Friday, June 19, 2020

Big white flowers

Thank you to everyone for their kind words and greetings on the 10th anniversary of PNLIT. Our apologies for not acknowledging your encouragement and affection earlier. The reason for this delay in responding was a flower. Yes. A Big White Showy Flower. 

When we went to the lake on the 11th, the first thing that caught our eyes was a profusion of these big white flowers which hung from the chain link fence behind the gazebo. At first glance they looked like Brahma Kamal which blooms at night and droops during the day. That too, apparently once a year. 

Was nature giving us a gift? Though thrilled, we sent the photos to five experts.  All of them  confirmed that it is not the Brahma Kamal. Two felt it was likely to be Dragonfruit. This sent us into another tizzy. Our gardeners insisted that they had only seen the flowers, never any fruit. Today morning, our mentor said that it is not easy to guess what's preventing pollination and suggested that we try hand pollination since these are big flowers. We have no clue how to go about this just as we have no idea how the plant came up at the lake in the first place. 





Pictures taken by Sapana (our coordinator) and Ramu (our gardener)

A year or two ago, we had noticed the cactus-like stem growing on the bamboo behind the gazebo but, caught in other work, hadn't quite paid attention to it. Now they burst into flower and how! The Brahma Kamal flowers are said to bring prosperity and good fortune. We hope the flowers of the Dragonfruit will do likewise as we enter our 11th year!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

PNLIT is 10 years old!

It's with great satisfaction, tinged with disbelief, that we cross a major milestone today. PNLIT was registered on this day ten years ago! Our  plans to celebrate this occasion came to naught due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Nevertheless, we are happy to share with you a short video which showcases our journey with Puttenahalli Lake. An endeavour of ten years told in three minutes. 



The video has been made by Nupur and Pranshu Jain with inputs from Usha and all the photographers whose images have been used. 

A Big, Big Thanks from all of us at PNLIT. With you beside, we will complete another ten years!

Go Green and keep the planet safe for all its denizens.  
Be safe, stay indoors.   

Friday, June 5, 2020

Happy World Environment Day!

On the occasion of World Environment Day, let's take an oath to keep the world a better, greener, richer place - today and everyday!
Happy to share a newsletter for children brought out by Atree. Please click here to view/download. 
Do get your children to go through this issue. 
Thanks to Priya Ranganathan for bringing this to our notice. 




Saturday, May 30, 2020

Why do we even bother about Puttenahalli Lake?

It is with deep anguish that we are sharing the news of a house in the slum on our lake bund collapsing in the rain on the night of 28th May. Fortunately there was no loss of life or injury to anyone. 


House collapse, 28th March 2020
The Hindu, 30th March 2020
After seeing how extensively the slum dwellers had damaged the revetment by leveling the slope for their kitchen gardens and planting by the edge of the water, we had alerted the concerned authorities in Sept. 2017. The boulders had become dislodged, the walking track was uneven and sections of the inner grill had fallen down.  

We are particularly upset because this would not have happened if only the slum dwellers had shifted to the temporary sheds that the Karnataka Slum Development Board (KSDB) had built for them in 2014 at Bettadasanapura. By now, they would have been staying in 1bhk flats.

Rejecting the temporary accommodation as too small, they had filed a writ petition in February 2015 in the High Court asking for 20 feet x 30 feet sheds or individual plots of land. However, this didn't stop them from taking possession of the sheds on 24.02.2017 even though they continued to stay at the lake premises. When the matter was in the court, they razed 114 out of 118 sheds to the ground in July 2018. KSDB filed an FIR at the Bettadasanapura police and left it at that. We learnt about this after reading a report in the newspaper.

Deccan Herald, Sep 2018
The High Court disposed of the writ petition on 07.03.2019 with a directive to Respondent 1 - Principal Secretary (Revenue), Respondent 2 - Deputy Commissioner (Urban) and Respondent 3 - Karnataka Slum Development Board that they "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.”   

We personally handed over the certified copy of the judgement to each of the respondents and reminded them every so often about this order. The 12 weeks stretched to 14 months, the Respondents have still not acted on the judgment. Emboldened perhaps by this, by the fact that the Slum Board did not pursue the FIR at the Bettadasanapura police station, and by the direction in the judgement, the slum dwellers refused to cooperate with BWSSB and BBMP to complete the underground drain and divert raw sewage entering the lake. 

