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. 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Family Fun Gardening Day at the Lake - 7th Dec 2019

Bringing the community together gardening session at the lake is back!

The first Saturday of every month is open to you to exercise your green thumb; to introduce your children to gardening; to work together with your family; to de-stress; to discover the small pleasures of plants; to be one with nature, and more.

Make the most of your neighbourhood lake. Join us on Saturday, 7th Dec between 9.30 a.m. and 11 a.m. for the Family Fun Gardening Saturday.

No registration required. Just come and enjoy the outdoors!

PNLIT Event Co-ordinator

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Deepavali greetings!

Warm greetings to you and your family for Deepavali! May this festive season fill your lives with light and colour, health and wealth.

The past few months have not been so great for us or for our Puttenahalli Lake given that sewage continues to pollute the lake and we persist in our endeavour to meet one government official after another to get it diverted. The situation is complicated for it involves slum relocation. This needs patient handling. What keeps us going is the strength in knowing how far we have come in these nine years. It has been a journey in which you, our well wishers, volunteers and partners, have cheered us at every step. Surely, we'll overcome these hurdles too some day or the other and achieve our goal of making our Puttenahalli Lake, a little avian and aquatic haven in our locality. 

Pics: Usha R, Dr Subramanya

Sep 2010 vs Oct 2019
(Pics Usha R, Srikrishnan V)

Our biggest concern is the impact of sewage on bird and fish lives. Fortunately, the rain is helping to dilute the sewage. On Thursday, 24th Oct. well-known ornithologist and conservationist, Dr. S. Subramanya, visited the lake and within an hour spotted as many as 23 species of birds in the lake! Here is the link to his checklist. 

With renewed hope, 
PNLIT team 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

One Day, One Story 2019

Dreamy bed time stories are a norm, but a spirited, animated story telling session on a bright, temperate evening, by the lake, with a large gathering of children and adults can be as enjoyable.

One Day, One Story the annual book-reading of Pratham Books that celebrates International Literacy Day (8th September), was conducted at Puttenahalli Lake by PNLIT. It was a fun-filled evening of energetic story-telling by Sonali Sathaye and Vijaya Balasubramaniam, who peppered their narrative with music, improvisation and theatrics. There were two stories told Gappu Can't Dance  written by Menaka Raman and illustrated by Krishna Chandan, and The Weightlifting Princess written by Sowmya Rajendran and illustrated by Debasmita Dasgupta. Both are published by Pratham Books.

Vijaya set the pace rolling with a chugging railway song that set the children in energised motion to some snappy music, followed by an endearing story of adorable little Gappu and her foibles with dance steps. She just couldn’t get it right! Nobody is perfect!

Sonali kept the spirits soaring with an exceptional story of a princess who broke tropes and gender stereotypes with her passion for weight lifting! The young audience enthusiastically participated by flexing their muscles and lifting their friends, followed by more funky, lively music and feisty dancing.

Vijaya and Sonali tapped into the power of story-telling effectively, teaching us about life and ourselves and how humanity, equality, empathy and respect are important in relationships. No wonder they say that hearing a good story brings out the best in us! It was altogether an enjoyable, memorable evening.

- Vijayalakshmi, PNLIT volunteer

Pic credits - Nupur Jain

Friday, August 30, 2019

Celebrate International Literacy Day with PNLIT at the lake

One Day, One Story the annual storytelling campaign of Pratham Books that celebrates International Literacy Day is Double the fun this year! And like the past few years, PNLIT is a part of this program.

This year there are two titles selected for the story telling event. Gappu Can't Dance written by Menaka Raman and illustrated by Krishna Chandan, and The Weightlifting Princess written by Sowmya Rajendran and illustrated by Debasmita Dasgupta.

Join an interactive storytelling session by Sonali Sathaye and Vijaya Balasubramaniam.

Venue - Gazebo, Puttenahalli Lake, JP Nagar 7th Phase, near MLR Convention Centre Brigade Millennium
Date & Time - 7th September (Saturday) 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Kindly assemble by 3:45 p.m.
Age group - 4 years and above
Entry is FREE
Register the participants by sending the details to pnlit.events@gmail.com. 

About the Storytellers
As an anthropologist, Sonali Sathaye sees theatre everywhere, including, most especially in the way we live our social lives. As a theatre practitioner, she seeks to share her enjoyment of this drama with children - so that they too may delight in the absurdity of the everyday.

Vijaya Balasubramaniam is a passionate dancer and loves to interact with children. Her passion for dance is superseded only by her love for greening this planet.

