Monday, March 29, 2021

Celebrating Holi with flowers

Think Holi, and which is the colour that flashes before your eyes? 

...

...

Pink?  


Well, whether pink or any other, you will, most likely, find it in the gardens of Puttenahalli Lake. 

While we (and our statutory bodies) are still working to get our Puttakere back to looking like a proper water body, and still battling with Covid, the hundreds of flowers blooming around the lake do full justice to the festival of colours.

Purple Wreath

Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow

Blue Morning Glory
Blue Morning Glory

Blue Plumbago

Golden Trumpet

Galphimia

Cape Honeysuckle

Candy King

African Tulip

Perfumed Passion Flower

Red Cassia

Red Geranium

Bougainvillea

Crepe Myrtle

Pink Trumpet

Pink Geranium

Sweet Autumn Clematis

Spider Lily

Whitelady

White Water Lily

The flowers photographed by PNLIT Trustees Nupur Jain and Sangita Agrawal are all currently in bloom. Look out for them, and many others on your next walk around the lake.

Happy Holi to all the PNLIT family!

Friday, March 19, 2021

Remembering Mr. Zafar Futehally

(Photo: Sujesh)

On his 101st birth anniversary, we offer our tribute to Mr. Zafar Futehally (19 Mar 1920 - 11 Aug 2013). We were privileged to have him and Mrs. Laeeq Futehally visit our Puttakere in 2012. 

He had heard of our endeavour and had sent an email expressing his appreciation. We were thrilled to bits and had invited him to visit the lake. He did so with his graceful wife, an eminent writer and garden expert. She was quite frail and waited in the car while he accompanied OPR and me for a short distance asking so many questions about the depth of the lake in summer, source of water, how we were raising funds and more.

Zafar Futehally at Puttenahalli Lake Feb. 14, 2012 (Photo: Sujesh)

With PNLIT Trustee OPR (Photo: Sujesh)

When we told him about the migratory Garganey ducks arriving at the lake, he came to see them, cap on head and binoculars in hand. By then, together with Lesser whistling ducks, there was a flock of over a hundred of them. I relive that moment often – standing beside Zafar Sa’ab and seeing ducks, ducks everywhere in our little lake. Later that year, he brought his granddaughter along to see the Garganeys. That was his last visit. Our association with Zafar Sa'ab and Ma'am was very, very brief but we are so grateful that thanks to Puttenahalli Lake our paths crossed at all. 

Garganeys & Whistling Ducks, Dec 2011 (Photo: SK Srinivas)

Mr. and Mrs. Futehally shifted to Kihim in early 2013. He passed away that August and she followed within a year. We had kept him informed about the lake through emails and he would reply to each promptly and with great happiness. In his last email in July, he hoped that the Garganeys would return to our lake that year. They did. They may return yet again when the lake is back in shape, this winter, we hope. 

Female Garganeys, Dec 2013 (Photo: PNLIT)

Garganeys in flight, Feb 2014 (Photo: Sanjay Mysoremutt)

Usha Rajagopalan

Friday, February 12, 2021

“Once there was a tank called Puttenahalli Puttakere….”

As many may have noticed, BBMP has been cleaning our little Puttenahalli Lake in J.P. Nagar 7th Phase, for nearly a month now. After ‘dewatering’ the lake, they began to remove the contaminated soil, from the surface in some places and further below at others.  A fortnight ago, these pits filled with black water and at other places, damp patches formed where weeds began to grow. The underground water was getting exposed by the digging we thought, but the patches became pools which grew in number and size. 

 

A LEAKING PIPE:



On 3rd February, our gardeners reported that water was entering the wetland through one of the inlet pipes which discharged surface runoff from South City. We contacted the apartment complex immediately. They checked and rechecked. This inflow wasn’t from South City.
 

Was this leakage from the newly installed UNDERGROUND DRAIN (UGD) that BWSSB had laid last year? 


The ward office sent a contractor to locate the source and plug it. By then, there was some seepage from below the inlet pipes as well. He suggested that we block the pipe with sandbags. The back flow would indicate possible source which could  be repaired. We did as he asked.

 

The sandbags remained in place and dry though the seepage from below the pipes increased as did the water level in the lake! In just four days, i.e., by Sunday 7th Feb., many of the pools had not only grown but, they and the trenches dug by the excavators had vile, floating mass which was visible from a distance. We knew only too well just what it was - sewage. Once again. 

 


THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME


In 2017, an occasional trickle of sewage from the UGD at Nataraja Layout began to enter the lake through the storm water drain. Each time, the BWSSB Ward Office removed the blockage with a jetting machine. When it became a regular feature, we escalated the issue to the Head Office, but no action was taken. The polluted water led to a massive fish kill in March 2018.