With some six or seven houses built right next to the pathway above the drain, BWSSB was constrained to lay a new line a few feet above the water (photo attached). 

On 11th June 2020, PNLIT will complete 10 years as custodians of Puttenahalli Puttakere. What have we achieved in these many years? 

  • We are the first citizens' group to sign an MoU with the BBMP and become official custodians of a lake in Bengaluru. 
  • We have encouraged others, individuals and RWAs, to become lake warriors. 
  • With permission from KSPCB filled the lake with treated water from an apartment complex.
  • Introduced a low cost water purification model with our Artificial Floating Islands that have since been introduced in some other lakes. 
  • Installed an aerator fountain in April 2019.
  • The once dry periphery of the lake now has rich green cover with  trees, shrubs and climbers.
  • Since 2010, the  lake has attracted over 100 birds (ebird link), insects, reptiles and more. 
  • Butterflies are swarming at the lake even as we write this.  

Aerial view, January 2020
Yet, when we look back we see the misery of a collapsed house, sewage killing the lake and weeds growing rampantly. 

Aerial view, May 2020

What we feel is the burden of challenges that seem insurmountable even after striving so hard to resolve them. And now, the deep worry that no more houses should collapse in the days to come.  

Ten years later, we are left with these questions:

If the government is not interested in protecting lakes, why do we worry about Puttenahalli Lake?

If they will not follow a High Court judgement, why will they listen to us, ordinary folks trying to save a lake in the neighbourhood? 

Why, indeed, should we bother about Puttenahalli Lake?


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Hope and Cheer at the lake in the times of COVID

The dark days of COVID 19 continue for us, humans, but the lockdown, it appears, has opened the doors of the animal kingdom. Our lake, unfortunately, continues to be plagued by sewage with the BWSSB replacing the underground drain at a snail's pace. We recognize and accept that they are hampered by the curfew, non-availability of workers and the occasional rain. Yet, we can't but hope fervently that they will pick up speed in the next few days and complete the drain replacement. Our lake has suffered enough, please, with pollutants and encroachers! 

In this bleak phase, what lifts our spirits is the surprising return of birds to our Puttenahalli Lake. 

Following the first shower a few weeks ago, we spotted from a distance, Egrets, Purple Swamphens, Eurasian Coots and Little Grebes. Our gardeners, who had been coming on alternate days to water the plants reported the presence of a large number of butterflies. Their photographs, grainy and shaky confirmed it but how do we see these for ourselves? Fortunately, last week we received an order from the BBMP to open the lake with restricted timings. That was enough for our photographers to make a beeline to the lake. 

Purple-rumped Sunbird (Pic: Gopinath Subbarao)
Plain Tiger (Pic: Aditi Mahesh)


Other than several Coots, Grebes, Waterhens and Purple Swamphens, Madhurima reported three pairs of Common Moorhens (they were foraging together and chasing away intruders) and a pair of Bronze-winged Jacanas. She saw a Terrapin and a Pheasant-tailed Jacana and, of course, swarms of butterflies. 

Bronze-winged Jacanas (Pic: Madhurima Das)
Common Moorhens (Pic: Madhurima Das)
Terrapin basking in the sun (Pic: Madhurima)
Ah the butterflies ... ! We had first feasted our eyes on Nupur's video and shared it with a few friends. Like a growing ripple, it reached more people. 


On Sunday, The Hindu carried an article on the butterflies swarming not just in our lake but in green spaces in the city. Since then, their number at the lake has increased considerably. Our gardener Ramu's video shows a veritable cloud of Dark Blue Tigers!


Apparently, this is the pre-monsoon migration of butterflies to escape the incessant rain in the southern part of the western ghats (Sahyadri). To know more, please see: http://biodiversitylab.ncbs.res.in/butterfly-migrations

BBMP ordered the lake to be locked from today as a precautionary measure. If you are not able to see the stragglers leave, you can do so when they return between mid-Oct and early Dec. 

We shall prevail over these tough times and take delight in these beauties of nature. Go Green and keep the planet safe for all its denizens.  Be safe, stay indoors. 

Thursday, April 2, 2020

PNLIT Update

The last update sent a month ago had expressed hope that the BWSSB and BBMP would soon complete their work to protect the lake from sewage. Covid-19 scotched this. Eight migrant workers continue to stay at the site premises but are unable to work because the rest of their team are confined in their homes. Will they be able to finish before the monsoon? 

