Wednesday, October 30, 2013

About the Bangalore Needs You - Civic Action Workshop

The event 'Raise Your Voice Bengaluru' (as I understood it) was to bring those concerned people who would like to participate in their own capacity to make our Karnataka a better place for us and our posterity. The venue was NMKRV College, Jayanagar 3rd Block on Sunday the 27th Oct 2013.

The lead person of the organizing group Mr. Rajeev Gowda spoke eloquently and sincerely, so too each and every one of the other seven speakers. The message was loud and clear! People come out and participate as rightful citizens of this nation, demand quality in all aspects & demand good governance.

Mr. Manivannan, IAS, Chief Project Officer at Kar State Highways Improvement Project, spoke about the need for everyone to lodge their protests when they see something amiss in the government departments. He emphasized that if more and more of us insist then any government department will have to buckle under the pressure, and this, he said was completely missing in our country. Also if one person demands explanation, e.g. say complaining about a BMTC bus in bad shape, it then requires a lot of perseverance from that person before the government reacts. Whereas when a number of persons complaining is more, then the remedy coming forward from the government is faster too, that is, he said 'Action time by the government is inversely proportionate to the number of people demanding'.

There was a group of eight youngsters in their 20s. They were from the group that is running a campaign called 'Swalpa Clean Maadi' (Clean up a bit). When they got to know that the program was delayed by about 30 minutes, they went out and cleaned up the foot path and painted up the kerb stones, street address board and even managed to get some lawn and lay it around a tree there. It was quite a stunning sight to see what could be done by a small group in such a short time. Of course there was a short video to show some of the wonderful work these youngsters have been doing.

Retd. Navy officer Commander P.G. Bhat gave out some stunning statistics, recollecting a few:-
That there are something like 67 lakh voters in Bangalore and there are approximately 11 lakh duplicates in them. He said even the MLAs & their families were listed multiple number of times and when asked...  well that's another subject.

Other speakers including Mr. Prithvi Reddy made a mention of the fact that only around 40% of the population vote and out of which half is either spurious or dubious votes, and that means  he said only 20% of this nation's people decide who is to govern us. Hence he insisted that each and every voting card holder must and should make it a point to come out and vote.

Mrs. Usha Rajagopalan's presentation on the people's participation in saving the lake highlighted the fact that only with the help of people can a 'gone for good' kind of a lake can be brought back to life.

Mr. Ashwin Mahesh's with anecdotes drove home the point that a society should increase the number of problem solving people.

Overall the evening program did show that we as citizens could make a big change in the quality and health of this country.


Some references and names:
Janaagraha,, Abide, Alternative Law Forum, DAKSH, Bengaluru Unites, Bangalore Political Action Committee etc. so on and so forth. Please see the websites for more information on individual activities of these organisations.
Campaigns like:
Pink Chaddi Campaign, Corruption Saaku
Interesting article on P.G. Bhat can be seen here.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Bangalore Needs You - Civic Action Workshop - 27th October 2013

Puttenahalli Lake Revival Team will be there.


Namaskara Bengaluru!

This is your chance to make 'Namma Bengaluru' better.

Come join us at the CIVIC ACTION WORKSHOP on Sunday, 27th October from 4pm - 8pm. Meet civic experts Manivannan (IAS) & Ashwin Mahesh (Mapunity, Lok Satta Party). Learn from success stories of Swalpa Cleanup Maadi & Puttenahalli Lake Revival Team. Engage in a panel discussion with PG Bhat, Prithvi Reddy & Uttara Narayanan on fixing the electoral rolls.

We will also launch our 'Weekend Warriors' program during the event.

Register here NOW! --->

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Nominated for "Bangalore Heroes"

Bangalore Mirror's Bangalore Heroes campaign looks beyond everyday do-gooders and simple acts of kindness, to honour people or institutions that have decisively and positively changed Bangalore for the better. 

PNLIT is honoured to be nominated for this, for turning Puttenahalli Lake from a dump into a fresh oasis. 

A big thank you for all the support that PNLIT has received - from the BBMP and other authorities, residents of the locality, volunteers, donors, the media and other well-wishers. Without this it would have been impossible to reach this far. We still have miles to go together.      

