Synopsis of Activities:
Nurturing the lake and its surroundings.
Developing the lake as a focal point of promoting environment awareness
Encouraging and activating the local community to participate in nurturing the lake.
Funding sources: Donations from the neighbourhood residents; CSR grants for projects.
To protect and improve the lake, we interact with several departments such as:
Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (Lakes Department): Our association began in 2009 largely because of the willingness of the then Chief Engineer, Mr. B V Satish to listen to us, residents, and accept our suggestions. He was instrumental in making us official custodians of the lake by signing a joint agreement. The transformation of the lake and our commitment convinced officials who succeeded him to accept us as citizen caretakers of the iconic Puttenahalli Puttakere. To acknowledge such a unique partnership based on mutual trust and respect between a citizen group and a government body, we nominated BBMP for Earth Day Network’s Star Municipal Leadership Award in 2021. The award was received by the then Chief Commissioner, BBMP.
Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) for sewage related issues.
Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB). To escalate sewage related issues and to obtain permission to feed the lake with treated water from the Sewage Treatment Plant at South City apartment complex.
Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Ltd. (BESCOM). To get the tariff revised from commercial to non-commercial since the lake which we are maintaining on behalf of the BBMP for the benefit of the public.
Department of Fisheries, Government of Karnataka (Fisheries). To exempt Puttenahalli Puttakere from commercial fishing so that it may be developed as a secure avian habitat.
Deputy Commissioner, Bangalore Urban District (DC, Bangalore Urban). With regard to providing alternate housing and rehabilitating the slum dwellers.
Karnataka Slum Development Board (KSDB). With regard to providing alternate housing and rehabilitating the slum dwellers.
Liaise with the government.
Engage the Community
Our approach and activities are people-centric and inclusive. Our very first public event was a tree plantation drive in July 2010 in which we involved children from the slum as well. Our goal is to bring people of different interests to visit the lake and become involved in its welfare. Therefore, we conduct regular and diverse activities at the lake premises which are mostly free to the public. We have held events such as weekend gardening, bioblitz, citizen science events, nature journaling, bird walk, workshops in photography, story telling, theatre, clay modelling, origami, mime, book launches and discussions.
Fundraiser events: Carnatic vocal concert by Padma Bhushan Sudha Ragunathan in 2017 and a play, Doosra: The Story of Cricket in 2013. We foster residents’ interest with holding events at the lake and keeping them informed through email updates, bi-annual newsletter, Ripples, and through social media.
Increasing greenery & Biodiversity
Where there was a single wild date palm on the island in 2010, there are now nearly 500 trees, countless shrubs and climbers around the periphery of the lake.
These have been planted by residents in the area during plantation drives, by individuals to celebrate a special day or to commemorate a loved one.
Most of the species are native, medicinal and/or those that will attract birds and insects.
At the south west side of the lake, it was not possible to plant trees so with CSR funds we installed a pergola that has lovely climbers cascading down.
Handling water: Filling the Lake
After rejuvenation the lake did not fill up fully during the first monsoon. We got a Total Station Survey done (a CSR project) in May 2012 and got BBMP to harvest surface runoff from the adjacent Brigade Millennium Avenue into the lake.
When this too proved insufficient to fill the 10-acre waterbody, we obtained permission from KSPCB to fill the lake with tertiary treated water from South City STP to the lake. We signed a tripartite agreement with BBMP and South City Owners association in May 2015.
Puttenahalli Lake overflowed for the first time since rejuvenation on 27 July 2016.
Purifying the Water
In order to purify the lake water, in June 2016 we introduced Artificial Floating Islands for the first time in a city lake. These are platforms bearing biofilter plant species which purify the water by absorbing nutrients from the water. To assess the impact of this water purification method, we simultaneously began monthly testing and analysis of water samples first at the BMS College of Engineering and subsequently with an accredited private laboratory.
We shared the experience with other lake groups and on 24 Aug. 2017, demonstrated the making and using of AFI on the invitation of the Karnataka Forest Dept and Karnataka Lake Conservation Development Authority. They made this the theme for World Water Day, 2019 in Madiwala lake. AFIs are now used in lakes such as Agara, Kempambudi, Hebbagodi, and Maregondanahalli.
To offset the impact of sewage which trickled occasionally into the lake, we installed an aerator fountain in April 2019.
Stopping sewage influx
From March 2018, sewage entered from the adjoining Nataraja residential layout and led to a massive fish kill over the next few days. Subsequently, the underground drain (UGD) would often get blocked, displacing the manhole cover of the chamber. Raw sewage would enter the rainwater drain and into the lake. Each time this happened we would contact the local ward office of the BWSSB who would clear the blockage in the UGD. When the problem became recurrent and severe we escalated the matter with the Chairman, BWSSB, KSPCB, and then to the NGT Committee meeting chaired by Justice Santosh Hegde. With BWSSB replacing the UGD, sewage finally stopped entering the lake.
Protecting the lake from Encroachment
Our endeavour to rehabilitate the slum dwellers elsewhere and improve their quality of life began in 2009. In 2015, we managed to get alternate housing for them which, however, they rejected because they wanted individual plots of land. They filed a writ WP 5073/2015 in the Karnataka High Court. Order in this was passed on 07/03/2019. With the authorities procrastinating, we filed WP 4964/2021 on 06/03/2021 seeking to protect the lake from the encroachers. On 19/07/2021, the slum dwellers filed a Contempt Petition against the authorities which the High Court dropped on 08/09/2021. The High Court passed an order on our writ directing the BBMP to “take steps for removal of encroachment on Puttenahalli Lake and to submit a compliance report.” Before the BBMP could act, the slum dwellers immediately filed WP 20300/2022 and obtained a stay on their relocation.