Following the BBMP Commissioner's order, the lake has been made inaccessible to the public. 

Six weeks into our donation drive, we raised a decent amount of Rs. 6.23 lakhs. It is way below our target of Rs. 10 lakhs.  A couple of weeks ago, a well wisher had generously offered to match donations to an amount of Rs. One lakh. However, with everybody's concern centering around the virus and the lock down, we didn't think it was right to inform residents about this kind offer and ask them to donate to the upkeep of the lake. 

When the all clear is announced and life returns to normal, we will have to grapple with the shortfall. Our biggest expense is staff salaries. They are so dedicated, that they have been coming early in the morning to water the plants. For their safety, we have asked them to come to work once in two or three days. Moreover, we need to be careful about how much we spend on water because, with the lake long gone dry, we are forced to get tankers and they are so expensive! 






Earlier this week, we got to know that some families living on the lake bund were in desperate need for provisions. With PNLIT volunteer Sapana Rawat taking the lead and roping in Deepubai, our former student (http://plog.puttenahallilake.in/2015/05/our-triumphant-trio.html), we gave coupons to 40 families to redeem at Srilakshmi Stores in Arekere bus stand and collect 10 kgs of rice, 2 kgs of tuvar dal and one liter of cooking oil each. We extended the benefit to our gardeners, sweeper and the eight labourers of BBMP and BWSSB stranded at the lake. We spent Rs. 24,200 on this and are happy we were able to help 173 people in these harsh times! 

Be Safe. Stay Indoors. Above all, Respect Mother Earth!

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Update on Puttenahalli Lake revival

Happy to report that both BBMP and BWSSB are hard at work at our Puttenahalli Lake. BBMP has pumped out most of the water and are now getting trenches dug to drain the pools. Following this, they will begin removing some of the silt and muck from the basin, desilt the wetland, strengthen the bund, etc., etc. 

Trenches being made in lake bed to drain water

BWSSB has begun laying pipes for the underground drain. It is slow work since they are drilling deep into and along the ground taking care to ensure that the adjoining houses in the slum are not disturbed. Once they are done, sewage will be diverted into the new drain. At last!
Underground drain pipes being laid

Pipe welding

We are keeping our fingers crossed for BWSSB and BBMP to  work smoothly. If they are able to follow their schedule, the lake will be ready for a new beginning with the monsoon. 

We are excited about starting afresh too. For, in these ten years, it was not only the lake that evolved but our understanding of its ecosystem as well. With the lessons we have learned, we look forward to carry out new plans to make the lake and the surroundings even more attractive to birds, butterflies, insects, tortoise, turtles and what have you.

As we embark on this new journey, here's an opportunity to join us and share the wonderful experience of bringing the lake back to life once again. What can be greater than serving and connecting with nature? That too, in your neighbourhood? 

We need volunteers and funds. Please contribute generously to our ongoing donation drive. You can make your payment by Cheque (favouring 'PNLIT") or by direct remittance. For guidelines, see http://www.puttenahallilake.in/how-to-donate  Donations to PNLIT are eligible for 80G IT exemption.   

Best regards,
PNLIT Team


Thursday, March 5, 2020

Puttenahalli Lake Update

It's customary to give the good news first but I will reserve them for the end. The bad news is that response to our fund drive is extremely disappointing. In three weeks our collection is only Rs. 75,000 as against a target of Rs. Ten Lakhs! We fervently hope that your generosity will resurface as the financial year comes to an end. Our optimism and drive have seen us overcome one challenge after another. Will we see through this? The answer lies with you, folks! Our Puttenahalli lake is in your hands. 

Now for the good news, ever so many but here are the top ones!

1) The most important one is that BWSSB has diverted the sewage at Aradhana Layout. It no longer enters the lake!  

New chamber

2) After a see saw of "Will the slum dwellers allow BWSSB to replace the underground pipeline or will they stay the work?" BWSSB has got their act together it seems. They began by digging a chamber in the pathway yesterday and are in the process of concretizing it, as even as I write this. Were they spurred by a report in the Hindu dated 2nd March 2020? 


3) Two plants flowered for the first time and sparked off a debate between Nupur and me about which one is better! Her favourite is the Orange trumpet vine (Pyrostegia venusta) and mine is the Mickey Mouse Plant (Ochna serrulata). You can decide which of the two you prefer but psst.... mine got its name because the yellow petals fall off leaving the bright red sepals and fleshy black fruit to make it look just like, well, Mickey Mouse! 