Bangalore Mirror, 18th Oct 2013

Read the article online here.
See the related video here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Shrike Sighting

Ever since our volunteers heaved the dead tree down the slope and onto the lake bed it has been a favourite perch for some bird or the other. Mostly though, it was only for mynahs and a stray kingfisher. Some days ago, our gardeners set the tree upright and planted it firmly in the ground, well above the water mark. In the recent downpour, however, the level increased to such an extent that the dead tree was exactly as we had wanted it to be - in a foot or more of water. Since then it has become a perch for Little Cormorants, Pond Herons and the Kingfishers. 

Our dead-tree perch (Pic: Usha)

On 8th Oct. at about 4 p.m., I spotted a new bird on the tree. It was about the size of a sparrow, with a grey crown and shoulders and a maroon back. Its wings and long white tipped tail were black while the underparts of the body were white. A bold white patch on sides heightened the striking colours of the bird. What was it? The black bandit like band over its eyes was a give away. I knew it had to be a Shrike but which one? 

I called Mr. Gopinath an avid bird watcher who from childhood has been keeping a record of every new bird he's seen, time and location. I described the bird that so obligingly sat on the tree, turning this side and that side like a model at a photo shoot. Mr. Gopinath said, "Wait. I'll come." 

That's fine but what if the bird flew away by then? Mr. Gopinath came by car with camera and bird book in hand and we began walking towards the dead tree. Just then OPR spotted a water snake zooming towards the nest of a Common Coot. Mr. Gopinath captured the drama of the snake evading the coots, the chick escaping the predator, the coots finally chasing the snake in the water. 

As we feared, by this time the bird had flown away and all that we saw were the bare branches. I'd taken fairly decent shots of the model bird and we sat on a bench nearby to identify it from Mr. Gopinath's bird book. It was without doubt a Bay-backed Shrike he declared and looked up. There was the bird sitting on the tree once again!

The Bay-backed Shrike (Pic: Gopinath Subbarao)

Subsequently we found out that it is not easy to spot the Bay-backed Shrike in an urban setting. It feeds on small birds, lizards and rats which are normally found in open countryside, thorny jungle and cultivated areas. It so happens that to the right of the dead tree is the highest (and driest part) of the lake overgrown with wild shrubs and bushes. We have rued the elevation here which prevents water from covering the ground but not any more. We have the best of both elements at our lake - water birds and the Bay-backed Shrike.

Lesson I learnt - always go to the lake with a bird guide. 

Happy bird watching to all.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Celebrating Puttenahalli Lake restoration

One of the highlights of Navaratri is the Golu (Bombe Habba) when dolls are displayed tastefully on shelves. It is also an opportunity for the family to show their creativity by setting up a park or garden with sprouts and little figures. What is less known about Golu is that in earlier times the celebration aimed at encouraging dredging or irrigation canals and river beds. The clay thus removed was used to make the dolls. 

One of the residents at South City invited me yesterday for haldi kumkum. Raji had arranged the Golu in the front room so I went automatically towards it and then stopped short. Near the wall, in front of the Golu steps was a very familiar sight - the Puttenahalli Lake! Raji and her young son Aditya had recreated the lake on thermocol with such attention to details that anyone who's visited the lake even once would be able to identify it! For good measure, on the wall was the PNLIT logo, the date palm!

More pix can be seen here.

I forgot all about the formal assembly of dolls on the shelves and sat on the floor in front of the lake as mesmerized as I am with the real lake! Did Raji know the ancient significance of the clay dolls? Perhaps not but what she and Aditya had done was truly to celebrate the rejuvenation of the lake. This is an honour each of us trustees will treasure for ever!

The vital role a lake plays is to act as catchment and prevent flooding in the area. Last night saw perhaps the heaviest shower in a long time and the water level in the lake has gone up by at least three feet or more.

For more pix see here.

Even with the bulk of the water going to the lake, there's water logging at various places. Imagine what would have happened if our lake had gone the way of hundreds of Bangalore's now extinct lakes! Truly, we do need to celebrate lakes by nurturing each one of them. 

Navaratri greetings to all