Monday, August 15, 2022

Independence Day greetings

Independence Day greetings to all! Our prayer today and always for our beloved nation is best expressed in this poem by Rabindranath Tagore: 

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Mr. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala - RIP

At every opportunity, we thank our donors and well wishers. This is not lip service but comes from the heart. The amount each one gives is not important. What is, is their benevolence, their faith in us and our work as custodians of Puttenahalli Lake. If it hadn't been for these individuals, almost all of them live in the vicinity of the lake, we would not have been able to maintain our Puttakere. 

Once in a (rare) while, we get donations from people from other cities thanks to a friend or relative sharing the Puttenahalli Lake story with them. 

In Dec. 2012, we received a letter and a cheque from Rakesh Jhunjhunwala Foundation. To say we were taken aback would be an understatement for not only was the letter a surprise but the cheque was for Rs. One Lakh! How did he even know of us? It turned out someone from Bangalore had told him about our lake restoration endeavour and the benevolent man immediately wrote a cheque! 

We sent him a thank you note inviting him to visit the lake some time. He never did. His wonderful gesture to our Puttakere reinforced for us the goodness in people, even strangers in high places. 

RIP, Mr. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala

PNLIT team

Saturday, August 6, 2022

A narrow escape, hopefully!

The vigilance of our gardeners is to be applauded. On 3rd Aug, at around 5.30 p.m., they telephoned to say that "black oil" was entering the lake. We replied that it may be from the two-wheeler mechanic shop across the road and asked them to get it stopped. We were wrong. Our gardeners followed the trail of the "black oil" along the rainwater drain, on the road, into an alley and reached a closed chamber outside a huge packaging outlet. Behind this was an agro marketing depot which was the source of this liquid.  

Black liquid on its way to the lake through the drain
On its way to the lake through the drain

Black liquid collecting on the road
Collecting on the road

Even as they gave us these updates, we called the BWSSB ward office and BBMP (Lakes). Though it was nearing 6 p.m., BWSSB at once sent a jetting machine but they took one look at the discharge and returned the way they came. This was not their responsibility. BBMP (Lakes) informed the ward Health Inspector and offered to issue a warning to the polluter. We needed action. We wanted the pollutant to be stopped at once and we were racing against the rain! 

We called the company's Production Manager and insisted that they pump the liquid out of the chamber. The guy didn't know what exactly the liquid was and he hadn't been aware of it flowing out of his premises and onto the road! Our gardeners waited with the man till 9:30 that night and ensured that the chamber was emptied. Nothing could be done about the pools that had collected by the roadside and in the drain. 

The next morning, along with the BBMP Asst. Engineer, we inspected the lake first. The water looked slightly dark but then it was a cloudy day. We went to the godown which was piled with huge bags and bins. 

bags and bins inside the godown
Bags and bins inside the godown

BBMP AE warned the manager and we returned with a sample of the liquid feeling a little easier that the ingress didn't seem to have polluted the water. Once again we were wrong. 

Yesterday morning, our gardeners called to say that the fish was coming to the surface of the water all over the lake. We rushed to the lake. Indeed, the surface looked as if raindrops were falling gently causing little ripples in the water. Fish, big and small, were coming up to breathe everywhere. They do this when the water is highly polluted and lacks dissolved oxygen!

fish struggling to breathe
Fish struggling to breathe

Just the day before, on 2nd Aug., we had given water samples  to a private lab for testing. The last test done in April had shown DO as between 3.9 and 4.6 mg/L across five samples from different points! And yet, by noon, 4 big sized fish and 30 to 40 small ones (as the gardeners reckon) had paid the price for the low oxygen. 

Dead fish
Dead for no fault of theirs. Nile tilapia.

We telephoned the Member Secretary, KSPCB and apprised him of the situation. He assured us that he would send his officers to inspect and take necessary action. They came today morning. Meanwhile, our gardeners reported sighting two big dead fish and many more small ones which they didn't count. 

Big Nile tilapia fish dead
Big fish. Dead.

We will know what killed the fish when KSPCB analyses the sample and the water. Meanwhile, we fervently hope and pray that their number doesn't increase. This can happen if it rains and rains and rains some more.  

