Saturday, September 28, 2013

Eggciting Boating at Puttenahalli Lake

Maintaining our Puttenahalli Lake is really so full of challenges which tax, vex and worry us at times but it also springs surprises that make our hearts sing! Today morning was one such great day. Yellappa, the fisherman contractor called to say that his men were on their way to the lake to plant the stakes, remove the new shoots of weeds, clean the water of stray plastic, etc. They had come at 5 a.m. and left the fibre glass coracle at the lake. 

My friends and I swung into action. We had already bought the casuarina poles, three of about 4 ft length and three of about 11 ft. The men sharpened one end of the pole, fixed short halved pieces of bamboo across as a perch for the birds and we set off bearing these poles and the oar while the two men carried the coracle like a big umbrella over their heads. 

Nupur, her little daughter, friend and I went with the two fishermen in the coracle to tell them where to place the poles. That dry fissured ground of a lake bed where we had walked just a few months was covered with several feet of water. Some weed was growing lushly within the water (seen as dirty masses from the ground above). This plant though, is safe, home for the fish and the great variety of life in the lake, seen and unseen. 

We hoped to see some of the 3000 fingerlings we'd released two days ago. We didn't see any. They must be hiding among the weeds. On the surface of the water were hordes of Water Striders skimming everywhere. Among them in the rippling water we saw floating water lilies! Where did they come from? At PNLIT, we'd just been talking about introducing lotus and lilies. The lilies at least was already present and blooming!

Spot-billed ducks

Water lilies

Like the Water Striders we went here and there on the water. The men kept planting the stakes, thrusting it into the ground with force and hammering it firmly into place with a stone. The longest pole at a little over 11 feet was still not long enough for any of the three deepest places at the lake. We therefore got them planted at shallower points with a good foot or two jutting out of the water. Kingfishers, cormorants, your perches are ready. 

Water level markers - cum - bird perches

While removing the alligator weed some weeks ago, the men had left untouched little patches of the weed which had eggs in them, almost all of them of the Common Coot. A few of the older nests were vacant but one had a single egg in it. We went a little further (between the viewing deck and the inlets). Right in the middle of a lush growth was a nest. The men slowly guided the coracle around to give us a glimpse of the contents. The nest contained not one or two but a clutch of SEVEN eggs!  This sight alone was enough to encourage us that we are on the right track in making this little lake in our neighbourhood a secure habitat for birds!

Eggs of the Common Coot

The fishermen, back to deweeding work

Without support from the BBMP, donors, volunteers and well wishers, we would not have been able to achieve this miracle of restoring a lake and seeing it thrive. 

Thank you all. 


Friday, September 27, 2013

An exciting afternoon at the lake!

Yesterday, some of us spent a delightful afternoon at the lake releasing some 3000 fish (fingerlings) into the lake. Fisherman Yellappa whom we've hired to remove the alligator weed from the water bought three species - Rohu, Katla and Glass Carp from the fisheries department. The Glass Carp is a herbivore and will nibble the aquatic weed.  All three are fresh water fish and common species, popular among fish eaters but the ones introduced today are specifically to attract birds and not for human consumption!

The fish

Kumar releases the fish

The specs are fish!

We also tried out our inflatable boat, that we got from a well wisher last year. Since the water level increased only from this monsoon, we were able to use it only now. Yellappa and others rowed a short distance in the water. They returned safely all right but, though we have life jackets, the rest of us preferred to remain on firm land! The boat is specifically for periodic monitoring of the waters, and to assist in deweeding. Boating is not on the agenda!

Inflating the boat


Next steps:
* We've bought casaurina poles of different lengths which Yellappa's men will plant at various points in the lake. These will serve the dual purpose of indicating the level of water and as a perch for the birds. 
* We plan to introduce Guppies into the water soon. Guppy is a popular freshwater aquarium fish which feeds on mosquito larvae.

For those of you living in the neighbourhood - if you'd like to be a part of this excitement, please email <>;. We'll inform you about planting the poles, introducing the guppies, and anything else.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Reproductive success at its best!

Extracts from an email from Vishnupriya Hathwar, who frequents Puttenahalli Lake 


Just wanted to share somethings that many of you may have already observed [ or maybe not].. here goes !!

Due to the wonderful rains, the lake has filled up quite a bit, leaving only smaller islands for the birds.
In this, the most common birds- the Common Coots have chicks that are almost grown to adult size [ only the plumage is still lacking].
Spotted a pair of Coucals - appears that they too have a young one!! Spotted a small Coucal with FRESH plumage flying across the lake.
I have personally never seen a young one of a Pond Heron up close... happened to see one meek little pond heron with its drab mottles and blotches of dirty brown hiding in the weeds between the gate [entrance to the lake] and the island.

Long shot of coot and chick (Pic: Usha)

The purple swamp hens and the dabchicks [ little grebes] are not far behind in reproductive success !! some of them have chicks as well!

I am kinda missing the kingfishers and purple herons actually !! oh yes - managed to see the Pheasant tailed Jacana as well !! beauty of a bird I would say.

One suggestion - is it possible to introduce lotus leaves into a part of the lake?? This would get the Jacanas to start breeding there as well !!
I know some of us would question about the maintenance part... but that's something we need to do all the time right??

Over the last couple of years, more than 60 species of birds have been spotted at Puttenahalli Lake. We were pleasantly surprised to come across Golumolu's blog post in June, about birding in Puttenahalli Lake - that can be read here.
To know more about the birds of Puttenahalli Lake, check out the PNLIT Flora and Fauna webpage, that has this carefully documented.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Appreciate your support to PNLIT

Dear friends,

With a good monsoon this year and with street rainwater harvesting in place, the Puttenahalli Lake is slowly filling up with rainwater. The trees are growing well, and the birds, butterflies, fish and other creatures are settling down in this restored ecosystem. The people of the lake vicinity have an assured public open space and a place for recreation.

All this has been made possible because of the patronage that Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust, PNLIT (the custodian of the lake) has received from the residents of the area and other well-wishers, through visits to the lake, participation in the lake activities, volunteering and donations. 

Volunteers at the lake

School children on a nature walk

Nesting birds

Relevance. Because Lakes = Community = Life.
The relevance of lakes for a large, incessantly-growing metropolis like Bangalore cannot be emphasized enough. Pollution, shortage of water and urban flooding during heavy rains will only affect the city more adversely, year after year. Lakes have significant environmental, social and infrastructure development implications. They raise the water table in a geophysical zone, act as a catchment for rainwater (hence drinking water) and are responsible for the cooling convectional rain cycle that the city sees during summer. They reduce the zone's temperature and air pollution, act as a buffer space during flooding, clean the air and are a habitat for diverse animal and plant life.

For those who are not familiar with the background of Puttenahalli Lake, JP Nagar 7th Phase:

- A sign of successful development is the natural evolution of the lake ecosystem – animal, bird and plant life. From being a dumping yard in 2008 the lake is now home to at least 60 species of birds, including migratory ones, and wonderful flora. There is a 920 m walkway, a gazebo and guard house and visitors, walkers and bird lovers are frequent.

- Seeded by a group of residents (in 2008) keen to revive the ecological stability of the lake, in the interest of the community and nature conservation, PNLIT is the first citizens' group to take over a lake's maintenance from the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike).

- The working model, often referred to as the "Puttenahalli Lake Model", is being replicated by the BBMP/ BDA/ Lake Development Authority elsewhere in Bangalore City.

- PNLIT's efforts have today led to an extensive 'lake-saving movement' in Bangalore and has heightened public awareness of the importance of lakes through constant attention in the media.

- PNLIT won the Namma Bengaluru Award 2012, was the 1st runner-up at the TCS People's Green Award 2012, and was a finalist at the Mahindra Spark the Rise 2012. 

BBMP funded and executed the restoration of the lake but gives no financial assistance for monthly expenses and other improvements. PNLIT has been meeting these expenses through public donations, sale of our products (such as T-shirts, cloth bags, coasters, nature walks) and last year, through the awards received.
In the last financial year, PNLIT was able to make some key improvements at the lake including:
- planting of an additional 200-odd trees and shrubs
- sprucing up the approach area, a neatly secured, yet accessible garden area
- rain water harvesting tanks and well in the lake bed
- cycle stand, wheelchair access gate, exercise bars, essential signage
- small dustbins, enclosure for garbage near the hutments
- preliminary work for a butterfly house.

We also have acquired some useful tools and equipment that would assist in the maintenance and upkeep of the garden and lake areas. Apart from the monthly expenses, we have been focused on building up a corpus fund – so that in the years ahead, the interest earned will be able to meet a large portion, if not the entire monthly expenses.

Monthly expenses currently are in the range of Rs 40,000 – 50,000 per month. These include salaries of the field staff for sweeping, gardening, deweeding and other odd jobs, and other recurring expenses.   

The primary objectives of fund-raising are:
- to meet current monthly operational expenses
- to ensure a lasting, positive, dependable environment for community interaction and
- to make the lake development effort truly self-sustaining for the long term.

