While rejuvenating our Puttenahalli lake in 2010, BBMP had provided five inlets for rainwater to enter and one waste weir for the excess to flow out. Of the five inlets, one was at the entrance, another further down, roughly midway to where the white silk cotton tree now towers over the walking track like a young giant. Two were on the adjacent revetment, next to each other in the wetland and the fifth, just beyond the rock bund.
When the rain began, only the two in the wetland worked. They had to because of the location – the low-lying land outside South City apartment complex. Water gushed inside like fury unleashed and yet, the area outside the lake remained flooded and water even entered a few houses that were lower still. Those residents were to corner BBMP officials and get another set of two pipes laid in early 2011. This may not have been necessary if the fifth inlet had worked. Unfortunately, this one was destined to remain dry because the ground at the other end of the pipe was not only lower but also sloped away.
The lake getting a makeover had stirred a great deal of interest in the neighbourhood and everyone wanted to see it rippling with water, filled to the brim. Obviously, this was not going to happen immediately. June to October is the season for the South West monsoon in Bengaluru. The first four months had the water level fluctuating from shallow to almost dry.
A lake could be called a lake only if it had water for most of the year. However, as the monsoon progressed, it seemed as if our Puttenahalli Puttakere would be covered not with water but only with weeds and more weeds. We took to gazing at the sky for dark clouds and at our favourite level markers, a stone jutting out in the middle of the basin or the stump of a tree. If any of these got submerged, we were filled with delight. Alas! It took only a day or two of bright sunshine to bring the markers to the surface.
And then, in the first week of October 2010 the miracle happened. The inlet near the entrance which had remained obstinately dry turned into a mini waterfall! The water which poured into the lake from the coconut grove next door (now a convention centre) was tinged orange with the top soil but it was still a gorgeous sight.
Coconut trees need several gallons of water every day in order to bear fruit but these were at the risk of rotting due to excess water. The owner dug a trench which meandered around the base of the palms and ended in the inlet pipe. It was a win-win situation for both of us. His trees survived and so did our lake … in its first year!