The Weekend Leader - Saving a lake

Local resident helps rejuvenate Puttenahalli lake in Bangalore

Marianne de Nazareth   |   Bangalore


Vol 2 | Issue 5

One of the many local crusaders, who have ensured that Bangalore retains its charm without disintegrating into a pile of garbage and dust, is 40-year-old Arathi Manay. But for the determination of the managing trustee of the Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust (PNLIT), the lake, situated between the Brigade Millennium and South City apartment blocks in JP Nagar, would have been lost and turned into a pile of debris.

“When we came to live here the whole lake had been dried out with debris and encroached by slum dwellers,” reveals Arathi. “It would have become a road and so a group of us from South City led by Usha Rajagopalan got together to put the lake onto the government list of lakes to be rejuvenated in Bangalore. Since nothing works unless there is a registered body, we formed the Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust (PNLIT) in June 2010 after which the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike or Bangalore City Corporation) began to interact with us,” says Arathi, who believes in a strong partnership between the government and local residents.

The inspection of the lake was done by Chairman of the Task Force for Protection of Government Lands, V Balasubramanian, who was accompanied by officials from the Bangalore Corporation.

Citizen power:  In restoring the Puttenahalli lake, Arathi Manay has shown what concerned citizens can achieve if only they join hands 

Thereafter, the lake area was cleaned up and excavators were used to clear the debris. The soil excavated from the lake bed was humped around the lake to form a bund, which now serves as a walk way. “The BBMP is very happy that we have taken personal interest in the project and are regulating the work going on and keeping them informed. Phase I of the restoration work is over and Phase 2 is yet to start. The level of water that has crept in at present is very low as all the inlets have not been opened. Once the inlets are all opened and we go through at least 3-4 monsoons, the water levels will definitely come up,” she says.

The only tree that was left in the area according to Arathi was a single date palm. All the other trees had been cut down and the area was barren. “So before the monsoons came we planted our first round of 150 saplings which were given to us by the BBMP. Prasanna, an avid bird watcher, researched as to which trees would bring back the bird population along with Subramanya from the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, and Bhoodha Shetty from the Forest Department. The first tree planting was done in July last year and we put down, Cannon balls, Arjuna, Kadamba and Sampige trees. On the viewing deck we planted only a single Peepul tree which is growing well. We also planted shorter varieties of trees under the electric poles.”

It is a hard job to keep the slum dwellers from fishing in the lake and killing the birds that have begun to flock again, reveals Arathi. But she is happy that Satish the Chief Engineer of the BBMP is so encouraging and is pushing forward to the next phase, which is the relocation of the slum dwellers.

Residents of the surrounding buildings come for walks around the lake now. Along with a gardener and a sweeper, who are employed with donations from the residents of the area, Arathi keeps the garden clean and green.

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