Monthly Archives: March 2013

13 year old Inventor Cracks Secret of Trees to Collect Solar Power


Watch the Video link below…

13 year old Inventor Cracks Secret of Trees to Collect Solar Power

What do trees know that we don’t? 13-year-old inventor Aidan Dwyer realized that trees use a mathematical formula to gather sunlight in crowded forests. Then he wondered why we don’t collect solar energy in the same way.

RACF will be moving the Bicycles from ZED campus to IISc.

Namma Cycle left the year 2012 with over 3000 trips covering 4500 km. In the process, it prevented a tonne of CO2 emissions because 300 liters of petrol were not used, saving about 25,000 rupees.


Though the user base is quite small at the moment since over 2000 residents use their own cycles, the number of trips has seen an increasing trend as the concept of SHARING is catching on. 60% of all the trips were completed WITHIN 30 MINUTES, 40% of all trips were ENJOYED FOR FREE as members do not pay for the first half hour.

Our user base ranged from 14 year old students from near by schools who came to IISc for tuitions, to IISc veterans visiting IISc again along with the next generation of students. People used cycles not just to reach from one end of the campus to another, but made it a part of their exercise and also celebrations!

We had our share of excitement and celebrations as we went from one milestone to another. Shamala, a cyclist and “namma volunteer” has beautifully documented our journey so far in this article on Citizen Matters.


userssayIn 2013, we hope to cover more miles and reach new milestones with continued support from the community.

Bangalore celebrates World Water Day 2013 on 22-23 March

n 22-23 March 2013, Bangalore will celebrate World Water Day like never before – with an explosion of events all over the city. We invite you to visit homes and workplaces that have harvested rainwater, treated their sewage, and acted as water stewards. From lakes to apartment complexes to corporate offices, people from each part of Bangalore will open their doors for you. Join us!

Friday, March 22
6:30-9pm at the Max Mueller Bhavan in Indiranagar (more information)

Join us for Water Matters, a photo exhibition and panel discussion on Bangalore’s water issues. Panelists include:

  • Rohini Nilekani (Arghyam)
  • S. Vishwanath (Zen Rainman)
  • Sekar Raghavan (Chennai Rain Centre)
  • Usha Rajagopalan (Puttenahalli Lake Neighborhood Improvement Trust)
Saturday, March 23
6:30am-5pm, all over Bangalore (more information)
Lake Diaries (6:30-9am)
Professional photography workshops at lakes across the city

  • Arekere Lake
  • Doraikere Lake
  • Halagevadera Halli Lake
  • Kaggadasapura Lake
  • Lalbagh Lake
  • Somasundara Palya Lake
  • Varthur Lake
Walk in the Park (11am-5pm)
Guided tours and demos of water-saving parks
  • Sir Visvesvaraya Rain Water Harvesting Theme Park (Jayanagar)
  • Water and Waste Water Theme Park (Yelehanka)
  • Cubbon Park
Savings on the House (10am-12pm)
Rainwater harvesting and sewage treatment open houses at apartments and homes

  • Balaji Pristine (Whitefield)
  • Brigade Millennium (J.P. Nagar VI Phase)
  • Embassy Tranquil (Koramangala)
  • Ferns Paradise (Doddanekundi)
  • Ittina Abby Apartments (L B Shastry Nagar)
  • Kalpatharu Apartments (L B Shastry Nagar)
  • Kristal Citrine (Krishnarajapura)
  • Pavani Prestige (Marathahalli)
  • Prestige Aster (Langford Town)
  • Raindrops Apartments (Sarjapur)
  • Zed Earth (Yelehanka)
  • G.V. Dasrathi (Sadashivnagar)
  • Pethachi (Bannerghatta Road)

Trying to de-construct the mysteries of Nature has taken us away from experiencing the wonder …

Trying to de-construct the mysteries of Nature has taken us away from experiencing the wonder …

Watch the video…

Sparrows Indicate Environmental Well-Being, Their Absence Worrying

1Bangalore: They may be small but their presence makes a big impact. Sparrows are an indicator of the environmental health of an area, say experts. And their disappearance can be linked to increase in infectious diseases and ecological changes, they warn.
These chirpy little birds have been edged out of Bangalore homes, thanks to changes in architecture and agriculture. But the city needs them. “Sensitive to environmental changes, sparrows are an important bio-indicator for a healthy urban ecosystem and reflect its decline today,’’ says SC

