Joint Road Forward – a new project

It is well known that in the immediate future, cities will continue to see growth across any of the given parameters: size, demographics, pollution, economy, etc. With this future scenario and with the advent of more data collection, we wanted to look at tools and methods that would be more inclusive of people during the urban planning stage.


It is in this context that we recently started a new project to look at the issue of mobility in cities. The project is a collaboration with International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore , TU Delft, The Netherlands and KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, focused on mobility in Indian and European cities. For this study we have selected Bangalore and the Randstad region in The Netherlands.

In this project we wanted to take a broader view of mobility and study how it is connected with the overall city in terms of livelihoods, commerce, livability and well-being. We plan to review the capability of current planning methods to incorporate the broader definition of mobility, and, to design new tools and methodologies to improve upon them.  

We are in the initial stages of our work which began a few months ago with a discussion on transport planning. We started studying the data from transport surveys. Transport is a key activity for livelihood (irrespective of location) in a city and often is an inevitable part of our expenditure when our work and home are located further away. This allows us to look at current approaches to transport planning.

Here I have to mention the that we stand on the shoulder of giants, i.e., transport planning already has a number of approaches to model travel in a city. One can look at speed (read: travel time), cost, comfort (or quality of service), etc. while designing transport infrastructure for a city. We are currently in the process of reviewing current planning methodologies.

We find that transport surveys indicated that there are groups of people who get excluded during transportation planning. Studying all the commuters allows us to create an inclusive map of travel demand across Bangalore. We will soon publish some of our methods and initial data. We have published an article on an approach to modelling people and their transport needs at APCOSEC’16 scheduled to be held in Bangalore in November 2016. A pre-publication copy and our presentation which are being prepared will be available on our website soon.

Day – 2 Global Goals Jam

Day -2

Day 2 was about prototyping. There were exciting brainstorming sessions and discussions to design interventions for the  problem statements identified by each of the teams. The teams produced different prototypes that modeled their intervention, which included a booklet, videos, and visualizations.


The design interventions the teams came up included:

  1. An institutional framework to provide micro-entrepreneurs with timely credit after a natural disaster
  2. An activity module for students that would spark discussions on gender perceptions
  3. A handout ‘Leave to Stay’ on easy-to-implement policies to make an organization gender inclusive
  4. A reframing of the craftspersons and artisans so that they are seen as a champion of sustainability — and how the Indian craftspersons and artisans can provide an alternative way of conceptualizing sustainability in India.
  5. A competition — ‘Attack the Pack’ to spark research and innovation in designing ecologically safe and economically viable packing materials and waste management processes for FMCG companies


















The two-day high energy jam then ended with the participants demonstrating their prototypes, and thought-provoking discussions on what support these interventions needed to move from a prototype stage to a fully developed product stage.

Day 1 of the Global Goals Jam at FoV

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a United Nations initiative and they came into effect from January 2016. The 17 SDGs form a set of Global Goals with 169 specific targets to be achieved before 2030. These 17 Goals build on the successes of the previous 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) focusing on inclusion, collaboration and cooperation.


Global Goals Jam is a world wide jam being held across 15 cities across the globe where creative teams of designers, developers and jammers from the local community would come together and brainstorm over a two-day sprint to deliver innovative solution prototypes focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

For the India jam, we had 18 participants from different backgrounds, including arts, social sciences, technology, development and design.



1.       Pallavi Sharma Photography, design, art
2.      Mohit Varyani Development studies student APU
3.      Vaishali Rao Energy, livelihoods, social entrepreneurship
4.      Anisha Nazareth IT, Sustainable sities and communities
5.      Agam Arora Design
6.      Sucharita Eashwar Enabling women’s entrepreneurship
7.      Miguel Computer Science
8.      Arzu Mistry Artist, educator
9.      Subir Rana Sociology, Anthropology, Ethnography
10.  Madonna Thomas Architect, Urban design, public transport systems
11.  Olga Alexandrova Sustainability, agriculture
12.  Tejas Shah IIIT H
13.  Morgan Campbell Urban Planning, public policy, Gender, transport
14.  Brindaalakshmi K Marketing and communications
15.  Jayasimha K IT
16.  Tushant Jha Cognitive science
17.  Sabira Lakhani Waste management, circular economics
18.  Aakarsh Sustainable cities


