand their school subjects better, there is a specific interest in spoken English and Computer Science and these are the subjects for which classes are currently being  conducted.

First class at the lake Pic: Usha Rajagopalan 

Mr Narayanan, a resident from BM Mayflower has been teaching spoken English on Sundays. In one of his reports after just a couple of classes, he wrote, "Today 3 students came. They brought 2 others too. These 3 are smart. I hope they continue. They talked more in English than Kannada today."

Vijay Kumar had a two-hour Computer Science session with five children last Sunday evening. They learnt about computer user logins, types of OS and MS Office basics with hands on practicals.

Computer excitement Pic: Vijay Kumar

The location of the classes has been a talking point. Some of the parents of the children wanted the classes to be held either at their homes or the temple. The temple has constant distractions with bell ringing and movement of devotees and many of our volunteers were not comfortable with this. The classes at the gazebo have been going well thus far, and it will be a pity if the children are held back from learning because of the location.  

Inputs: Vivek Krishna, Vijay Kumar, Usha Rajagopalan

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ganesha immersion at Puttenahalli Lake update

There were not too many immersions at Puttenahalli Lake this year. This may have been because the water in the lake is not very visible because the surface is covered with the invasive Salvinia fern. Another hopeful reason could be that people immersed their Ganeshas right at home!

According to our gardeners, about 10 to 12 idols went into the immersion drums that PNLIT had placed and there was one that someone had thrown just within the inner grill. One of the idols was from a travel agency in JP Nagar 9th Phase. It was good to see that most of them dissolved in the water.

Inputs and pics: Usha Rajagopalan

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ganeshas and lakes

Eco-Ganesha kai hote? (What is Eco-Ganesha?) For sixty year old Savitri, who has lived all her life in a village in Maharashtra, the only Ganeshas she knows are the ones they make with the soil from the beds (and surroundings) of lakes and ponds in her village. Her first time in the city, Savitri is astounded by the size and the variety of Ganeshas she sees in the shops and Eco-Ganesha is a word that has got fixed in her memory forever.

Like many proud Marathas, Savitri says that the Ganesha festival itself originated during her ancestor Shivaji's time, or so her grandmother told her. She is happy that the festival is celebrated so grandly in the city, but little does she know that many city dwellers are trying to emulate her and her village mates today.

In Savitri's village, preparations for the festival begin several months earlier. During the summers, the water levels in the lakes fall and the local potters collect the soil from the lake beds. Though the impact of digging soil out from lake beds is debatable, when done in moderation, it is said improve the availability and quality of water and provide a better habitat for the water life (like the fishes and frogs) when the monsoon arrives. The Ganeshas are made in the summer months itself, naturally dried and then stored to be decorated shortly before the Ganapathi festival. The potters use their own dyes made with turmeric, red mud, plant and other natural colours. At the end of the festival, the Ganeshas go back into the lake waters from which they were born, cleansing and nourishing the water with the herbal properties of the decorated idols. Water to water.


Today, we are dissuading people from going to lakes with their Ganeshas.

There are several eco-friendly alternatives that have been advertised. The government has also been asking people to go in for mud and clay Ganeshas, painted with natural colours, of small size that can be immersed at home. Despite this, it is expected that majority of the Ganeshas will not be 'eco-compliant' and their worshippers will be seeking out lakes. The material with which the Ganeshas are made, the paints used to colour them and the other accessories that are put on the Ganeshas are most likely going to be harmful to water bodies and the lives they support.

Puttenahalli Lake is not on BBMP's list of lakes designated for Ganesha idol immersion.  "Immersion of idols" is also on the list of Don'ts. But we are prepared! PNLIT has organized two different immersion points where water drums and flower collection baskets have been specially placed. A watchman and volunteers will also be on duty. Devotees who do turn up at Puttenahalli Lake will be asked to immerse their Ganeshas in the water drums at these points and save the lake!

Immersion drum
Pic: Nupur Jain

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Get ready for Season Two of "Spark The Rise"

The second season of Mahindra's Spark the Rise begins on 17th September 2012. See the Spark The Rise journey video here.

The Rise Blog said, "In order to re-ignite conversations and spread the word, we're conducting an exciting three-city tour of India."