A few thoughts arise from this incident. The Production Manager had insisted that their products are "organic". Only a small quantity was enough to affect the fish in the lake which is now overflowing. What if this had happened in summer? 

Since we monitor our lake closely, we acted swiftly and averted a crisis. What about lakes that don't have citizen groups as stewards, as watchdogs?

Another blessing is that the Fisheries Department has agreed to exempt our little lake from commercial fishing. We are awaiting formal communication from them in this regard. However, the fisherman had caught the last lot on 27th June. What if... ? No. We don't want to speculate ....!

Our sincere thanks to KSPCB, BBMP and BWSSB for their swift action. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Bioblitz at Puttenahalli Lake conducted on July 17th, 2022

About ten of us spent a couple of hours on Sunday morning (the 17th of July) at our Puttakere covering as much as ten metres. And yet, even as we appeared to move hardly at all, Time flew!  There was just so much to keep us absorbed. The space was a compressed scroll, opening out into discoveries of sight and sound and scent - and eventually, even taste! Kaustubh Rau who led the Bioblitz began by having us look closely at the trunk of the mahogany on which fire ants (an invasive species, apparently) ran up and down sticking and stitching their leafy nests even as the lichen grew slowly, patiently. Those ants looked like ants but we also saw "spiders" which turned out to be ants, spiders who strung up their egg sacs (little green dots) in their nest-webs, spiders who left their "signatures" in their webs. What an intricate world theirs is!

participants at Bioblitz event at Puttenahalli Lake

It was a beautiful morning, shot through with that special silver-gold light of the monsoon (when it's not raining). A pair of dragonflies were locked in a long embrace, butterflies flitted about, coots and grebes chased each other  in a flurry of wings across the water. At one point mynahs started calling out loudly. We turned to see what the cackling was about and watched as the mynahs escorted a long rat snake (most probably) across the path, heckling it all the while. 

participants at Bioblitz event at Puttenahalli Lake

We saw cormorants, darters, purple moor hens, egrets, water hens, coots, spot billed ducks, a swooping brahminy kite, a slider turtle, all hanging out comfortably in what was evidently their home - sitting on the perches, drying their wings, staring out at the water, occasionally chatting with each other or diving into the water for a snack. A mother grebe left her nest with three little chicks following. The fourth eventually left, hitching a ride on daddy's back! 

participants at Bioblitz event at Puttenahalli Lake

In those two hours, we peered down, gazed up, crinkled our eyes to stare at movements across the water. There were strange beautiful fruit dangling from gorgeous broad-leafed exotic trees (the "Buddha Coconut" tree); the Kadam, the "badminton ball" (even though, as one participant pointed out, badminton is not actually played with a ball!) tree, a huge leafed "money plant", the cassia, the "pride of India", all held our attention. Eventually we ended up at a shortish tree (tall-ish shrub) studded with bright red "cherries". Delicious! 

pathway at Puttenahalli Lake

Nearing the end of the walk, we spotted a darter trying to rid itself of what looked like a ball of string from its beak, desperately rubbing it against various surfaces. It was painful to watch. The bird was evidently in some distress. The trustees were informed and they called the ARRC, hoping they would be able to bring some relief to the bird- they had released a fishing net from the beak of another darter only a week ago. The next day, we got to know that the darter had not allowed the rescue team anywhere near. No matter; it turned out that the bird had managed to get rid of the string ball all by itself, no human intervention needed after all.

birds at Puttenahalli Lake

Bioblitz or no, humans reverently gazing at them or just hurrying past or no, creatures live out their compelling lives - and although in a sane world their ability to do so should not lie within the power of humans, at the moment it does.  Photographs when uploaded on to the platform (under "Puttenahalli Lake") allows for all these to live out their natural lives on this planet as they were meant to do.

Cormorants at Puttenahalli Lake

Sonali Sathaye
South City resident

Thursday, June 30, 2022

A Darter in Distress

To nurture the Puttakere we maintain a "To Do" list which is like Hydra's head. Each time we tick off one task, two appear in its place. Divya, Nupur and I met at the lake yesterday, 29th June, at 1:30 p.m. to discuss, among others, trimming trees, ground cover plants, events, share updates on new initiatives and so on. An hour later we walked past the island and saw an Oriental Darter sitting on a perch on the revetment. 