The Jam began in the morning at 10:30am with a short briefing and introduction to the UN SDGs and the Global goals. The participants were grouped into 5 teams and they focused on SDG 1, SDG 5, SDG 11. They were also introduced to the Fields of View methodology to design for complex problems. The Fields of View methodology involves a guided process involving two phases — the problem articulation phase and the design phase. dscn9891


The participants went through both the phases today with great success. The first phase, i.e. the problem articulation phase, involves participants working through different activities that lets them generate a common problem statement.



The problem articulation phase is then followed by the design phase, where the participants work together to imagine futures and figure out how to design for these transformations.



Day 2 will follow with prototyping and presentation of the same by the respective teams.

₹ubbish! at Goobe’s

In the year and a half that we have been playing ₹ubbish!, our game on Bangalore’s waste management, a lot of our sessions have been with researchers, field experts, students of sustainability studies, etc. We have had community engagement sessions as well, playing with a varied audience in the Hebbal ward, the Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group in Chennai, amongst others. We are keen to have more sessions on the ground, sessions that reach out to neighbourhoods, communities and the general audiences.

On 23rd July, we played ₹ubbish! At Goobe’s, one of Bangalore’s favourite indie bookstores. If you’ve been there, you’d be familiar with the stairs leading you down to the basement space, the corridor walls lined with bookshelves, and the display of compost pots from Daily Dump. Ravi Menezes, the owner of the store, agreed to host the game session in a heartbeat.


The game was set up in a cosy corner and we had nine players, some in teams of two. We began with a briefing session, like we always do, where we spoke about the Mavallipura protests, Bangalore’s decentralised waste system, and the idea of a scientific landfill (where the ground water is protected with a layer of concrete and the waste is compressed in layers), source segregation and Dry Waste Collection Centres.

We then started playing, with everyone enthusiastically picking their wards and colours. The players started with buying only part of their waste, but once they saw the landfill filling up with blocks for their wards, they conscientiously started buying all the waste they could.  What ensued was whispers of certain strategies, ebbing and flowing depending on how full the landfill box was.

Photo Credit – Goobe’s Book Republic

By the seventh round, there was  a consistent pattern of most of them buying all the waste their wards generated, irrespective of how much money they were making. However, the landfill was brimming by the eighth round, and we wound up the game by the ninth or tenth.

Photo Credit – Goobe’s Book Republic

There was a lot of interesting feedback and insights about the game. We discussed ideas of including the pourakarmikas or waste experts again, adding a personal, human touch to the game. One of the players even spoke of playing the game in housing colonies and apartments, in a championship-style tournament! There was a palpable energy in the air, with all these exciting ideas and there seemed to be a reinforced resolve to segregate waste at the source.

We hope to conduct many more sessions to reach out to Bangalore’s citizens, neighbourhoods and communities. If you’re interested in hosting a session, please contact us by writing to


What is the cost of not feeding India’s malnourished children?

‘Zero Hunger’ is the second sustainable development goal, the first being no poverty. The key to achieving both these goals lies in ‘all people at all times having physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food  that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life’, which is how ‘food security’ is defined as. And what holds the key to food security is agriculture, on which around 40 per cent of our population directly depends on for their livelihood. Given that agriculture and food security are such key concerns, how is our Government planning for it, how much are we investing in it, and what does our union budget have to say about that? These were some of the questions tackled by Dr. Madhura Swaminathan, Professor at the Economic Analysis Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore, in her lecture on ‘Food security and agriculture: Implications of current policy and budget’. The lecture was organised by our neighbour in south Bangalore, Centre for Budget and Policy Studies, as part their annual lecture series on budgets.

Even before going into issues of access, the first question that comes up when it comes to food security is do we have enough? Do we have sufficient food to feed a population of little more than a billion people? According to Dr. Madhura, up to the 90s the answer to that question was yes. The graph of food production she showed hovered above the line tracking our population growth. But after the 90s, the situation reversed, which is bad news for both sides — those who grow food and those who eat food.