Three 'Be the Spark' Meet-Ups were held over the last three Saturdays in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. Each meet had a different topic of discussion and some of the leading social entrepreneurs, change-makers and change-agents in each city were invited to be a part of panel and general discussions on the topic. Usha Rajagopalan from PNLIT was one of the panellists at the Bangalore meet and Arathi Manay from PNLIT attended the Mumbai meet as a guest.  
With Season One (Aug 2011 - Apr 2012) having been quite a success with 
- 1,346 projects showcased on 
- 48 grants of Rs 4 lakh each and 4 grand finale prizes totally Rs 1 crore awarded, Season Two is expected to be even better. 
Improvements and refinements have been made to the listing of ideas/projects, voting and awards.      

PNLIT's Puttenahalli Lake nurturing project was one of the 48 projects that received a grant during Season One, and PNLIT went on to be one of the 18 finalists who vied for the finale prizes. 

Spark the Rise has helped PNLIT in building awareness of the importance of water bodies and public open spaces, and the instrumental role of local citizens in safeguarding their environments. Improved visibility has resulted in more volunteers, sponsorship of specific items for PNLIT and more importantly, an active "lake saving movement" in Bangalore. 

With the grant received, PNLIT has put up important signage at the lake, planted about 100 more trees and shrubs to attract more birds and insects, enriched the soil, installed rain water harvesting infrastructure for water supply, got uniforms for the staff, bought required gardening tools and equipment, cleared a large portion of the lake bund of unwanted material, developed additional waste management/ composting facilities, installed exercising infrastructure... and we have plans and some money left to do some more to nurture Puttenahalli Lake back to its pristine glory!     

If you know anyone who has a promising idea or project in progress, encourage them check out the Spark The Rise Website. It may help them become a Spark! 

"Spark the Rise is a platform whose core purpose is to drive positive change in the lives of our stakeholders and communities across the world—to enable them to Rise. Spark the Rise enables lots of people to drive positive change by bringing them together behind innovative ideas and awarding the grant money needed to put them into action. Spark a fire—start a movement."

Planting of saplings by volunteers

PNLIT had requested volunteers to help with the planting of a few indigenous saplings at the Puttenahalli lake on Saturday 15th September. The process involved digging or expanding the existing pits, planting the saplings, filling with red soil and compost and if found necessary, securing the saplings with tree guards.

Prasanna Vynatheya's report on the activity:

We had a successful day this morning at the Lake planting the saplings.

It was encouraging to see our friend Pankaj who had cycled all the way from Whitefield to give us a helping hand. There were many others including Meera, Prashanth and wife from 24th Main, Dhaval and wife Gargee all the way from Koramangala, Vani from Cassia, Vivek's friend (he's been at the lake before and helped a lot) and of course PNLIT team Vivek, Vijay, OPR, Nupur and young Vishnu who joined after completing his home work. Thank you Arathi for your Facebook announcement, we got most of them from there. 

In all we planted 18 saplings and most of them got tree guards around them. These saplings included: Mango, Shivani, Muthuga (Flame of the Forest), Banni, Red Sandal, Parijata, wild Asoka and nati/country variety of Panerle (also called Paneer fruit). Sapana got her little daughter to plant a 5 ft tall Mango sapling as a birthday gesture.

Saplings lined up for planting
Pic: Pankaj Dugar

Saplings with guards
Pic: Nupur Jain

Sapana Rawat adds:

Aditi, on whose 6th birthday we did a nature walk around the lake last year, turned 7 recently and has been wanting to plant a 'nice' tree, got her wish fulfilled this morning. She had a great time along with her younger sister Mahiti. They both want to come every Saturday to plant trees :-).

Many thanks to Vijay for letting them tag along, Pankaj for taking their pictures, and of course the Uncle with a big cap (Prasanna) and the 'older' Uncle (OPR).