Orange Trumpet flower

Mickey Mouse flower with red sepals

Mickey Mouse flower with yellow petals

4) Talk of ganging up to face a common enemy! Two days ago, we heard commotion in the lake basin and saw two Purple swamphens highly agitated and flapping their wings. Our gardeners said a snake must be going to the nest for the birds' eggs. We couldn't see it because the weeds were tall but other birds rushed to the spot and joined the parent birds to drive the snake away. The allies included another swamphen, three Eurasian coots, two Bronze-winged Jacanas, a Red-wattled lapwing and a White breasted waterhen. The Jacanas and the waterhen are particularly shy birds who scoot from the sight of people and here they were rallying around! They collectively brought the snake into the open. What a very long watersnake it was! And yet, it was no match for the birds. They sent it packing beyond the island and then the parent birds went back to their nest while their friends dispersed. It was truly a magnificent show of strength in numbers. 

Do you want to know how you can rally around to help our lake and its denizens? Click on  http://www.puttenahallilake.in/how-to-donate

Regards
Usha 

Monday, February 17, 2020

Moving forward together

Come June, PNLIT will be ten years old, completing a decade of the nurturing of Puttenahalli Lake! Time has really flown by. 

Residents of the neighbourhood, donors, volunteers, CSR funders - it is with your help that we have been able to maintain the lake and carry out environmental projects and awareness-related activities for ten long years. Your support has made our Puttakere truly a People's Lake and a model for many others in the city. A recent episode feature on Republic TV has catapulted PNLIT to the national level. Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been a part of our journey.
  
We work closely with the government and, as you would be aware, BBMP and BWSSB are in the process of preventing sewage from entering the lake once and for all. We are also actively pursuing slum rehabilitation. We are close to achieving our goals with transforming the lake. What will be required in the future is regular maintenance by PNLIT and vigilance from the neighbourhood to protect the lake. 

We're almost at the end of FY 2019-20 and we, at PNLIT, have started planning for the new financial year. Our estimated annual expenses for FY 2020-21 are Rs 12.55 lakhs, which we look to raise through individual donations and corporate grants/CSR. 


A grant of Rs. 2,45,000 from Wipro will bring down the target to a little over Rs. 10 lakhs.   

This is an appeal to everyone to donate to PNLIT for our neighbourhood lake - in your individual capacity and/or through your organisation. Do refer us to your CSR department. You will find a dedicated team of lake conservationists in us!

For those seeking income tax exemption under section 80G, this might be your last chance, given the new proposed income tax rules.

In addition to the annual expenses, we are also looking to build up the Corpus Fund, so that in future, the interest earned would meet the annual maintenance expenses to a large extent. Donations to the Corpus Fund will be much appreciated.

There are many ways in which you can make a donation – cheque, cash (up to Rs 2000) and direct transfer. You may also donate through a payment gateway as a last option – avoidable as there are 2% - 3% extra charges involved, and we'd much prefer to directly utilize every rupee you donate. Please visit our web page for details http://www.puttenahallilake.in/how-to-donate.

Together let us nurture and protect our Puttenahalli Puttakere and give our children an increasingly rare gift - a thriving lake.   

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” —Ryunosuke Satoro 

Best regards,
The PNLIT Team

Monday, February 3, 2020

Report on the Feb 2020 Family Fun Gardening Day

8-year old Adarsh was at the lake with his grandmother, much before the start time of 9:30 a.m. for the family gardening fun!

Our main task was to prune the overgrown hedge in the viewing deck, then clear the leaves to add to the compost bin. Adarsh was up for all of it and along with his grandmother he set to task. After having done more than a quarter of the deck, we all felt a bit tired and started to rake the leaves to rest our palms. Pruning and clearing the whole deck today looked impossible.



When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it - goes a saying. And the universe did conspire and out of nowhere came an army soldier to help us!

He was doing his run around the lake, saw a young kid and two ladies going chop chop and getting tired. He politely asked if he can also join in and went about pruning half the deck and more around the area. Seeing him we were also filled with new energy and finished all our tasks.


Turned out the soldier is on leave from his posting in J&K, he is in Bangalore to help his parents settle and has been visiting our lake for his daily runs as he has to keep fit. We had to ask him to stop as it was over 11 a.m.

