Puttenahalli Lake in JP Nagar 7th Phase celebrated Ganesha Chaturthi this year sans the problems faced by most of the other lakes in Bangalore.

Ganesha Chaturthi = colourful Ganeshas + flowers + immersion in water bodies

Immersion in a big drum on the bund of Puttenahalli Lake Pic: Usha Rajagopalan

Sankey Tank in Malleshwaram was the immersion ground for more than 50,000/- Ganeshas of varying sizes (according to local police figures). The festivity here also contributed a few lorry-loads of rotting flowers and leaves that were sent to landfills (according to local resident observations). 

Puttenahalli Lake, unlike Sankey Tank is a very small lake. And unlike Sankey Tank, the lake was not included in BBMP's list of designated immersion points this year. 'Idol immersion' is clearly mentioned in the list of prohibitions at Puttenahalli Lake, but despite this, it was expected that residents of the neighbourhood would come with their Ganeshas, for want of any other convenient site.

And come they did! But Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust (PNLIT), which is maintaining the lake was prepared.

People were informed that immersion inside the lake was not permitted by the BBMP and instead they were offered a big water drum on the lake bund to put their Ganeshas in. Prohibitions apart, the lake fencing with its sharp spikes is also a deterrent - climbing over it can prove to be quite a challenge. So the devotees of the area were most co-operative and over the three-four days, about 30-odd Ganeshas were thus immersed in our water drum. Flowers and other organic material went into our compost pile to become one with the earth in a few weeks time.

Research conducted at Hussainsagar Lake in Hyderabad (by Vikram Reddy and Vijay Kumar, published in Current Science, Dec 2001) has indicated that the immersion of painted idols results in a significant change in the content of the lake water. The concentration levels of substances like calcium, magnesium, molybdenum and silicon increase above the desirable. The presence of toxic heavy metals like arsenic, lead and mercury also cross the permissible limits after idol immersion. In aquatic environments, heavy metals like these persist and their effect accumulates and magnifies as they move up the food chain. So the fish, birds and other creatures that we rejoice seeing at Puttenahalli Lake would surely get affected. Not to mention us, humans, through food and groundwater.

With this knowledge, we are so glad that the aquatic and avian life at Puttenahalli Lake has been spared this time around.While Puttenahalli Lake is no comparison to Sankey Tank, in terms of age, lake size and Ganesha numbers, we really hope that the Sankey experience next year is as nice as what it was at Puttenahalli!