We desperately tried to alleviate the damage by installing an aerator fountain in April 2019. However, infuriated with the sewage overflowing on the road, the residents of the layout opened up the drain and led it directly into the lake on 3rd June 2019. Sewage started to gush inside. 

 


LAYING OF THE (NOW LEAKING) UGD:


In deep anguish, we were on the verge of giving up altogether when we appealed to Sri Jayaram, then Chairman, KSPCB and later at a meeting of the NGT Green Tribunal Committee chaired by Hon'ble Justice Sri Santosh Hedge. Sri Tushar Girinath, then Chairman of BWSSB who was present at this meeting agreed to get the existing UGD replaced with a bigger one but warned that the slum could be an obstruction.  Nevertheless, he kept his word and work began in August 2019.

 

Working between the sewage filled lake on the one side and the illegal houses on the other, progress was very slow. All the while, the slum dwellers kept a keen watch and, nervous for their safety, even picked up fights with the workers.

 

 

At the stretch where a few houses came in the way, BWSSB compromised by laying that section of the pipe on the REVETMENT on the water side. This exposed pipe developed cracks and the contractor’s patchwork repair gave way at least twice in January 2021. 

 


Now, not only was this section leaking yet again but along with it, the entire length of revetment along the new drain was damp and foul water was collecting to form pools. 

 

 


BWSSB responded at once to the alert and worked till the early hours on 11th Feb, to clear the blockage. They are still at it today. While we appreciate their prompt response, jetting or temporary measures will not do. They need to come up with a permanent solution if the lake is to be saved. 

 

COULD ALL THIS HAVE BEEN AVOIDED?


Yes. If only the government had acted on the Order of the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka, passed on 7th March 2019 in W.P. Nos. 5073 – 5187 / 2015 (GM –RES).  These Writ Petitions filed by the slum dwellers were disposed of with a direction to (1) Principal Secretary (Revenue), (2) Deputy Commissioner and (3) Slum Board to take a decision on the slum dwellers’ representations (to the Deputy Commissioner on 23.09.2014) where they asked for allotment of individual plots instead of the temporary sheds already built for them by the Slum Board (and which they demolished in July 2018).

 

The Court gave twelve weeks’ time to the Respondents. On the 7th of March, next month, it would be two years since the High Court passed the order. The authorities concerned are yet to take any decision.

 

Time and again, we reminded them of the High Court order and the urgency for early action, given the sewage inflow. Frustrated at the Respondents passing the buck from one to another, we met the Additional Chief Secretary (Urban Dev.), the Chief Secretary (twice) and emailed the Chief Minister of Karnataka. In Jan 2020, we filed a case with the LOKAYUKTA to take action against the errant officials for dereliction of duty.  The next hearing is on 3rd March but, going by our past experience, we are fairly certain that the matter will get postponed further.  

 

HOW LONG CAN A BUND THAT IS ALREADY WEAK, HOLD UP, BEFORE ENDANGERING THE SLUM DWELLERS?


Way back in Sept 2017, we had alerted  BBMP and all the Respondents about the poor condition of the bund on the slum side. The inner grill had tilted in places and sections of it had fallen down.This happened because these residents had levelled the slope at many places to grow vegetables, fruit and flowers. In the process, they dislodged the boulders that were embedded on the bottom half of the revetment. On 28th May 2020, one of the houses on the bund collapsed and was quickly rebuilt. Since then, the bund has grown considerably weaker. The inner grill is almost nonexistent.


 

BBMP planned to strengthen the bund once the lake basin is cleared of the sewage sediment. With the UGD still leaking, and likely to do so in the future, what will they do now?

   

THE OUTCOME?


Our Puttenahalli Lake which looked this on 19/04/2019



Looks like this today, 12/02/2021



From 2010, working closely with the BBMP, residents from the neighbourhood and CSR partners, we toiled to bring a dry lake back to life. We overcame several obstacles on the way but 11 years later, the biggest two still remain – encroachment and sewage.


We have no words to describe our feelings at this point. If this situation continues we, and you, will soon have to say, “Once there was a tank called Puttenahalli Puttakere….”



PNLIT Trustees

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Thwarted yet again

Just about a week ago, we had ended our annual report on a cheerful note that the BBMP had begun cleaning the lake bed. Putting to work  a soil excavator and a JCB, the contractor was making excellent progress. 


5th Jan 2021


6th Jan 2021

Everything was undone by the rain which began yesterday afternoon and lasted into the night. We anticipated the worst and, as the photographs show, were proved right. 




After the rains

Today was bright and sunny. We will now wait for more such days with not a dark cloud in the sky till BBMP completes their work once and for all. Please strengthen our hope with your good wishes!
Best regards

PNLIT team

Photos taken by Ramu, Geetha Srikrishnan and Megha Malviya