Looking forward to seeing you at the lake.
Please note that there will be no Family Fun Gardening Day at the lake on 7th September morning.

Event Co-ordinator PNLIT

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Event report - Photowalk at Puttenahalli Lake

Today's Photowalk with Ajay Salanky was very insightful. Eight adults and three kids participated in the session this morning at the lake where Ajay was more than happy to show, share and answer each one at their level.

The lake as usual looked gorgeous with playful birds, trees, insects, flowers, clouds, and the sun playing hide and seek. A perfect day to capture some good shots, which all the participants did indeed! A few of them by Mr. Rajuvan are here.

Here is a feedback from one of the participants, Ms. Seshavalli, outlining how the event was :

"We had an interesting and eye-opening session of photography workshop organized by PNLIT by Ajay Salanky. It was an enthusiastic small group consisting of all age groups. Ajay, who is a graphic designer and a professional photographer took us through the gamut of photography techniques with as simple equipment as mobile to as complicated as multiple lens. He explored with us and interacted with children as well adults on various topics ranging from techniques, composition, subject, white light, exposure,shutter speed, apps to be used, different ways of printing, photo walks we can attend, groups we can join, equipment and settings and gave us a whole new perspective to explore photography as a passion.

Thanks to PNLIT for organizing such an interesting session and thanks to Ajay for taking time out to interact with group of amateur photographers and clarifying many of our queries. Happy photo walking to all for a future of wonderful pictures with a new perspective! "

PNLIT Event Co-ordinator

Friday, August 23, 2019

Update on the slum relocation

In our message of 21st August, we had informed you on the action taken by the BWSSB on the sewage issue. This one is to give you the update on the slum rehabilitation front. 

As you are aware, on 7th March 2019, the Hon'ble High Court had disposed of the Writ Petition filed by the slum residents with a directive to the Principal Secretary (Revenue), Deputy Commissioner (Urban) and the Karnataka Slum Development Board that they rehabilitate them "providing minimum facilities and amenities." Closure of WP 
To ensure that the government takes a decision before the deadline of 21st June 2019, we had followed up the matter with the Respondents themselves or with senior officials in these departments. When the deadline passed without any action being taken, we had no alternative but to seek the intervention of the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Karnataka. Mr. Vijaya Bhaskar was kind enough to meet us yesterday, 22nd August in his office.
The Chief Secretary then spoke on the telephone to Mr. Balraj, Technical Director, Slum Board, about their plan to rehabilitate the slum dwellers. He has instructed them to follow the court order and initiate construction of the apartments for the slum dwellers.
We then went to the Slum Board and met Mr. Kumar Easwar, AEE. The KSDB has already drawn the DPR for the apartments. They expect the housing units in three floors (G + 2), 1BHK, size 300 sq. ft to be ready for occupation in another 16 months.
Four years ago, the Slum Board had built temporary sheds at the same site in Bettadasanapura. The slum residents had rejected these as being too small and had filed the Writ Petition in the High Court seeking individual plots of land for each of the 115 petitioners. In Feb. 2017, they had taken possession of the sheds but continued to stay in the lake premises. In July 2018, they razed the sheds to the ground.
We fervently hope that they accept these apartments and not destroy or damage them in any way. Nor, for that matter file another Writ Petition!
With fingers crossed,
PNLIT team  

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Update on the sewage inflow issue at the lake

Exactly a month ago, we had informed you about sewage killing our lake (link) and the illegal hutments coming in the way of the drain pipe replacement. Many of you had shared deep concern about this and offered all help. Indeed, your response to our online petition was heartwarming and the number of signatures in this short span is close to the 4000 mark. Sincere thanks to each one of you. You must be eager to know what happened to these two issues - hence this update. 

There is no progress on the rehabilitation of the slum residents. However, on 31st July, we had brought the sewage inflow to the notice of the NGT committee headed by Justice Santosh Hegde. BWSSB Chairman, Mr. Tushar Girinath, who was present at this meeting committed to get it resolved. He kept his word and a week later, replacement pipes were unloaded at the lake. The BWSSB officers began work after reassuring the slum residents that all care would be taken not to damage any of their structures.

Their progress is slow, impeded not only by the houses so close by but also by the rain and the already weak bund. Hence, they are not able to indicate when the work will be completed and when the sewage will begin to flow into the drain. We are also not certain how they will tackle that section in the middle where the houses are built right next to the walkway with the UGD running below. Nonetheless, we are grateful to the BWSSB Chairman, the Chief Engineer (WWM) and the ward officers. To everyone working on the site - good luck and godspeed!   

