Thursday, August 29, 2013

Weekend gardening at the lake

Do you know that gardening is good exercise? Gardening for thirty minutes daily has these benefits (to name just four):
1) Increases flexibility (loosening all those cramped muscles)
2) Strengthens joints
3) Decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels
4) Slows down osteoporosis

Not to mention the psychological boost you'll get about working out AND helping to maintain our neighbourhood lake. 

Even if you can't indulge in gardening everyday, you can do so this weekend at Puttenahalli Lake! 
Time: 7.30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Please bring a cap and drinking water. Gloves and gardening tools - optional. An email <> to confirm your participation will be welcome. 

To know more about why gardening is good exercise, please do a google search and tell us too!  

Have a healthy, active weekend at our lake.


Monday, August 26, 2013

60 young visitors to the lake

Children from three branches of a play school visited the lake today. They had been learning about birds and flowers from books and had come to see them in real.

The first excitement was an insect in the gazebo and then the walk began. 

As if flowers in our garden, butterflies flitting everywhere and birds in the sky and water were not enough, the sight of the chicks of the Common Coot made the three year olds open their eyes wider. A couple of slugs and a wriggling earthworm added to their excitement. 

Despite their very young age, the children were so well behaved. All kudos to the teachers who kept them engaged by pointing out each little natural treasure that PNLIT guide Mr.Gopinath showed them.

(Pics: Nupur Jain)

We hope today's visit to Puttenahalli Lake will stay in their minds for a long, long time.


Pictures taken by Mr Gopinath can be seen here.

First discussion session at Puttenahali Lake

Bhargavi Rao, Trustee ESG leads the discussion 

The open discussion session on 24th August 2013, was the first of a series of talks-discussions on "Changing Bengaluru", planned to be held every month at Puttenahalli Lake by PNLIT in association with Saaphalya Pramukha Trust.

Read the report by Nikita Malusare, Citizen Matters here.
More pictures of the event can be seen here.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Discussion: Changing Bengaluru - In your voices

You've cribbed, you've ranted, you've tolerated, you've praised (even if rarely) aspects of our city, Bengaluru. Here's an opportunity to let everyone hear what you think about the way our city is changing.

PNLIT and Saaphalya Pramukha Trust are organizing an open discussion on how the city echoes with the many sweeping changes brought about by time and people. 

Leading the discussion will be Ms Bhargavi S. Rao, Trustee, Environment Support Group (ESG), Bengaluru and Mr G.V. Dasarathi who promotes sustainable transport (cycling, walking, using a bus). 

Venue: Gazebo, Puttenahalli Lake, Near MLR Convention Centre, JP Nagar 7th Phase
Date: Sat. 24th Aug 2013
Time: 10.30 a.m. (please assemble by 10.15 a.m.)

About the organizers:

Saaphalya Pramukha Trust was set up to address the issues that affect people and society at large. These are concerns voiced by Pramukh Raghunandan, a young journalist before his untimely demise. His articles along with views of experts on aspects that capture the soul of this city have been compiled in a volume titled "So The City Echoes" which will be available at the venue for a donation of any amount you make to Saaphalya.  
Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust (PNLIT) is a citizens' initiative to tackle the worsening water crisis in the city by reviving our lakes. PNLIT maintains the Puttenahalli Lake with donations from the public. 

For more information, please contact:
Usha Rajagopalan (from PNLIT <>, 72597 22996

Monday, August 19, 2013

Planning for Story Telling Day on 7-Sep-2013

To celebrate International Literacy Day on 8th Sept., we would like to introduce children to the exciting world of reading with a story telling session at the lake. This is under the aegis of Pratham Books "One Day - One Story" initiative and will be held on Saturday 7th September 2013.

The story chosen this year is about Paplu, the little Giant who does not like to fight. His parents decide that he's unfit to be a giant so they shrink him and leave him in a village where he lives happily till....

Can you bring Paplu to life for our lil' kids? The book is available in five languages - English, Hindi, Marathi, Telugu and Kannada. Choose your language. Please email asap <>. Bring out the story teller in you, transport the children to another world! Volunteer. 

Plan to bring your children (age: 7+ ) to the lake on 7th Sept. Time will be intimated later. 


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Volunteers this weekend

On both Saturday and Sunday, there were about ten volunteers (including a few school children from Kumarans on Sunday) who did a clean-up of flower patches and other de-weeding. One of them, Rohit, came all the way from Marathahalli.  

Volunteers on 17th Aug 2013 (Pic: Sanjay M)

More pics by Sanjay can be seen here.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Seeing is believing

We are often asked why the lake is not filling up in spite of good showers. Unless you visit the lake once in a while and reassure yourself with your own little level markers, our explanations as given below may perhaps ring hollow though being true. 