Joshi, director of Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Malleswaram. Found near human habitats, they serve as an important prey for the bigger birds. As chicks, house sparrows eat insects from gardens. This helps in less usage of pesticides. They make nests using household garbage-strings, papers, cotton piece etc. “They are controller of insects in the eco-system, which in turn helps save vast farmland stretches. With even villagers cutting down on use of natural products to build homes, sparrows are disappearing from all landscapes,” said sparrow crusader Mohammed Esmail Dilawar, president of Nature Forever Society, Nashik.

Sparrows were included by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in its Red Data List of threatened species in 2002, alongside snow leopards, tigers and red pandas. “We need sparrows for our future generation to at least see them,” said ornithologist MB Krishna.

Our hearts beat 72 times a minute, that of a sparrow beats 460 times
India is home to four different species of sparrow — house sparrow, yellowthroated sparrow, Spanish and Eurasian tree sparrow
Sparrows are doting parents. They love building quaint untidy nests in crevices of buildings and rotting tree trunks
Place the nest in a shade — under a tree, below a balcony or in a verandah. Hang the nest at a higher altitude. Place a bowl of water in the ground along with some millets. Make sure you change the water regularly and provide constant supply of millets near the nest.


On World Sparrow Day, we take a look at some Bangaloreans who are doing their bit to get the chirps back.   Shivakumaraswamy JP, resident of Bannerghatta Road, placed two nests at his place a year ago. “My mother is most excited to see sparrows return home. For my twin sons they are just another bird. We got home the nests to make sure all three generations enjoy watching the antics of this lovely bird,” says Shivakumaraswamy, director and co-founder of an engineering company.
A resident of Yelahanka New Town, Umapathi BK, who works in ITPL, spotted some sparrows after he got home two nests. His wife Devaki attends to them. “Our objective is to distribute 50,000 nests to Bangaloreans. People come in huge numbers to our place and buy nests,” said Chandrashekar Hariharan, co-chairman of Biodiversity Conservation India (ZED Foundation).
Octogenarian Muniamma alias Gubbajji, resident of Old Airport Road, has 15 sparrow nests in her home. Keen on getting the birdies back, she placed these nests over a period of 40 years. The Bangalore mayor will meet her on World Sparrow Day.

Bringing back the sparrow back to city

sparrows_1_2048x1660 (2)Bringing the sparrow back to City

Bangalore, once a favourite habitat of sparrows, has virtually seen an exodus of the tiny birds from the City — so much so that we now have to have a day to remember them. Today is World Sparrow Day.

While there are initiatives in place to protect and save tigers, elephants and other animals, not much has been done to protect sparrows. “The number of sparrows has gone down considerably and to see one now is rare,” said Chandrashekhar Hariharan, chairman of the Zero Energy Development (ZED) group.

He explained that it is important to save the remaining birds and also make people aware of the problem. “Bangalore was once renowned for 68 species of birds, but over the years most of them have lost their habitat. Sparrows are the most vulnerable because they feed on seeding grass which has become reduced. Also, sparrows are a species which are reluctant to adapt to new habitats — leaving them vulnerable to changing environmental conditions,” he added.

To create more awareness among Bangaloreans, Hariharan started various programmes such providing sparrow nests for the public to take home. He has also started a seed planting initiative. “In the last two years, we have distributed over 49,400 nests to the public. These nests have been designed like the original nests of sparrows to encourage the birds to roost there,” he said, but added that the nests needed further development.

“Of all the nests that we have distributed, only two per cent of them have had sparrows make it their home.”

While talking about other initiatives, Hariharan said schoolchildren play an important part in their campaign. “We started a Million Seedballs programme in the City schools, wherein we invited schoolchildren to come and sow a seed. We chose 26 species of trees like rain tree and gulmohar, that are endemic to the Bangalore plateau. The schoolchildren had to sow the seeds of these trees. The idea behind this was certain types of trees or plants attract sparrows,” he said.