Salute to the soldier, and to Adarsh and his grandmom, and their helping spirit. May their tribe increase.

Warmly,
Sapana

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Lake story on Republic TV today

In the program 'Har Ek Boond', Republic TV will be telecasting the Puttenahalli Lake story today at 4.30 p.m. 
Do watch.

Here is a trailer to the program.  




Friday, January 10, 2020

A very rare visitor indeed!

Last Monday, when our gardeners came to the lake expecting a day of routine work, little did they know what awaited them. On the revetment near the southern side, was a small tortoise that they had never seen before in our lake. Excitedly, they sent us the pictures of the tortoise with a distinctive golden brown star-like pattern on the hard shell. We’d never seen one like it either but there was no mistaking it - it was the Indian star tortoise! Wasn’t it an endangered species? We quickly looked up online and also contacted our in-house wildlife experts, Vishnupriya and J.N. Prasad.

The Indian star tortoise (Geochelone elegans), considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful tortoises with its distinctive carapace, is found in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Extensive poaching for the exotic pet trade has reduced their number and threatened their existence.

To keep the tortoise safe, we took it out from the revetment and put it in an open basket. Vishnupriya and J.N. Prasad came by to see our exotic find and to guide us on how to take care of it. They also told us to contact Mr. Ganesh, RFO, Bannerghatta National Park or Dr. Roopa Satish at the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.  We contacted both of them and arranged to send the reptile over. Meanwhile, we got some greens, carrot and cauliflower for it to eat and placed the basket in our office room for the night. The next morning we shifted our “guest” into a cardboard carton and kept it outside to bask in the sun. We watched quietly as it popped its head out, walked toward the feed and started eating.



Two days later, on Wednesday morning, we took it to the RFO’s office and handed it over to them safely. Our job was done. Today morning, we received this update from Mr. Ganesh:
The star tortoise is under preliminary  medical  care at Bannerghatta and will be released to wild after a week of observation for possible infection due to human contact. Thanks for a saving a precious endangered wildlife. It makes a huge difference in protecting the species on this planet.
Thank you
Regards 
Ganesh RFO
Bannerghatta National Park


We still wonder how it came to the lake.  Did someone develop cold feet and drop it off for fear of being caught? Whatever the reason, we are glad that we were able to rescue and rehabilitate an endangered Indian star tortoise.

For more pictures, please click on the link below: 

Best regards
Divya

Photos by: Ramu (PNLIT Gardener),  Rashmi (Manager) and Usha Rajagopalan 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Event report - Family Fun Gardening Day at the Lake on 4th Jan 2020

One could not have asked for a better start to the new year at the lake. 

Four young boys - Aryan, Arjun, Aadarsh and Rohan with their respective parents came with smiles and enthusiasm which only a child can bring to our world. There were four children and five adults who enjoyed the sun lit lake while doing their bit in helping the lake.








The children loved pruning the hedges, then raking the leaves and wheeling it away in a wheel barrow. They shared their pruning scissors, the wheel barrow and rakes with each other (the pictures say it all!). The excitement in finding a red powder puff flower, a green color spider and a snail shell was contagious. At the end, each couldn't stop asking for more gardening time and made their parents promise to bring them again to the next Family fun gardening day.

We hope to see them and more children, and you in our next session.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Lake Census 2020

Please participate in the Lake Census 2020. 
See the mail below from Dr. S. Subramanya, renowned birder and conservationist. 

Dear Friends,
This is a great opportunity for all of us to showcase the status of our wetlands and waterbirds in Bangalore. Since the High Court has evinced keen interest in knowing the status of our waterbirds and their wetlands in light of the 1989 Midwinter Waterfowl Census, I feel it is our collective responsibility to rise to the occasion to survey our wetlands for waterbirds. The results of the census that we showcase in comparison to the 1989 survey will have unending impact, where the judiciary can see how our waterbird status have changed due to mindless development of their habitats. The decisions that the High Court may take will have far-reaching effects to influence the way one needs to treat our waterbodies as waterbird habitats, not just in Bangalore, but across the country. 

Let us show to everyone across the country that we care for our birds that we love to watch and their habitats in our city. 

Please go, Register and lend your time and support for counting birds this January. 
I am committed to this 100%. Rain or shine, I will go.

Subbu.

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