* The rain in South Bangalore, especially in JP Nagar/Puttenahalli has been less compared to other parts of Bangalore. After the first showers in end May, it has been raining in our area only for the past three or four days. If it continues for the rest of the monsoon (till end Sept/Oct in Blr), the level will increase beyond any doubt.

* The diversion channel is working very well and is one of the reasons why we do have so much water in the lake. In fact, the force has been so much that the granite stones placed below the new inlet got dislodged. To break the force and to collect floating plastic, we got BBMP to build a couple of steps. 

Steps to break the force, and for a stepped waterfall! 

* This year there is a substantial inflow from South City side as well. 

* The alligator weed is growing so rampantly on the lake bed that it covers the water. We are taking steps to get the weed removed. It could prove to be costly as we intend to get it done with our funds, and not through BBMP.

Several of our regular visitors have made it a point to visit the lake just after a shower to see the water flowing into the lake. One of them, Rajesh Agrawal from Brigade Millennium took a short video last evening, that you can watch on Youtube here.

Seeing is indeed believing!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The pix tell it all!

Delightful sights at Puttenahalli Lake, 12th Aug 2013.

Growing tall... the Sheesham tree at the viewing deck

In bloom... the Sampige tree near the security cabin 

Nesting waters... mother Coot with three chicks

(Pics: Usha Rajagopalan)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

PNLIT loses an invaluable patron

It is with very deep sorrow that I bring the news of the demise of eminent bird watcher, long time Secretary of the Bombay Natural History Society, Padmashri Zafar Futehally today afternoon at Mumbai. 

He supported PNLIT at every step and we turned to him constantly for advice which he gave so readily. He had visited the lake in early 2012, first with his wife Mrs. Laeeq, ardent nature lover and writer. When he heard about the presence of the migratory Garganey Ducks at our lake, he came to see them, binoculars slung from his neck. He later brought his granddaughter to show her around the lake.

Zafar Futehally at Puttenahalli Lake, Jan 2012 (Pics: Sujesh S.)

Mr. and Mrs. Futehally shifted residence to Mumbai on March 31 but continued to take keen interest in our work at Puttenahalli Lake as evident in one of his last messages to me sent on June 23. 

From: Zafar Futehally
Date: 23 June 2013 22:02
Subject: Puttenhalli
To: usha rajagopalan 

At your convenience tell me about the progress of the lake. The rains must have made you happy. I hope the flock of Garganeys will show up in September.
We have a small lilly pond in our garden and a little Kingfisher sits watching the situation from a nearby guava tree, and at the right time swoops down over the pond and returns happily with a fish in its beak.
Hope to hear from you.  Zafar and Laeeq

We will miss you, Zafar Sa'ab. R.I.P.


PNLIT Stall at Brigade Carnival

The Brigade School Carnival held on 8th Aug. at the school grounds was a huge, glittering affair. We used the opportunity to promote lake conservation and its advantages as experienced through our Puttenahalli Lake. The hidden benefit of the lake recharging ground water may not stick in people's minds but the fact about birds and butterflies having a new home at our lake made quite a few eyes pop out. :-) 

The PNLIT Stall (Pics: Nupur Jain)

The proof of this was in our latest product - tea coasters showing a selection of birds and butterflies photographed at our lake. Several buyers commented that they were too pretty to be used as tea coasters and that they would put them up as show pieces! Another product that flew off the shelf was the Magnet. PNLIT trustee Arathi had transformed discarded bottle caps into very attractive magnets. Its irresistible pull brought some children again and again to our stall where they browsed over each piece before making a choice. 

Our products on sale

Our sincere thanks to the Brigade management for giving us this opportunity and to Mrs. Githa Shankar and everyone who visited our stall. We value your support to Puttenahalli Lake! 

Please email <> if you would like to buy the tea coasters (Rs.200 for a set of 6; Rs.40/single; Magnet @ Rs.30/piece). Samples below. 


Best value for money;
Best choice for a gift!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Children visit the lake, The Brigade School Carnival

6th August 2013

More than 100 children of Standard 3, from The Brigade School, JP Nagar, along with their teachers, excitedly made their way across the road to spend some time at the neighbouring Puttenahalli Lake.

PNLIT Trustees, Prasanna, Nupur and OPR were there to guide the children telling them all about the birds, plants and how lakes are important for all of us.     

More pictures of the visit can be seen here.


8th August 2013

For those who are connected to The Brigade School, do check out the PNLIT Stall at the school carnival, 11 a.m. onwards. We will have, on sale, PNLIT T-shirts, cloth bags, Birds and Butterflies Coasters and CapsToKeep CapMagnets. Also, gain some tips on lakes and spread awareness on their importance!  