While this drive has been taken up in various locations in the City, Hariharan said that they have attempted to take the drive to other parts of the State too. “We had a bunch of children who planted the seeds near Chintamani in Chikkaballapur district,” he said.

Sparrows play an important role in our ecosystem and their disappearance is not a good sign. While schools and some residents’ groups have come forward to help, Hariharan also requests the corporate world to particpate. “The companies can have this as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility. It is a small step towards a great cause,” he said.

Catch Every Drop Bengaluru

catcheverydrop_watertankerBangalore is fast running out of water. There is no source today that can address the 1.3 billion litres of water that we need every day. Not the Cauvery river that is 100 kms away and provides for less than 50% of the population’s water needs. Not the private tankers that are scourging for water inside 4 lakhs borewells that go deeper and deeper everytime. Not the much exploited groundwater that was once recharged by 262 lakes and tanks that have now mostly vanished. If forecasts go right, at the current consumption rate, we have about 2 months of water supply left in the city.The upcoming monsoon is our one chance to make sure the near future and after isn’t dry.

This World Water Day, 22nd and 23rd of March, we invite you to engage with water and how to save it – in your home, office, apartment and across the city.
March 22, 2013, Max Mueller Bhavan, Indiranagar, 6 pm – 9 pm
Water Matters: An interactive panel discussion featuring water experts – 1.3 billion litres/day in a drying city, where do we go from here?
with Rohini Nilekani, Vishwanath Srikantaiah, Sekhar Raghavan and Usha Rajagopalan
What water means to me: A photo exhibition curated by Korkai, shot by citizens across India, through the Worth of Water online contest.

March 23, 2013, across the city
Savings on the house: Open Houses with water champions in homes and apartments across the city that have implemented model water conservation measures.
The Lake Diaries: Photo walks along lakes in the city, led by professional photographers
Walk in the park: Guided tours and demos in the Rain Water Harvesting theme park, Cubbon Park and the Waste  Water Treatment Theme Park.
Come engage to save, harvest, recycle and refresh water in the city.
Log on to for everything that’s happening on 22nd and 23rd of March, plus tons of water conservation tips, ideas, success stories, expert insights and more!

Catch Every Drop is a campaign on water conservation in Bengaluru, run by The Alternative, a media platform for sustainable living, sponsored by Arghyam, with partners India Water Portal and Biome Environmental Solutions.

Cities within cities

While the concept of integrated townships is being touted as the next big thing in the realty sector, there is the flip side, that of long gestation periods for these projects to take off, and reluctance on the part of people to move to an isolated location, writes Bindu Gopal Rao

citiesImagine a day when you would be able to walk to work. Although this sounds like an unbelievable proposition on the face of it, integrated townships could hold the key to this solution. An integrated township is a large scale and self-sufficient space that houses apartment complexes, office space and is a hub of commercial activity including schools, hospital, shopping and entertainment centres. The RBI has recently decided to allow real estate companies to access ECBs till December 31, 2010 for integrated townships.

The concept
Bangalore is seeing several projects in various stages of completion. Mist Valley by Concorde Group on Sarjapur Road, Lavisa Planet by Lakvinsar Group, (under BMRDA, Chikballapur Town Development Authority), DLF’s two integrated townships on Hosur Road and Bannerghatta Road spread over 100 acres plus, Patel Realty’s Neotown, in Electronic city phase-I spread over 120 acres and El Dorado Park by Alliance Group spread over 275 acres, located close to Electronic City that houses commercial campuses for leading IT and Biotech companies offers an 18-hole Executive Golf Course, a 5-star hotel, a mall with a four-screen multiplex and a large playground and parks.

Walk-to-work concept
“Ceylinco Shriram will invest approximately Rs 120 crore for an integrated township on 100 acres of land along the Old Madras Road. Leading developers like Shobha and Adarsh Group too are holding large tracks of land on the Outer Ring Road/Sarjapur for such developments. In principle, the concept of integrated township would be a community living platform where the concept of walk-to-work can be implemented, everything that the end-user needs is available in close proximity from their place of living,” says Naresh Dandapat, Regional Head (South) – Knight Frank India. Hiranandani Upscale has launched ‘The Villas’ – a highly accessible yet serene and tranquil township.