(Pics: Ramu, one of our gardeners)

The rain which is helping to dilute the sewage also increased the level and led to the lake overflowing yesterday. 

Overflowing (Pic: Ramu)
Lifting our spirits further and adding a bright dash of colour to the grey sky are the deep red flowers of the Cup and Saucer plant and vibrant yellow of the Gaphimia flowers on the chain link fence. They make us marvel, yet again, on the beauty of Nature. 

Cup and Saucer plant (Pic: Rashmi, our manager)

Gaphimia (Pic: Rashmi, our manager)

Heartfelt thanks to you again for your support. 

Best regards
PNLIT team

Saturday, August 10, 2019

World Photography Day Photowalk 24-Aug-2019 @ 7 A.M.

Celebrate World Photography Day with a Photowalk at Puttenahalli Lake with Ajay Salanky

With the monsoons in, nature is rapidly changing hues, making it an ideal time to explore and capture nature in all its glorious beauty. With its picturesque landscape, freshwater lake and rich biodiversity, Puttenahalli Lake is any photographer's goldmine.

Grab your DSLR, Point and Shoot or the handy mobile phone and join us for a 2 hour photowalk where you will learn the fundamentals of photography. In this photowalk you will learn new and exciting ways to photograph the natural world.

When - 24th Aug 2019 (Saturday), 7 A.M. to 9 A.M.
Where - Puttenahalli Lake, JP Nagar 7th Phase (near South City/Brigade Millennium)
Fee - Rs 200 per person
Age -  10+ years

Register your name with pnlit.events@gmail.com. Pay by cash or Paytm to 9886629769 before the event. The funds collected are for lake maintenance and the artists.

About the Walk Leader
Ajay Salanky, a graphic designer by profession, is also an avid photographer from Bangalore. His passion for photography complements his love for roads, especially the roads less traveled. He particularly enjoys capturing portraits, nature and moments with his daughters. Ajay started his design firm Kalakruti in 1999, which offers a wide array of services like branding, digital marketing, website development and more. He also undertakes architecture/interiors and product photography commercially. His works can also be found on Instagram @anillusion_itis.

Thank you,
- Sapana
PNLIT Event Co-ordinator

Monday, July 29, 2019

Family Fun Gardening Day at the Lake - August 3rd @ 9:30am

Our lake is going through a bad phase presently. Let's show we care for our Puttenahalli Lake by coming together for the gardening session at the lake  on August 3rd 2019.

The first Saturday of every month is open to you to exercise your green thumb; to introduce your children to gardening; to work together with your family; to de-stress; to discover the small pleasures of plants; to be one with nature, and more.

Make the most of your neighbourhood lake. Join us on this Saturday, 3rd August between 9.30 a.m. and 11 a.m. for the Family Fun Gardening Saturday.

No registration required. Just come and show that you care!
PNLIT Event Co-ordinator

Monday, July 22, 2019

Requiem for our Puttenahalli Lake

It is with the deepest anguish and helplessness that I write this - our Puttenahalli lake is dying. 

Our lake had clear rippling water a few months ago. Surrounded with lush vegetation, it had become a rich ecosystem and home to several species of birds. It was the walkers’ delight, venue for our year round environment awareness programmes for the community. All these may cease to exist.  

24th April 2019

As our long time associates, donors, volunteers, child participants and residents, we owe it to you to explain why and how a lake that was a model for others in the city should suddenly be in such dire straits. Hence this detailed mail:

Simply put, raw sewage from Nataraja Layout is killing our lovely lake. A year or so ago when it was still a trickle we had alerted BWSSB, BBMP and KSPCB. See update on sewage situation May 2019.  On 3rd June 2019, the residents of Nataraja Layout got fed up of the underground drain constantly overflowing onto the road. They opened up the drain to direct the sewage into our lake. Raw sewage began to gush into the wetland. 

16th Jun 2019, lull before the storm, sewage restricted to the wetland

We raised a red alert with the authorities. The Chief Engineer, Waste Water Management, BWSSB informed us that they had completed the procedure to replace the existing drain with a bigger one and issued a work contract. However, this had been stalled because the underground drain from Nataraja Layout  enters the lake premises below the walking track on the south east. The encroachers on the lake bund have built their houses and shops right along the length of the pathway.

