Residents of L&T South City and Brigade Millenium in JP Nagar, Bangalore formed a citizen initiative to save the neighbouring Puttenahalli Lake from becoming a dumping ground for construction debris and waste. A team from India Water Portal visited the lake in June 2011 to see the progress and challenges faced by such citizen initiatives.
Led by Usha Rajagopalan, Arathi Manay and a few other concerned home owners, the Puttenahalli Lake Improvement Trust (PNLIT) was set up to oversee the restoration of Puttenahalli Lake. They have worked tirelessly to shed light on their work, even getting the media to cover their story. The residents have worked closely with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to restore Puttenahalli Lake. In fact, the BBMP took over the restoration of the lake as part of their recent initiative to save Bangalore's lakes, spending approximately Rs. 1.8 lakhs to get it to what it is today.
The PNLIT has its own website that provides comprehensive updates on the progress of the lake's restoration, as well as other initiatives they have spearheaded such as composting, recycling, raising funds and even organising a nature club with other residents of L&T South City and Brigade Millennium.
The day we met Usha and Arathi, the home owners of L&T South City were protesting outside the front gate of the complex. It turned out that L&T had arbitrarily handed over the road running through development to the authorities to widen it, which essentially meant the road would become a thoroughfare for heavy traffic. The home owners of L&T South City were not consulted or even warned that this was happening, and woke up one morning to find bulldozers outside their front gate.
One of Usha's first statements to us at our meeting was, "Don't ever buy an apartment from a big developer in Bangalore." The background to this was the number of untruths they had been told in the name of buying an apartment in a luxury residential compound, only to be faced with one unfair fight after the other. They were clearly fed up, but not willing to give up.
We will continue to cover the progress of Puttenahalli Lake, and hope to see more of such initiatives, not just in Bangalore but all over the country. Power can only be in the hands of the people if they are dedicated enough to channel it in the right way, and Puttenahalli Lake is a shining example of this.
Contact the Puttenahalli Lake Improvement Trust for more details:
Usha Rajagopalan: firstname.lastname@example.org
Arathi Manay Yajaman: email@example.com