Harinder Dhillon, VP, Marketing, Raheja Developers Limited adds, “You could call these townships cities within cities. Integrated township, as the name suggests, is a self-sustained township with many real estate developments including residential, commercial, retail and institutional, as well as industrial areas in some cases.” The township is also being seen as a model for creating ecological spaces.

“BCIL’s Zed-Earth is a fine example of such residential townships which will be home to 1,000 people who will not rely on energy or water or waste management on the outside world. Every design, service and feature is driven to bring the highest efficiency possible in home living while we don’t depend on Bescom or BWSSB for power and water. Each of the homes also offers air quality which keeps homes warm in winter and cool in summer with rare technology that costs very little for the home owner,” says Chandrashekar Hariharan – CEO BCIL (Biodiversity Conservation India limited).

Integrated townships are being seen as a place designed to create a lifestyle, in a sustainable — not just environmentally but also with respect to society as a whole. Samskruti Builders’ project Samskruti Maurya is a 100-acre residential sustainable smart township near Electronic City. “We are smart because we are resource aware in terms of managing and mitigating, sustainable because we don’t depend on water, waste, vegetables, electricity,” says Venkat Chalasani, CEO, Samskruti Builders. He adds, “We are integrated as we have not only considered various services but also considered diversity of people – from children to working class to retired community. When we did concept selling, more than 500 people signed up with us as they wanted living spaces away from traffic and pollution (as long as they can reach the work place within a reasonable amount of time).”

Pros and cons
The state government had announced integrated townships with modern facilities at Bidadi, Ramanagaram, Sathanur, Solur and Nandagudi in 2005. The plans were to develop the project on a public-private partnership with select developers who will be responsible for infrastructure development, construction, marketing, operations and maintenance of the proposed township.

While the concept is being touted as the next big thing for the realty industry, there are both pros and cons to be weighed. The advantages include affordable housing, choice of location, congestion-free roads, pollution-free atmosphere, amenities like club houses, joggers’ track, emergency and necessary services like hospitals, schools, retail shops and the like.

“The outskirts provide ample opportunity for planned development as larger land parcels are available. On the flip side, the larger development scale has a longer gestation period in terms of its success as integrated development. People are initially reluctant to move to a new and isolated location and want to move to such a place only after the place gets populated. From the developer’s perspective, there is a huge requirement of funds to develop infrastructure before he thinks of marketing the product to the buyers,” says Pravin Malkani-President Patel Realty India.

The government needs to be a facilitator, providing support to prospective developers for creating external infrastructure (power, roads, water), relaxation of stamp duty and development charges, green channel/single window clearing procedures and monitoring mechanisms.

Decongesting the city
The city is home to myriad IT companies that has fuelled demand for integrated townships. “There is a dire need for planned suburban development which should aim at sustainability. In the course of suburb development, infrastructure and commercial development precede residential development. Governments must aim at encouraging infrastructural and commercial developments in an identified suburb which would spur residential catchment development. This ensures that the suburb becomes self sufficient for all needs at short distances,” says Surendra Hiranandani, Founder and Managing Director of Hiranandani Upscale. Most townships are positioned about 20 – 25 kilometres from the city due to availability of land on a larger scale and at a lower price.

“Developers who are undertaking projects at long distance (say 40-45 km away) from the city centre might have to struggle. Selling residential and office space so far away could be an issue but a larger scale would justify distance, but they would need to generate enough employment to be sustainable and/or solve the urban transportation problem having good connectivity to road, railways etc,” says Dandapat.

Puniet Singh, CEO, Sherwoods Independent Property Consultants India Pvt. Ltd. adds, “the latest trend of moving to the outskirts in the vicinity of IT companies benefits individual and professionals to have their comfort nearby with office and home in the same areas. This will expand the horizon of modern living as well. Further the distance from the city allows its residents to stay away from traffic, pollution and congestion.”