How badly have the producers of food been affected? For starters, there is little data on income of producers, said Dr. Madhura. To address this paucity of data, a group of scholars including Dr. Madhura conducted detailed surveys of 5000 households in 22 villages as part of the Project on Agrarian Relations in India (PARI). From the income data collected, Dr. Madhura highlighted two observations — one of extreme inequality. In the same village there are farmers who earn around Rs. 29 lakh a year, and others who barely make do. The other was of what she termed as ‘negative income’, where what you earned was less than what you spent. A significant number of farmer households have negative incomes. This leads farmers to abandon farming entirely, which exacerbates the situation we have now where already the food we produce isn’t enough for us all to be food secure.


Why is agriculture not making profits for these small (less than 2 hectare holding size) and marginal (less than one hectare holding size) farmers? First is that the input costs (seeds, fertilisers, machinery, etc) have shot up, something that is particularly hard on the small and marginal farmers. Second, the Minimum Support Price set by the Government isn’t enough to compensate for the investments that have gone in.

What then is the Government doing?

Not nearly enough, said Dr. Madhura. Though newspaper headlines hailed an almost 94 per cent increase in Government spending on agriculture, she said the increase was the result of some deft statistical jugglery with ‘interest subvention’. When the Government gives banks money so that they can then lend to farmers (or any sector) at a reduced rate of interest, it is termed as ‘interest subvention’. The money allocated thus for interest subvention goes to the banks, and not to farmers directly. The amount Government allocates for interest subvention for agriculture was earlier not added to the agricultural budget, but this year it was. And the sum of Rs. 15,000 crore allocated to interest subvention accounts for the gigantic leap into agricultural acchedin. What happens if you remove that figure? What you the get is an increase of around Rs. 7000 crore, which would not have garnered the kind of headlines that the budget did. (For a detailed analysis of why the allocation ‘math for the agricultural sector in the budget doesn’t add up’, go here.)

If we take away the interest subvention, does the figures still indicate an increased spending in agriculture?

If you look at spending in agriculture as a percentage of GDP, in 2012-13, it was 0.3 and in 2016-17 it is again 0.3. Therefore, it isn’t a big difference from what has happened earlier.

But the interest subvention has been increased from Rs. 13,000 crore to Rs. 15,000 crore. Isn’t that a good thing?

Apparently not, said Dr. Madhura. As mentioned earlier, the money given for interest subvention goes to the banks and not the farmers. One study shows that most credit goes to urban and metropolitan banks rather than rural banks and is disbursed to either large farmers or even large corporates. For instance, if a soft drink company wants to put up an irrigation system, it would be eligible for a loan. Therefore, the small and marginal farmers, who are in dire need of timely and affordable credit, are not the main beneficiaries. (For more on how ‘rural’ is agricultural credit, go here. The op-ed piece draws from studies by the same authors Dr. Madhura referred to.)

In this scenario, what happens to people who need food? We are worse off than all our neighbours when it comes to malnutrition figures, and so there is no question that there are a large number of desperate people who need immediate attention.

What are we doing for nearly 30 per cent of India’s children who are underweight? (For more on the ‘overlooked malnutrition crisis in India’, go here.)

Not much, according to Dr. Madhura. There has been a gradual policy shift toward targeted schemes, where the Government ‘targets’ who needs attention, rather than go toward universal food security. Now targeting has two kinds of errors – errors of inclusion and exclusion. If those who don’t need subsidised food get it, it is an error of inclusion. If those who need it don’t get it, it is an error of exclusion. The focus has been on errors of inclusion, because you can estimate financially what that error costs you. On the other hand, the error of exclusion is tricky.

For example, what is the cost of not feeding India’s malnourished children?

What happens when people who need the food don’t get it? Malnutrition, disease, inter-generational issues — all these are intangibles, and therefore difficult to put a cost on. Numbers can prove to be tyrannical. Easily quantifiable, something that can be plotted in graphs and charts is tangible, and something that evades that kind of easy quantification becomes an almost ephemeral entity. If there is no calculable cost to not giving children food they need, then it becomes intangible, a non-headline grabbing entity that fades into and falls off the margins.

Before asking the question of what is the cost of not feeding India’s malnourished children, the, more crucial question becomes, should we know the answer to that to make us do something about it?

An aria in Babel or what happened at DotXDab

What happens when artists meet coders meet journalists meet scientists meet …? Different people, diverse disciplines, multiple voices, and many ways of seeing. Will there be a Tower of Babel tangle of tongues? Or will we witness an emergence, a gradual becoming, an unrehearsed harmony?

We were curious, and decided to hold Dot Cross Dab, a one-day design jam on April 2, 2016, where we invited artists, coders, journalists, scientists, … — you get the picture. Twelve brave souls joined us, who were split into groups of three.


The first group had Ayontika Paul, a writer; Antony William, who teaches at the National Institute of Design, Bangalore; and Tanmayee Narendra, a student of computer science at IIIT-Bangalore. The second group had Padmini Ray Murray, who teaches at Srishti School of Art, Design, and Technology; Shramana Dey, an environmental scientist; and Angshuman Das, a student from IIIT-B. Shakti Banerjee, who teaches at the National Institute of Design; Anisha Nazareth, a student from IIIT-B; and Akash Hans, an artist who works in advertising, were in the third group. And the final group had Karthik Krishnaswamy, a sports journalist; Adishesh Iyengar, who runs a start-up; and Soumitro, a student at the NID, Bangalore.



Ways of seeing

The teams were given a choice — either they could design on their own, or they could have a firsthand experience of the FoV methodology, which we use in-house for interdisciplinary design. All the teams chose to go with the FoV methodology.

The theme of the first edition of DotXDab was ‘Equity in the City’. At the outset, every one individually mulled over different lenses with which you could view the theme. Caste, class, gender, education, access, appearance — these were just some of the different lenses folks came up with.


The lenses went up on the wall on post-it notes, and slowly a clustering began to emerge.



Collectively, the participants debated over different lenses, and each group found an affinity to a certain lens, with which they worked with through the course of the day.



Now that the lenses were chosen, the teams split up to discuss about what was the problem they wanted to focus on, and think through different dimensions of the problem. The problem formulation session had two parts — the first where the team thought over the problem they wanted to design for, and the second part where they listed different actors who affected the problem, and who were affected by it.

The first team chose to focus on how external appearance affects the way you ‘see’ different people.


The second team focused on how language creates barriers rather than bridges.


The third team wanted to recreate that lost sense of community by bringing people together for fun,


and the fourth wanted to think about the problem of loitering at night.



Post-lunch, the teams focused on designing an artifact that would address the problem they chose, and presented it to others at the end of the day.


Is what you see what you get?

The first team came up with a song (and sang it too, with chorus and all) that spoke about how what you see is not always what you get.


The Language Cafe

The second team came up with a ‘Language cafe’, where Kannada can meet Bhojpuri over coffee and kodubale, and in doing so understand each other a bit better. The ‘Language Cafe’ is an end-to-end concept, complete with a curriculum, a flag, hashtags, and a detailed schematic for an app.


Talk to me

The third team came up with a message board — something you can perhaps soon spot in elevators or corridors of apartment complexes. With empty pockets of spaces, the board invites you to fill in messages for your neighbours to see — ‘Cricket match at Apartment #304’ or ‘Congratulations to Seema from #402 on completing tenth standard!’



Stories of the night

The fourth team who wanted to encourage people to loiter at night, first came up with the idea of creating a map that could travel on different streets, where you could add on your own story of what happened that night.

Building on that idea, the team came up with a ‘Story machine’, a machine that prints you someone else’s story of the night if you tell it one of your own.


The team invited someone from the other groups to tell a story, as they had a quick prototype to convert speech into text that could be printed out.


From a broad theme of ‘Equity in the City’ there emerged four different ideas of how to make the city a bit better. And lest we forget, the idea of what that ‘better’ meant was debated, discussed, and decided over many cups of buttermilk, nippatu from Nippatu Nagaraj, and organic millet cookies from Orgtree.


We leave you with the song – to be spoken out to the beat of 1-2-123. Last two lines tobereadwithoutstoppingforbreath. And the chorus goes

‘What you see is what you get.

What you see, you soon forget’

– sung twice between each stanza.



Prof. Solly Benjamin – Cities or Smart Cities?

For the fourth podcast of our Smart Cities podcast series, we have Prof. Benjamin Solly, associate professor at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology – Madras (IIT-M).

Prof. Solly begins by talking about the notions of a city, before delving into “smart cities”. He says that in its most essential core, “a city is a lifeform, built around multitudes of people, and has density as one of its characteristics. But the density also means that the people who constitute this ‘coming together’ can do so in very different logics of economics, the way they get access to land, transport, and shelter. The city is also a social and a cultural space where identities themselves get reformed.”

In such a context, Prof Solly adds, the notion of a smart city gets contested. What we instead need to ask, is what cities are and how do we understand them. Giving the example of Chandigarh, and the notions of top-down planning of Corbusier and even Nehru, Prof Solly talks about how historically cities have been threatening to top down planning methods. In this context, the concept of “smart cities” comes out “of fear – a fear of urbanisation, a crisis of planning, and a lack of control”. The assumption that planners and policy makers have is that cities are uncontrollable processes, which have to be disciplined – and the visionary alternate for them thus, is the smart city.

Speaking of citizen participation and the data collection, Prof Solly asks whether the assumption that there is no participation now is accurate, or it is just that the State is of the opinion that people participate but do so in unruly ways to shape governance on their terms. He gives the example citizen participation around the regularisation of revenue layout in Bangalore, and the complex negotiations around these. The crisis of participation, he adds, is the “expert rule” of “progressive academics such as myself”, or the “consultant researchers”, both of who are still disconnected “conceptually and materially” from how people are actually engaging with the city and its administration using politics to create these spaces. Thus, he offers a critique of both the rhetoric around smart cities, and of people criticising it: “The critique of smart cities, in its core logic, does not look very different from those people who are promoting it!”

You can listen to entire podcast below:

In case the embedded audio doesn’t work, you can download the entire podcast here.

Fields of View turns 4!


The door is ajar, slightly. It is a moment of anticipation, that tiny space of time before something happens. In between lists, trips, emails, and meetings, something stills. Pauses. The possibility of someone to come. The promise of conversations.

We turned four-years-old last week.

Over the past four years, we have built a foundation, a foundation based on a culture of curiosity and camaraderie. We hope to build on this foundation and there’s a strong undercurrent of excitement underlining this moment of anticipation – of ideas becoming real and conversations turning into collaborations.

For the third consecutive year, we have been featured in the Global Go To Think Tank Index Report by the University of Pennsylvania that ranks public policy research organisations worldwide in the ‘Best New Idea or Paradigm developed by a Think Tank’ category. (

We wish to thank all of you, without whom the journey so far would not have been possible.

Warm regards,
The FoV team.

P.S. We have a new website :

Field visit of Bellandur lake – ‘Why are Bangalore’s lakes foaming?’

Bellandur Lake – Field Visit

Our visit to the lake was spread over two days, Oct 21st and Oct 22nd, 2015, to understand what the people who live near the lake understand about the frothing issue. The first day, we walked from the Bellandur bus stop through the busy (with motor vehicles) Outer Ring Road and equally busy (with a mix people and vehicles) Lake Road.

Location of Bellandur Lake in Bangalore City

Image 1: Location of Bellandur Lake in Bangalore City

Map showing the corresponding site locations as mentioned in the narration

Image 2: Map showing the corresponding site locations as mentioned in the narration

Location 1: Our first encounter of the lake was an outlet canal running southwards towards Varthur Lake. As we walked past the bridge above this outlet canal we came face to face with the white water due to foaming. This foam however looked milky white from far away and hence was romantic with its snowy look. But once we moved close to it, we were repelled by the smell and the need to protect ourselves from the flying foam. This moment reminded us of the warning issued in various newspapers that the water and the foam were extremely hazardous. Another strange sight was that the canal bank and the bridge that had turned black. This could be due to the burning of the foam and their continuous exposure to the foam.