Darter caught in fishing net
Darter in distress (Pic: Nithya)

Though it is listed as a near threatened species by the IUCN, we had a few of them at the lake but had never seen one so close. At first glance, it seemed to have caught a fish. Instead of throwing it up into the air and swallowing it head first, this Darter shook its head and fluttered its wings. We looked closer. What it had caught was not a fish but a little mass of fine fishing net! Even as we watched, the poor bird tried to scrape it off on the wood.

Darter bird trying to scrape off a fishing net
Darter bird trying to scrape off the fishing net (Pic: Nithya)

Our gardeners have learnt to see if any bird was in trouble and have even rescued a couple of them caught in the abrasive string of a paper kite. However, given that this Darter could fly or dive away, we decided to seek expert help and telephoned the Avian and Reptile Rescue Centre (ARRC). The rescue team readily agreed to come but they had to cover a distance of about 22 km maneuvering the afternoon traffic to reach the lake. We got home guard Nithya to keep an eye on the bird so that it could be located among all the Cormorants and Darters. 

At 4 o'clock the lake opened to the public. The increased footfall scared the bird and it flew to the island. That was where Ramu took the rescue team.  Even as the coracle approached, however, the bird flew to another part of the island. Its next hiding place was below the low hanging branch of a Singapore Cherry. We didn't see it swim away but it popped up on a branch several metres away.  By now a number of walkers, young and old, had gathered to watch this game of "dive and seek" which could turn deadly if the bird wasn't caught soon. With dusk falling, the two rescuers decided to look around just once more, this time from the pathway. 

Darter bird on the island
Escape to the island (Pic: Nithya)

The bird must have been exhausted by then and they managed to catch it. Wrapping a thick towel around it, they gently removed the treacherous net before releasing the Darter into the water. 

Darter bird being released after being freed of the net on its beak
Darter being released (Pic: Nithya)

Released Darter (Pic: Nithya) 

Rescuers watch the Darter swim away (Pic: Nithya) 

Our deepest gratitude to ARRC for their prompt help. 

Best regards


Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Event report - World Environment Day and 12 years of PNLIT

Two attendees write about the event

World Environment Day, 2022 started with an educational and inspirational morning  for the citizens of JP Nagar. Organised by Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust (PNLIT), Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA) and Indian Music Experience (IME), this turned out to be a once in a lifetime experience.

PNLIT celebrated their 12th year as a Trust on this occasion. Ms. Sapana Rawat hosted the event while Ms. Usha Rajagopalan, the chairperson of PNLIT showed us the video of the incredible 12 yr journey of the lake. She mentioned how PNLIT works with the various government departments and how it has come so far with strong support from the neighbourhood residents. 

Ms. Kaveri from KSLSA gave an enlightening talk, highlighting waste management and citizens' role in taking care of the environment. 

Coming in all the way from North Bangalore was Mr. Samuel John, who provided an exceptional presentation with snaps on various life forms at the lake. His underwater video and the hunting sequence he had captured of one spider fooling and eating another spider were simply wonderful. He enlightened us about the important role played by each and every tiny organism present. How they all help in maintaining a rich ecosystem at the lake.

This remarkable presentation was followed by another showstopper - a vocal recital by National award winning singer Ms. Bindhumalini. Her melodious voice left everyone stunned, especially those, like me, who had shut their eyes in the dim room. I was transported into a peaceful world.

The event concluded with a vote of thanks by Ms. Sahana, who gifted the three special guests a sapling each. What a great start to Environment Day !!

- Nishka Jain, Student, 16 years

World Environment Day of 2022 and PNLIT's 12th anniversary were celebrated on 5th June 2022 in collaboration with PNLIT, IME and KSLSA. The event started on time with a welcome speech by Sapana, a PNLIT volunteer, followed by a presentation on how the lake has evolved over the last 12 years.

Usha Rajagopalan, the Chairperson of PNLIT took the audience through the journey of PNLIT since its inception till date including the ups and downs faced by the team. She shared how the issues have been handled and the lake brought back to life after 2 years of struggling with the sewage inflow. The audience consisted mainly of the donors, well-wishers of PNLIT and the neighborhood residents.

Usha's address was followed by a very thoughtful speech by Smt. Kaveri, Deputy Secretary, KSLSA. The importance of celebrating World Environment Day and this year's theme on One Earth with the tagline of 'living sustainably in harmony with nature' were beautifully articulated by her. She also pointed out our responsibility as citizens towards reducing and managing waste that we generate.

The next part of the event was a presentation by Samuel John, co-founder of social enterprise called "Spiders and the Sea". The presentation took us all to another world at the lake that we may not have observed both inside and outside the water body. He emphasized on the importance of each living organism of the lake and how they all are interdependent to complete the cycle of life. Right from the tiniest ant to algae to kites and fish, all forms of the ecosystem of our beautiful Puttenahalli lake came to life right in front of us through the pictures and videos captured with great efforts by Samuel John.

The perfect finale of the day's event was the soulful singing by Ms. Bindumalini Narayanaswamy. It was very thoughtful of her to have the lights switched off so the music could help the audience look inwards and spend a few moments to organise the thoughts and allow them to flow seamlessly. The choice of songs from Kabir's song about water to the shlokas from Vishnu purana, all blended beautifully to the theme and were delivered flawlessly through her captivating voice. The audience were mesmerized with her performance.

The event ended with a vote of thanks by Ms. Sahana, Head of Curation, IME. 

Overall, time well spent on a Sunday morning celebrating World Environment day and PNLIT's 12th anniversary.

- Nandhini Sriraaman, PNLIT Trustee

Picture credits - Nupur Jain, Aditi Mahesh

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Join us in celebrating World Environment Day and 12 years of PNLIT

We're happy to invite you for World Environment Day celebration on Sunday, 5th June, 2022. This event is being held jointly with the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA), and Indian Music Experience (India's first interactive music museum). The programme will begin at 11 a.m. at the IME auditorium in Brigade Millennium, JP Nagar 7th Phase, Bangalore 560078.

As our well-wisher, you will be happy to know that we will also be celebrating the 12th year of PNLIT (on 11th June 2022). Twelve years of taking care of Puttenahalli Puttakere! 

This double celebration has a distinguished, exciting panel which includes: 

Mr. Shashidhara Shetty, Hon'ble Member-Secretary, KSLSA, who leads the activities of legal services institutions in the State. 

Mr. Samuel John, a nature (read 'spider') lover and underwater photographer who visited our Puttakere last year and can't keep himself from coming and shooting, on land, under water! You can therefore expect a unique video presentation. 

Our Chairperson, Usha Rajagopalan, will highlight the past, the present and the future of Puttenahalli Lake in a brief talk. 

The finale - a musical tribute to nature by Bindhumalini Narayanaswamy, the National award winning singer and composer. 

So, folks, welcome, welcome, welcome! Mark the date and time on your calendar: 

Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Venue: IME auditorium, Brigade Millennium, JP Nagar 7th Phase, Bangalore 560078
Day: Sunday, 5th June, 2022
This event is free and open to everyone
Do please join us for refreshments from 10:30 a.m. 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Making everyday, Earth Day

The first time we celebrated Earth Day was in 2010, to publicize the revival of our Puttakere among  residents in the area. At that point, we had no idea that we were in for a long haul. 

Earth Day 2010
Earth Day 2010 at South City Apartments, Bangalore (Pic: Ashok Das)

In fact, even when we registered PNLIT in June that year, we did so to assist BBMP and ensure that the lake doesn't relapse. Signing an agreement with them in May 2011 and becoming official custodians of the lake meant no turning, or looking, back for us, trustees. Since then, the lake, and we, have come a long way. 

Birds at lake
A serene morning at the lake, Apr 2022 (Pic: Nithya)

Folk concert at lake
Folk concert at the lake on 24th Apr 2022 (Pic: Nupur Jain)

Thanks to all who have been a part of this wonderful journey. We look forward to your continued support. Here is a glimpse of life at the lake this April 2022, but there's nothing like visiting it and seeing the wonders for yourself!