Making a connection
The concept also contributes to a sense of place, community ownership and a strong point of difference from other urban development formats.
“There seems to be a good amount of demand for Integrated Township Development as long as there is a right mix of various elements as part of the development,” opines Brotin Banerjee, CEO and MD, Tata Housing Development Company. “With the elevated flyover on Hosur road slotted to open, people are more than happy to shift to the outskirts. We are sure that once there is planned development the project is bound to be a success,” says Malkani. According to the draft of the Karnataka Housing and Habitat Policy 2009, the state government will promote setting up of satellite townships while providing connectivity and better means of communication with Bangalore and the emerging growth corridors to boost housing. If you dreamt of walking to work, that does not seem very far from being realized.

Delhi groundwater may run dry in 3-5 years: study

“History shows us civilizations have vanished once water is also gone. Water carries people and we need to wake up now and do something before it is too late,” Mrinal Kanti Sen, director of NGRI told TOI on Tuesday.

Staring at an acute crisis, NGRI has been asked by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) under the ministry of water resources to trace new aquifers using heliborne electromagnetic techniques in the states of Rajasthan , Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Bihar and Rajasthan.

“The government is concerned and we are gearing up to find new aquifers all over the country as this is the only way out,” says Sen.

In Hyderabad, despite a very good 2011 monsoon, water levels in places like Sanjeevareddy Nagar and Maredpally were at a depth of just about 18 metres; the situation in other observatory zones are equally bad.

Hydrogeologists at NGRI and government water board officials say that with cities turning into concrete jungles very little rain water is getting infiltrated into the earth for conversion into groundwater.

“In an ideal scenario, at least 16% of total rainfall must seep into the earth to get recharged as groundwater , but in cities such as Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai barely half of it does. This is very alarming,” says Dr SN Rai, a top scientist at NGRI.

“It is going to go down further, and at this rate Hyderabad will the first to run dry in three years time. Delhi will be next and may run dry in three to five years. There is a bleak future in store for other metros,” adds Rai, also the vice president of International Association of Hydrogeologists. NGRI scientists say the scenario in Delhi, western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan are very bad with groundwater in 20 out of 27 tehsils in Delhi receding rapidly.

A two-year CGWB study shows that groundwater use in Delhi was upto 12,569 hectare metres (HM) against an extremely poor recharge of 2,652- 4,172 hm per tehsil. Vasant Vihar, Hauz Khas, Chankayapuri , along with Karol Bagh, Kotwali, Kalakji, Rajouri Garden and Paharganj, are among the worst exploited areas, officials say. Rampant digging of bore wells and poor water recharge areas due to construction of buildings are the reasons, they offer.

In Mumbai, civic bodies are resorting to artificial rains as the city’s water collection and storage is nearly 30 percent deficient; water needs can be handled only till February 2013.

CGWB officials say they have plans to revive 8000-10 ,000 old wells and hundreds of ring wells instead of the current trend of bore wells which does not help in water recharge.The only bright spot in Mumbai is that water levels in the lakes are higher than what it was last time, scientists say. The scenario in the southern metro of Chennai isn’t happy either, with hydrogeologists saying that the already declining groundwater level has been contaminated due to over exploitation . In fact, CGWB says that 247 out of 451 water samples taken from all districts of Tamil Nadu showed high levels of chloride, fluoride and nitrate — all very harmful for humans.The situation looked dangerous in towns like Perambalur, Namakkal , Salem and Vellore, officials say. In some of the areas, officials are using air compressors instead of pumps to draw groundwater.

“If Hyderabad is the worst, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai have huge water worries of their own. Unless local governments and people learn to conserve water and think about our next generation, it’s all downhill from here,” says Dr Rai.

Scientists say every big household in the city needs a minimum 3 x 10 feet pit to collect rain water from the roof and divert it to the pits for recharge . Ramesh Kumar, deputy director at the Andhra Pradesh groundwater department, says that indiscriminate digging of bore wells, and encroachment of lakes and water tanks are the prime culprits. The city has only 300-odd lakes remaining out of 900 plus in the late 1960s.

“As a result we are forced to get water from Nagarjunasagar, about 140 km away from the city, to meet water demand,” says Kumar. “Hyderabad will run dry and there is no doubt about it if this trend continues.”

%d bloggers like this: