Tuesday, December 31, 2019

As We Ring Out The Old And Ring In The New

2019. A roller coaster year. A year that we will not be able to forget easily. 

In March the Hon’ble High Court disposed of the writ petition filed by the encroachers living on our lake bund. The responsibility of rehabilitating them fell on the three respondents - Principal Secretary (Revenue), the Deputy Commissioner (Urban) and the Karnataka State Slum Development Board. The matter is yet to be resolved.
In April we installed our Fountain of Joy,  our “retirement gift” to Mr. B.V. Satish Chief Engineer, BBMP (Lakes) for his constant support and encouragement not only to PNLIT but to all fellow lake groups in the city. We were delighted that Dr. Vaman Acharya, ex-chairman KSPCB, graced the occasion. It was thanks to both of them that we are able to feed the lake with excess treated water from South City apartment complex.
In June we suffered a massive setback when residents in the adjoining layout opened the underground drain and let in the raw sewage directly into the lake. We had to go all out and seek help from everyone –BWSSB, BBMP, KSPCB, NGT Committee. BWSSB began replacing the underground drain but had to give up because a few illegal houses on the lake bund came in the way. The onus of making alternate arrangement shifted to BBMP. The uncertainty ended on 30 December when BBMP got their contractor to begin work. What a wonderful way to end the year - on a note of hope! 
2019. We had to do far more  to protect the lake this year than in the past. Our routine work did not cease. Here’s a quick recap of our highlights of 2019.
Flora and Fauna   On 27 February we put up two bird nesting boxes thanks to Mr. Uday Kumar, a birder and conservationist. We initiated a project on 5 May to create two bird hotspots with a grant from the Duleep Mathai Nature Conservation Trust, Anand, Gujarat. Dr. Kaustubh Rau led a nature walk on 20 January and Mr. Ajay Salanky conducted a nature photography workshop on 24 August. In association with Axis Bank, we printed a Puttenahalli Lake flora and fauna chart. In spite of the poor condition of the lake,  Dr. S. Subramanya, the well known ornithologist, spotted as many as 23 species of birds on 24 October. This boosted our morale!
Talks and presentations On 11 January 2019,  PNLIT Chairperson, Usha Rajagopalan, shared the Puttenahalli Lake experience at a workshop organised by Sensing Local together with Biome, Varthur Rising and Whitefield Rising to discuss and design the wetland for Varthur lake. On 22 March she gave a talk at an event held at Madivala Lake to celebrate World Water Day. On 16 July, she made a presentation at the Bangalore International Centre as a part of BBMP's submission for World Design City 2020, through the design firm Icarus.
Nupur Jain was a panellist at the Talking Earth's Future Cities Conference on 17 February. The topic of discussion was "Are Lake reviving efforts fruitful”?  PNLIT volunteer Vishnupriya Hathwar gave a presentation “Community Participation in Conservation – Case Study on the revival of Puttenahalli Lake at the National Seminar on Climate Change organized by EMPRI on 21 February.
Community based activities On 13 February, PNLIT held its first Citizen Science Programme in collaboration with Earth Watch Institute India and IISc.  which began with a nature walk led by Mr. J N Prasad.  Dr. Sonali Sathaye conducted a theatre workshop for children on 24 February with games, observation techniques, body movements and vocal exercises. We celebrated International literacy Day on 7 September with Ms. Vijaya Balasubramaniam and Dr. Sonali Sathaye conducting a lively story telling session. PNLIT printed bookmarks and desk top calendars with photographs taken by women photographers in the neighbourhood.
Welcoming Visitors The number of birds may be dropped because of the sewage but a large number of school and college students from the city and abroad visited our lake round the year. They included children from the Puttenahalli Government School and from Snehadhara Foundation; students from Dayanand Sagar Engineering College, Ramaiah College of Architecture, Griffith University, Australia, and from the Technical University, Braunschweig, Germany. 
On 26 April and 10 May, members of the Earthwatch Institute India, IISc and HSBC visited the lake as part of their sustainability Training Programme.  On 27 November, Jennifer Wightman, research scientist and artist from New York, USA, took soil samples from our lake and from several others to create an art work for an exhibition at the Bangalore International Centre.
Corporate Volunteers Volunteers from Cisco and VMware have come regularly to the lake to rake, prune, and manure, plant, and trim, de-weed and clean, to add to the aesthetics and cleanliness of the lake premises. 
Fun Family Gardening Day    The first Saturday of the month continues to be reserved for children and adults from the neighbourhood to exercise their green thumb at the lake.
Upgrading infrastructure With the number of visitors increasing, PNLIT installed 11 new benches along the walkway on 6 March.
A few hours are left for the new year to begin. We look forward to BBMP and BWSSB protecting our lake from pollutants. We look forward to birds returning and nesting. We look forward to you and our neighbourhood rallying to nurture the lake. We look forward to completing a decade in June 2020 as citizen custodians of Puttenahalli Puttakere!  
With heartfelt thanks for your support and endorsement in our journey.
We wish you and your family a very Happy New Year!
Compiled by Ms. Vijayalakshmi Kutty, Editor, "Ripples" the PNLIT Newsletter. 

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