Removing litter from the water Apr 2022
Removing litter from the water (Pic: Nupur Jain)

Juvenile Great Cormorant (Pic: Madhurima Das)

Spot-billed Duck family
Spot-billed Duck family (Pic: Jayashree Govind)

Bees on flower
Water lilies abuzz with bees (Pic: Jayashree Govind)

Nesting box
Nesting box in water (Pic: Nupur Jain)

Nesting box occupied by squirrel
Nesting box occupied by squirrel (Pic: Ramu) 

It does indeed take a community to protect and nurture not just a lake but all natural resources. Wherever we are, let's do our bit to make the world a better place for our children to grow and flourish. Let them not have to fight the battles that we should have fought to make life on earth easier, cleaner, greener. 

Let's celebrate each day as Earth Day! 

Greetings to all. 
PNLIT team

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Upcoming evening of folk music

IME and PNLIT invite you to a mesmerizing evening of music at Puttenahalli Lake, where reputed international folk singer Savithakka will treat us to a selection of stirring Kannada folk ditties in her signature earthy voice, against the backdrop of the lake’s calming waters and the setting sun.

Savithakka will be accompanied by keyboardist and harmonium player Sri Ganesh Prasad and tabla player Sri Puttaraju Gonahalu.

Folk music Savithakka

Date: Sunday, 24th April 2022
Time: 4.30 p.m.
Venue: Puttenahalli Lake
Free walk in event with no registration needed.
All are welcome!

Folklore concert

About Savithakka

Born in Bengaluru Savithakka started learning at a tender age under the tutelage of her mother, a well-known singer smt. Neelambike. Savitha further honed her talents by training with senior mentors in the field of classical music, including Carnatic vocalist Ratna Shivashankar, and Hindustani vocalists Pandit. V. M. Nagaraj and Pandit. Dattatreya Joshi. She furthered her training in Sugama Sangeetha under the guidance of Sri M S Kamath and acclaimed music composer and sought-after mandolin master Sri N. S. Prasad.

Realizing the uniqueness in her voice, a base tonal quality that sets her apart from other singers, Savithakka began to carve a niche for herself by rendering folk music, Tatva pada, Bhakti Geete, Bhava Geete, in her own unique style.

As a folk singer, she has received recognition from All India Radio & Doordarshan. She has rendered her voice to the popular music album `Sharanu Janapada’ produced by lahari group, featuring authentic Kannada folk songs. Savithakka has sung for over 100 audio cassettes. As a contestant on the popular reality show, Kannada Kogile, she won the hearts of Kannadigas.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Upcoming Nature Walk by the Indian Music Experience (IME) on 23-April-2022

 A walk in nature makes us admire the creation and often arouses our curiosity. Let us understand and uncover the etymology of bird names in a scientific yet different way by walking in and around Puttenahalli Lake.

This nature walk will raise questions and encourage healthy conversation that will increase our knowledge about birds from a larger perspective.

Date: 23rd April
Timings: 4:30pm
Fee: INR 150

Kindly register early as limited seats are available.

Friday, April 8, 2022

'Birds and Cities' a webinar series by IME

The Indian Music Experience (IME) Museum is presenting ‘Birdsong,’ their annual exhibition from April 1, 2022 onwards for the next 4 months.

We are happy to share that PNLIT is one of the partners in this exhibition. Watch out this space for interesting events we are planning with IME at the lake.

Meanwhile, this Saturday do listen to Garima Bhatia , a well-known birder and photographer based in Bangalore in the new webinar series titled 'Birds and Cities'.

Event Details :

Birds are everywhere, in every habitat imaginable, but more importantly they are also present in our cities and around our homes, enriching our lives with their beautiful colours and enchanting songs.
'Birds and Cities' is a new webinar series by the Indian Music Experience Museum designed to take a closer look at the lives of our avian neighbours.
For the first session Garima Bhatia (birder, photographer and head of Early Bird) will introduce us to the beauty of birds that exist outside our balconies! This audio-visual experience is brought to you in partnership with Early Bird
Date: 9th April 2022
Timings: 10:30 am
Platform: Zoom