As you are already aware, these encroachers had filed a writ petition in the High Court of Karnataka seeking for sites to be allocated to them, and not be disturbed from the lake bund in the meantime. On 7th March 2019, the Hon'ble High Court of Karnataka disposed of the Writ Petition filed by the encroachers with a directive to Principal Secretary (Revenue), Deputy Commissioner (Urban) and the Karnataka Slum Development Board that "Respondent Nos.1 to 3 shall take a decision on the representations of the petitioners in accordance with law in an expedite manner in any event, not later than twelve weeks from the date of receipt of the certified copy of the order. The petitioners shall not be evicted from the property in question till the decision is taken by respondent Nos.1 to 3.”  Closure of WP

We had personally handed over a certified copy of the judgement on 22nd March 2019 to the Respondents. Since then, we had followed it up with reminders (letters, emails, whatsapp messages) and personal meetings with them or their senior officers. We apprised them of the sewage situation and urged them to take an early decision.

The Principal Secretary (Revenue) called for a meeting a day before the 12 week time granted by the High Court was to come to an end.  At this meeting on 20th June, it was decided that the Slum Board should take a decision in this regard. 

On 4th July, we met the Commissioner, Karnataka Slum Development Board who said that their role is restricted to recognised slums and the one on our lake bund is not a "Recognised Slum". They are encroachers and that the Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority would be able to get them relocated. He spoke to the Deputy Secretary, KTCDA and instructed his Assistant Engineer to meet the DS (Deputy Secretary) at Vikasa Soudha after 3 p.m. that day. We insisted on accompanying the AE and met the DS who said he would write to the Revenue Dept. to remove the encroachers from the lake bund. The wheel had turned a full circle! 

The  Deputy Secretary, KTCDA  asked the AE to give a letter from the Commissioner, Slum Board stating the facts. He had wanted this letter to be given without delay. However, even after two weeks, the Slum Board is yet to do so.

The court deadline of 21st June has passed. One of the Respondents had told us bluntly, “No one wants to bell the cat.” This is the last nail on the coffin.

The quantum of sewage is such that it is now flowing over the wetland bund into the main lake. Our Artificial Floating Islands have long been rendered useless. The treated water from South City and the fountain we installed this April are fighting a losing battle. Nevertheless, BBMP (Lakes) and BWSSB are trying to find alternate solutions to divert the sewage. Even if they come with any, we fear, it would be too late for our Puttenahalli Lake.

18th Jul 2019, sewage gushing

18th Jul 2019, sewage overflowing from wetland into main lake

The average of samples taken from five different points and the reading in the wetland (where the sewage enters the lake) for January and June 2019 highlight the deterioration in the quality of the water. 

January 2019 
Average: 5.22 mg/lt; 
Wetland: 4.7 mg/lt;

June 2019
Average: 2.9 mg/lt; 
Wetland: 1.7 mg/lt;
Many of you have seen for yourselves the evolution of the lake from a garbage dump to one full of life. As our partner, you know that this transformation had taken us several years to achieve. Its degradation is swift. 

If the sewage inflow is not stopped immediately, Puttenahalli lake may soon become one more lake in Bengaluru killed as much by government apathy as by the pollutants.  

In sorrow, helplessness and anger,


Sunday, July 14, 2019

Kudos to a former PNLIT Volunteer Teacher

Some of you may be aware of the Classes at the lake programme (read about it here). We had to discontinue it for several reasons but along with our former students some of our volunteer teachers too have also gone from strength to strength. One of them is Mr. C.S. Narayanan from Brigade Millennium. The Sunday Express today carried his inspiring story - To Tuition Uncle With Love.

The article, however, does not mention that quite often Mr. Narayanan pays for the children's school fees or books himself. 

If you would like to help him and his students with monetary support, please mail him <csniyer77@aol.com> or call him on 080 - 41132657. 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Family Fun Gardening Day at the Lake , July 6th - Event Report

Our new lake manager Rashmi had made all the arrangements and welcomed the volunteers to Family Gardening Fun day on 6th July. 

Darsh, a teenager who is doing Social Action Program for his school involved himself in every gardening activity for more than an hour. Along with another volunteer Dinesh, Darsh pruned the hedges and removed the dead leaves. They then transferred all the leaves to the composting bins. Overall a very satisfying day at the lake.

See you all at our next Family Gardening Fun day on the first Saturday of next month i.e 3rd August.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

9 today

Thanks to all those who've taken this journey with PNLIT.
We're 9 today.

(Google never forgets!)