Our immediate fund raising target, to meet the expenses for 2013-14, is Rs 5,00,000/-, of which we have raised Rs 1,50,000/-. We are open to any innovative and interesting ideas that could integrate your family, organisation or institution, to help our funding needs to be met. Funding can be of any denomination, at this point we need all the assistance we can get. You can make a one time donation or a recurring amount periodically. 

Donations may be made in cash, cheque or by direct remittance.Donations are eligible for income tax exemption, u/s 80G of the Income Tax Act (50% deduction from taxable income) 

Donation in Cheque (in favour of "PNLIT") or Cash may be given to our representatives:
Nupur Jain, C612, BM Cassia – 9886629769
O P Ramaswamy, A917, BM Mayflower – 9845079076
Usha Rajagopalan, B3-502, South City – 7259722996
Vidula Krishnaswamy, Brigade Palm Springs – 9845423432
If sending cheque by post to our registered office:
PNLIT, Usha Rajagopalan,
B3, 502, South City, Arekere Mico Layout,
Off Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore 560 076 

Direct remittance
Internet Banking
Branch name - State Bank of India, RBI Layout, Bangalore 560078
Savings Account no 31209228099 in the name of "Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust"
MICR Code: 560002090
Transfer within India - IFSC Code: SBIN0004408
Transfer from abroad - Swift Code: SBININ BB423 (The bank charges Rs 500+other fees for Forex transfer - so not preferred)

Credit Card/Debit Card - PNLIT Store on eBay Charity

Let us continue working together to bring stability to the Puttenahalli Lake ecosystem. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call or email Usha 7259722996 <>.

Thank you for your continued support.
The PNLIT Team


Stay connected

Website - documents the progress of the project, flora and fauna
Email group:
Social media: FacebookTwitter
Blogs: Plog - The PNLIT BlogPuttenahalli Post on Citizen Matters
Blackboard, notice board and educational information boards onsite, in the lake premises.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lake Revival a Myth?

"Lake Revival a Myth?" is an article in today's New Indian Express reproduced below. PNLIT is happy and proud to say that Puttenahalli Lake revival is not a myth. The newspaper report has cited our work in the last para (highlighted in bold).

If you would like know what exactly we have done to revive the lake and how we are maintaining it as a People's Lake, please join a special Tour of Puttenahalli Lake on Sunday, 22nd Sept. at 9 a.m. Walk duration 1 hour 15 min. 

Please email <> to confirm your participation. 

Thank you

Puttenahalli Lake, 18-Sep-2013 (Pic: Syamanth)

Lake Revival a Myth? - The New Indian Express
By Shyama Krishna Kumar - BANGALORE

Published: 18th September 2013 10:01 AA

Last Updated: 18th September 2013 10:01 AM
The city has survived on lakes for centuries which were interconnected by an intricate network of canals. These lakes captured rainwater and stored it for use in post-monsoon, thereby, recharging ground water levels. Today, however, barring some of the bigger lakes, none has received water this monsoon, and so have remained dry.
"This was to be expected as measures need to be taken to save the water bodies of this city. Now it seems too late to restore our lakes to their former glory," says Leo Saldanha, Environment Support Group.
"First, the raja kaluves need to be stripped off their concrete heads so that porosity of soil beds is increased. People think that most of the water is stored in the lakes, but it's actually in the canals.
Trees and shrubs need to be planted along these canals, so as to help the water seep into the soil. Secondly, strict action needs to be taken against those who let out untreated waste into these waters. Residential sewage pits also need to be built. All lakes should also have their own lake protection committees," adds Leo.
Maintenance of the lakes has also been suspect with their care distributed among multiple authorities. However, the BBMP feels that this year has seen some progress when it comes to lake rejuvenation through rain water replenishment.
"Most of the lakes that have been developed recently, are all receiving water. The feeder canals have been opened and you can see fresh water flowing into the lakes," claims Satish, chief engineer, BBMP.
The Karnataka Government had passed a special law making rainwater harvesting mandatory for certain class of dwellings and commercial establishments in 2005.
However, Leo says, from the 15-20 lakh buildings that are supposed to implement this system, only 50,000 have actually done so and of these, many systems don't function.
Usha Rajagopalan, trustee, Puttenahalli Lake Trust, says, "On May 22, we had two buckets worth of water in the lake. Post the rains, the same evening, 45 per cent of the lake bed was covered. Over the entire monsoon, we saw an 80-85 per cent rise in coverage." She adds,w both residents and the government need to work hand -in-hand if lakes have to be recharged.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Two birds at the lake

The dead tree which our volunteers had placed on the lake bed in June this year has always had some bird or the other perching on it. 