Sunday, August 4, 2013

All over the place

This weekend, at Puttenahalli Lake, we had volunteers all over the place! 

On Saturday 3rd August, almost every part of the lake area was serviced. The large team of volunteers, mostly from Bosch, some from the neighbourhood, was able to do lots of deweeding and cleaning up. Pics here.    

Today, Sunday 4th August, there were fewer volunteers but they continued from where we had stopped yesterday. Pics here.  

Sincere thanks to every one.

Working at the viewing deck (Pic: OP Ramaswamy) 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Grappling with water weeds

If we think that with fencing the lake area to prevent further encroachment, planting trees and bushes and nurturing them, eliminating sewage, and getting more rain water into the lake, we have saved the lake, we're in for a surprise. That is just the beginning!  

It was last August when a gentle green carpet started spreading itself over the dormant waters of Puttenahalli Lake. PNLIT trustees brought this to the notice of a few experts who said it could be a form of algae, and that the best way to get rid of it was to get more clean water into the lake. With a scanty monsoon last year, very little water entered the lake, and with rain water being the main source of water for the lake, there was little we could do. It was several weeks later, when one of the experts actually visited the lake, that the green carpet was identified as Salvinia molesta, an invasive aquatic weed that thrived in water, and was capable of doubling itself in a couple of days. No wonder that during the time since we noticed it, to the time we positively identified it, the surface of the lake was totally covered, barring a couple of patches. Most likely, the Salvinia got into the lake with the rain water. 

Sept 2012, a carpet of Salvinia on the water (Pic: Usha Rajagopalan)

We knew that many of the fish under the water were still alive as on a few occasions we caught some boys with their fishing bounty. Reason enough for the purple heron and swamp hens to stick around, but many other birds that had made the lake their home quietly left. They were probably not getting enough food and we knew that they would come back when the situation was better for them. The fish and other water creatures did not have a place to go to, so the oxygen depletion caused by the Salvinia would affect them and they would be the ones to suffer. Till the time the Salvinia was removed, keeping some area of the surface free of Salvinia would help the oxygen level.

Clearing out the Salvinia was the priority. Manual (mechanical) removal was the most obvious method. PNLIT trustees got in touch with several agencies and contractors. MEG (maintaining Ulsoor Lake) and the Fisheries Department said they were not in a position to help. Those contractors who visited the lake gave us quotations in the range of Rs 1.65 lakhs to Rs 4.50 lakhs for what they said would be 15-20 days of work for 25-30 workers. The Salvinia itself is easy to remove, as we experienced with volunteers. Its roots are only on the water's surface, but one is limited by one's reach. In very shallow waters, one would need to get into the water to reach it. Where there is sufficient depth of water, a coracle or boat would help. Labourers usually get into the water after sprinkling lime on the water to kill the water leeches and rubbing themselves with Honge oil to keep the live ones off. They use bamboo poles and nets to rope in the weeds. Then the weeds need to be moved from the water and marshy areas to a place where they can dry out. So deweeding, the way it is done, is very labour intensive, and as we found out, very expensive.

Prasanna and OPR visited Madiwala Lake to see how weeds were controlled there. Water hyacinth is the dominant weed here. The lake has a fishing contractor, who harvests the fish, and the responsibility of deweeding has been given to him. As he has an economic interest in the lake, deweeding is important for him, and as the lake is very large, deweeding needs to be done on a daily basis. His team spends each working day doing both fishing and deweeding. The labourers apply Honge oil and get into the water to push the weeds towards and onto the shore. Then a crane is used to scoop it up and pile it away from the water. Where it is deep, they take a boat right into the thicket of the weeds, and others on the shore pull the boat towards them using a rope. This brings the boat along with a big bunch of weeds.

We were fortunate that the Salvinia infestation happened at a time when we still did not have a lake full of water. The lack of rain was a blessing in disguise. It gave us a chance to not panic in despair but instead research and experiment a bit also.

Research on Salvinia and weed control indicated a few options of removal. Apart from the manual removal we had considered, there was chemical removal – using chemicals/ herbicides which we decided not to explore because of the possible effect on the water/ aquatic life. Biological treatment using the Salvinia weevil was another option which we kept in mind.

Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP - which has the responsibility of large-scale deweeding at Puttenahalli Lake), in the meantime said it would undertake to do the deweeding along with another lake – in a couple of months. Being dependent on water, we knew that as summer approached, the Salvinia would dry out. So a couple of months would not be too bad. 