Aditi planting a birthday sapling 
Pic: Pankaj Dugar

More photos taken by Pankaj Dugar can be see here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Get Eco friendly Ganesha and Save the lake

It is ironic that after praying to Ganesha, considered the Remover of Obstacles we cause such terrible damage to water bodies by immersing the toxic painted idol and killing aquatic life! Please get an eco friendly Ganesha idol and save the environment.
All lakes and tanks in Bangalore have sewage water either pouring in directly or which is residual. Are you sure you want to immerse your beloved Ganesha in such muck? Complete the sanctity of your prayer by doing it in your own house in a bucket of clean water. Here is a link for contacts of Eco-friendly idols.
Have a great Ganesh Chaturthi but don't let your devotion kill a lake and the many lives it supports!
Usha Rajagopalan
Chairperson, PNLIT

Monday, September 10, 2012

Green Lake

Expanse of algae on the water's surface

Those who visit Puttenahalli Lake these days would see almost the entire surface green with algae. 

On researching about algae, we found this information on an algae control program webpage

Algae grow when they have the right conditions such as adequate nutrients (mostly phosphorus but nitrogen is important too), light levels, pH, temperature, etc. Generally the amount of phosphorus controls the amount of algae found in a freshwater lake or water body. The more nutrient-enriched a lake, typically the more algae in the lake. 

Healthy lakes need algae. Algae are important to the productivity of a lake or water body. Algae are primary producers. They use sunlight (through photosynthesis) to produce carbohydrates and are eaten by grazers such as protozoa and zooplankton (little animals like water fleas and rotifers). The zooplankton are, in turn, grazed upon by fish, which are eaten by bigger fish, and on up the food chain. A productive lake produces large fish and good fishing for humans as well as supporting food and habitat for wildlife and waterfowl. In this context most algae are desirable for lakes.

While algae are beneficial, there are some algae that are less desirous than others, and we've been worried about the green on the lake's surface. We will need to take out samples of the algae to check the type. Experts in the field whom we got in touch with tell us that "it is some kind of seasonal algae that is blooming now. Even though there is no sewage entering the lake, there are lots of previously collected nutrients within the lake that can equally well support such seasonal blooms." They also say that using algaecide to control the growth will have short term effect while adversely affecting the natural flora and fauna of the lake ecosystem. 

The only real solution seems to be to have more clean rain water entering the lake and diluting the nutrient residue. Unfortunately, the monsoon has been very bad this year and in the few showers that we did have, only the inlet near the coconut grove let in water. Unlike last year, only excess surface water from South City reached the lake. We need to find out if L & T has blocked the storm water drainage in some way and are diverting the rain water into the underground sewage line. If this is corrected and rain water from South City let into the lake, the level will increase considerably whenever it rains.

Another hope is that the BBMP is expected to begin work on the diversion channel from Brigade Millennium arch shortly. Of course, if the rain gods continue to overwhelm other parts of the country and not Bangalore, we can do nothing but watch the algae take over the lake completely. While it is no consolation, another expert told us, "Why only your lake? All the lakes in Bangalore are green now because of less than normal monsoon!" 

Inputs and photo: Usha Rajagopalan

Update 2-Oct-2012
We've identified the "green" to be a water fern called Salvinia and not algae. We are looking for contractors/ fishermen/ any others to help in deweeding. Please contact 7259722996 if you know anyone who will undertake this job. Having a boat/ coracle should not be a constraint as it can be made available on site.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Volunteers plant vetiver

Vetiver is a perennial grass (Binomial name Chrysopogon zizanioides, commonly called Khus) that has a very strong root system which grows deep and binds the soil wonderfully, preventing soil erosion. The island at Puttenahalli Lake already has some mature clumps of vetiver that were planted way back in 2010.

Vetiver clumps on the island (May 2011)

With the rains finally making an appearance, we've stepped up our gardening effort. 
This morning there were many gardening volunteers at the lake, from different complexes around the lake and even Jeanne all the way from Richmond Town and Pankaj from Whitefield. 
The volunteers planted vetiver along the one of the boundary fences (near Nataraja Layout).
The work planned for the weekend was all completed in one day! 

Volunteers at work

Planted vetiver

About a month ago, volunteers had helped in moving weeds from the lake bed/ bund/ surroundings and piled them for composting. This is now transformed into lovely rich manure, which we will use for the plants at the lake.

Rich manure

Heartfelt thanks to all the volunteers. We look forward to your continued support. 

Pics: Usha Rajagopalan, Harish Mahendrakar

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).