Volunteers helped shift the dead tree to the lakebed (June 2013)

Today it was the turn of a Little Cormorant. The sight of these cormorants is heartening since they are predominantly fish eaters. From June to now, it is not only the birds that are new to the lake but also the water level as you can see around the dead tree in the photographs.  

Little Cormorant

Another lovely bird spotted today was a Pheasant-tailed Jacana in breeding plumage. They typically breed in the monsoon, laying eggs in floating nests. We didn't spot any nest today but will be on the lookout for them. 

Pheasant-tailed Jacana

What is more conspicuous, indeed at several places in the lake are the nests of the Common Coot. The coots are hatching or swimming with chicks of various sizes everywhere. They are converting the lake into a veritable nursery! 


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Nesting waters, blooming gardens

With the heavy rains, it is a delight to see how much water has entered the lake this monsoon and how quickly it has become a nesting haven for birds. The weeds are being removed from the lake by a dedicated workforce but stray little weed patches here and there, that have birds' nests in them have been left untouched. The bigger 'islands' have been retained deliberately for birds to shelter from overhead predators. 

The gardens of the lake and the trees have also been well fed by the rains. The blooming flowers are bustling with butterflies and other creatures. 

Pics: taken today, Usha Rajagopalan

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Paplu at Puttenahalli Lake

It was a magical morning at Puttenahalli Lake on 7th September. The occasion was a nation wide story telling event promoted by Pratham Books to celebrate International Literacy Day. PNLIT signed up to engage children in the locality with Surabhi Herur, a young and versatile theatre person who lives in Elita Promenade, Priya Ramakrishnan, carnatic music teacher and her daughter Sukanya a budding story teller from Brigade Millennium.  

The children and their parents began assembling a good half hour before the programme began and whiled the time by walking around and seeing the Coots and Cormorants in the lake. Once Surabhi began, however, no one had eyes or ears for anything except for her dramatic narration. 

To overcome the children's inhibitions, she got them to form a circle, walk around and say their name with a gesture/action. She and the kids then sat on the floor of the gazebo with the parents sitting on the benches all ready to hear about Paplu, a young Giant who is too kind and friendly, quite unlike others of his clan. His mother shrinks him to human size and leaves him to live with the head man in a village.

One day the village is attacked by Angaar, the bandit and his men. Paplu recites the mantra which his mother had taught him and whoosh… he becomes a giant again. His clothes, however, do not grow with him. He runs and hides himself till the village tailors get together to stitch a set of clothes for him. Wearing his new colourful clothes, Paplu the Giant routs the bandits and saves the village.

The cool breeze, the sound of traffic, the sight of birds, rippling water in the lake everything ceased to exist as each child became a Paplu in his/her mind. To heighten their excitement, the kids had to stick colourful pieces of cloth on a Paplu model made by the children of Snehadhara Foundation. 

Between Surabhi and Priya – Sukanya duo, the children got to hear the story not once or twice but thrice. The early birds who came for the first session in Kannada, sat for the Hindi and by the third round in English, they pretty much knew the story by heart.

The spell that Surabhi and Priya cast on the audience, young and old, was no less magical than Paplu's mantra! When asked if they enjoyed the story and wanted another session soon, the parents were as loudly enthusiastic as their young wards! Who indeed doesn't like a good story well told?  


Photos: PNLIT and Prime Jyothi
More pictures of the event can be seen here.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Saluting teachers

Teacher - the most important job in the world!

In a very small way, PNLIT is contributing towards the education of underprivileged children living on the Puttenahalli Lake bund. The classes at the lake started over a year ago, as mentioned in our blog post here. If the programme is doing as well as it is, it is entirely due to our dedicated volunteer teachers.

On this Teachers' Day, heartfelt thanks to them and indeed, to all teachers.

Please see last update on the PNLIT Volunteer Teaching Program by our volunteer Vivek Krishna here.

Classes at the lake

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

One Day, One Story @ Our Lake, 7th September 2013

About the PNLIT Story Tellers: 

Surabhi is a theatre person with wide ranging experience who loves working with children. 

Sukanya loves to read and is a student of Sri Chaitanya Techno School, Std 9.

Priya teaches Carnatic classical music, believes that kids need a platform to showcase themselves and have fun.

Don't let your children miss this opportunity! Tell your kids to tell their friends. Let them all gather at Puttenahalli Lake on 7th September and be enthralled.