We realized that whichever method we used to remove the Salvinia, expecting total removal was impractical. We needed to have a proper regimen in place so that post removal, whenever the Salvinia was seen it could be attacked promptly. We decided to invest the money we would have spent on deweeding on proper equipment. In many countries (such as USA, UK, Australia), lake maintenance equipment is abundantly available, and this increases efficiency while reducing dependence on labour. We did a lot of online research and I had a few interactions with lake equipment dealers in the UK and USA, to get advice and ideas.

On our request, Gautam Aggarwal, a well-wisher from London, bought and carried for us, a very useful rake called the Aspen Lake Rake, which can be used to reach far out from the shore. He also got us an inflatable boat that we haven't had a chance to use yet. Kavita Arora, another well-wisher, arranged for a couple of pairs of hip-boots from London to reach us in Bangalore. We designed a few other floating aquatic rakes that we couldn't buy online and got them fabricated. We also got approved life jackets from a supplier in Mumbai. All this equipment is proving to be useful at the lake.

Aspen Lake Rake, from UK (Pic: OP Ramaswamy)

Serated tooth rake, fabricated in Bangalore (Pic: OP Ramaswamy)

Long tooth rake with float, fabricated in Mumbai (Pic: Arathi Manay)

By the beginning of March, with the water level at its lowest, most of the Salvinia had turned from green to brown. Over a couple of weeks, PNLIT volunteers helped in clearing the lake bed. It was a massive effort and this spurred the BBMP to join the action. The marshy and more difficult areas were handled by the BBMP contractors and the JCB. While a lot of the Salvinia was moved out of the lake bed and composted, the volume was so huge that we had to find another option that ensured we handled this in the lake premises itself. As the monsoons were still a couple of months away, it was decided to dig a trench in the lake bed and bury the desiccated plants.

9-Mar-2013 Volunteers clearing Salvinia from the lake bed (Pic: Usha Rajagopalan)

After clearing out all the visible Salvinia, over the next few weeks in April and May, we were always on the look out for its reappearance. With the rains in May the birds started coming back! The Salvinia did reappear in small patches and we got it removed each time.

4-Apr-2013 Fresh Salvinia (Pic: Nupur Jain)

30-May-2013 Scooping out new Salvinia patches (Pic: Usha Rajagopalan)

After a few times of doing this, Usha got in touch with Dr Ganga Visalakshy from the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bangalore and Dr Lyla K. R., from the Biological Control Unit, KAU, Thrissur regarding the Salvinia weevil. After discussions with them, we decided to try the weevil to control the Salvinia. The weevil eats only Salvinia so other plants will remain unaffected. Our well-wisher Ramani Ramasubramaniam carried the weevils from Thrissur and they were released into two small infested areas in June. When the Salvinia turns yellow, it means the weevil is at work. Normally the weevil spreads over to different parts where Salvinia is present, provided there is no obstruction in its path. Subsequently, we got another lot of the weevils, released them into new infestations, and are now keeping the weevil in stock. 

3-Jun-2013 Releasing the Salvinia weevil into a small infestation.
Alligator weed in the foreground. (Pic: Usha Rajagopalan)

While the Salvinia seems to be under control, we now have another "weedache". The Alligator weed has always been present in the lake. During the summers, we've seen it dry out on the land, but being amphibious and very hardy, it has never died out. In recent weeks, with more water in the lake, it has been crawling all over the water. With the ability to grow from a small piece, the Alligator weed is sure to keep us on our feet! We are now exploring how best we can use the equipment we already have and establish an efficient way to keep it under control.

We've also noticed what looks like green algae, supposedly caused by nutrients in the water, and are looking at tackling this too.

29-Jul-2013, Looks like algae (Pic: Usha Rajagopalan)

Once there is more water in the lake, we can look at means to aerate the water (maybe through fountains). A pedal boat to monitor the lake (pedaling will result in aeration) would also help. Aeration would increase oxygen supply to the lake and discourage weeds. Also, as the trees grow, their shade would hinder weed growth.     

For the long term

As more and more lakes are taken up for maintenance by citizens, we need to find an effective, efficient, yet economical way to handle water weeds. The BBMP/ BDA/ LDA have been using traditional labour intensive methods that require substantial budgets. It would be difficult for citizens' groups to get labour and to support such investment.

It may be worthwhile for the government agencies (or any private enterprising people) to invest in small water-weed management tools (that are not available in India but used extensively abroad) and larger weed harvesters/ pullers (either imported or Indian), that can be sold/ lent out to those managing lakes. With weed control set to be a major element of lake maintenance, a proper weed management agency (governmental or otherwise), that can help lake caretakers in devising strategies for effective weed control may become necessary.  

For those interested in knowing more about weed control, is an informative site. With the right tools and equipment, weed control could be as easy as pie!

Eco-Harvester (priced around Rs 30 lakhs) enables efficient weed control 
by a single person (Pic: