Wrapping Up The Year at Puttenahalli Lake

Yet again this year, Puttenahalli Puttakere taught us the importance of perseverance and the need to stay hopeful. When it seemed as if our ‘trial by sewage’ which had begun in 2017 would never end, BWSSB came through in April 2021 and plugged the leaks in the underground drain they had laid last year. The lake, as of now, is free of sewage. We pray that it stays this way!

Monsoon 2021. It seemed as if the southwest monsoon merged with the northeast and the rain would simply not cease. On the one hand, we wanted dry days that would allow BBMP to complete the lake cleaning, strengthening the bund, relaying the track, etc. On the other, we were delighted that the the sewage residue was getting diluted. However, the surface runoff had also brought in new invasive weeds. We’d battled with Salvinia molesta and realized that the pesky alligator weed had its uses. We now had to get rid of submerged weeds (Chara sp and Ottelia alismoides), emergent ones (water lily) as also the pervasive water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and others. Since birds need vegetation patches to shelter, nest and forage, we needed to leave enough for them. 

Photos taken in June and July by PNLIT Trustee Nupur Jain and Ramu, our gardener

In July and August, BBMP’s workers along with our four gardeners were engaged in this but they had few sunny days and the weeds grew quickly. Nevertheless, the lake had rippling water which gradually but steadily became a bed of green by November. 

Photo: Madhurima Das, 24 Dec 2021

Since the last one week, we have resumed clearing the water again. The almost immediate sighting of the Common Kingfisher is encouraging since it is found only where the water is clear.  We will control the weed growth even though the monsoon may bring in more next year.

Common Kingfisher (Satishchandra Karanth)

This confidence doesn’t extend to knowing if the BBMP will renew our MoU  in the new year or if the authorities will take action to protect the lake premises from the encroachers at least in 2022. Both matters are sub-judice. 


Following BBMP’s guidelines, the lake was closed for several months in 2020 due to the pandemic. This year it remained out of bounds for longer due to the repair work that seemed to go on and on.

Photos: Nupur Jain, Ramu

We are happy to tell you that from Wed, 22nd Dec., the lake has become accessible to the public once again. Timings are 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Visitors, especially bird watchers, naturalists and photographers, have a treat in store. 

Grey heron and cormorants (Ramu)

With footfall reducing, the lake has turned into a nursery. In this video Raji Hari has caught the Little grebe building a shelter with weeds for its young ones waiting patiently nearby. Chicks swimming with their parents is a common sight but we were taken aback to see five little black blobs on the walking track on 22nd Oct. Sunning themselves in the open were the chicks of the White-breasted Waterhen. And to think that the adult birds scuttle away at the sight of humans! 

White-breasted waterhen chicks (Ramu)
This report with some of the photographs first appeared in our Puttenahalli Lake blog, PLOG, on 24/12/2021: https://bit.ly/3svdnx7.

Our lake and its denizens seem to have had a better year than humans already overwhelmed by the pandemic having to face a new variant and strains of the virus that caused COVID-19. We need to get the better of these and bring normalcy back into our lives. My hopes and prayers are best expressed in this poem by the Tamil poet, Subramania Bharati. This year happens to be death centenary of the poet.

Aspirations*

(Manadhil urudhi veyndum by Subramania Bharati)

May our minds be firm, speech pleasant and thoughts pure.
May we grasp the attainable, our dreams come true,
Quickly may we reap the fruit of our effort.
May we earn wealth and joy, fame on earth.
May our eyes open, steady be our labour.
May our women be unfettered. Our fertile land,
A heaven on earth. May Truth prevail.
May the mighty God guard us all.
Om …. Om …. Om …. Om …

***

*Source: my book Selected Poems of Subramania Bharati





Greetings to all for the new year.

Published by Usha Rajagopalan ("Lakeika")

I am a writer, translator and lake conservationist based in Bengaluru, India.

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