View of the Outlet from the bridge with foaming water  

Image 3: View of the Outlet from the bridge with foaming water (On the right: Blackened bund wall)

Location 2: There is a traditional worship area on the bund below two large trees, which we encountered after crossing the road. The road that connects Outer Ring Road and HAL road is exactly on the bund of the Bellandur Lake. On the other side of the road (opposite to the bridge and even the worship spot), you can spot a huge residential development (named Lake View). We are unsure if the foaming issue has had any impact on the real estate market.

worship area                 

residential development

Images 4 and 5: The Worship area and the residential development (On the right: the canal)

Foaming on the slop

Image 6: Foaming on the slope of the outlet

Further, we noticed that the foam formed after the slope and had not formed where the water was still in the lake. The water in the lake was not foaming, however the water was turbid and black. Hence we felt that the foaming of the lake was not an accurate statement; the issue is better described as foaming in the outlets of the lake.

Location 3: On walking further on the road, we came across a temporary settlement of migrant labourers, mostly from Bihar. They were working in a new development coming up, and we saw that the settlement was made by filling a trench. Further filling was happening on the other side of the road. The labourers had said that the lake had ‘ganda pani’ (dirty water) and could not be used for any domestic purposes. They got water from tankers and were satisfied with that supply. This was the end of the first day trip, as it had already become dark. The next day we started from the settlement and found some residents from the settlement who informed us that this was a serene view of the lake and they had seen two girls taking pictures of the lake. However they were not much worried about the lake since they were new to the place and thought that the sewage from all over city came and fell into the lake.

Location 4: On walking further we came across a teenage boy (Ravi) from Yamlur who was collecting vegetation from the fringes of the lake using a small boat. When asked about the lake, he insisted that the lake is not too hazardous since he had been collecting vegetation daily and it had not harmed him. He stated that the vegatation was used as feed for his cows and the cows had no strange reactions after  eating the vegetation. The boy insisted that he could not stop the collection since it was his livelihood. He further stated that the newspaper reports were hyped. Meanwhile his father also joined him and asked him to speed up since it was getting late. The boy’s father was also sceptical about the reports in the newspapers and not concerned about using vegetation from the lake while the water was foaming in the outlets of the lake. Meanwhile, an old man also came to speak with us on his own accord, claiming to live just across the river. He said he owned some goat, chicken, etc. He said that his uncle had moved to Yamlur from Chennai (then Madras) in the 1950s to benefit from the prosperous Bellandur lake. He felt that the lake was the source of livelihood for many not only in the past but continued to be so. All these local residents and dependants of the lake along with a passerby confirmed that the lake continued to have a thriving aquatic life, particularly fishes which were captured fortnightly. 

Vegetation extraction       

Boy with his single bunch

Image 7: Vegetation extraction         Image 8: The boy with his single bunch

This reminded us of a news article that the locals were now hesitant to consume the fish; rating the fishes from the lake as poisonous.

Location 5: On walking further we found a tender coconut vendor in an isolated locality. He had moved recently from Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu and owned an oldpaper business just behind his vending spot while carrying on coconut vending as an additional business. In the same premises where he runs his business, there was a new construction for a bar which would be owned by another owner from the locality. The tender coconut vendor also owns a water tanker which depended upon the water extracted from a tube well. The vendor was also dependent on this water supply for his domestic uses (except for drinking). He claimed that he didn’t have any problem with the water and found it to be clean (in spite of the tube well being very close to the lake – minimum of just 10 feet). However he was more concerned about the foaming on rainy and windy days since the foam got carried away and though it felt as if it was snowing, it was actually unsafe. He said that the foam was carried from the northward outlet canal which was nearby (beneath the bridge before Yamlur) and spread all over the area affecting the daily routine of the residents and the commuters. The lake road was said to be one of the busiest stretch connecting the HAL road with Outer Ring road in Bellandur. He was also aware that the water went to the Krishnagiri reservoir through outlet canals and said that he had witnessed the water in that reservoir and claimed it looked dirty but not as much as Bellandur’s. He was also satisfied with the fact that his native town would not be affected by this polluted water since they used cauvery water from Hogenekkal and ground water.

Outlet northwards near yamlur        

Foaming after the slope

Image 9 : Outlet (northwards) near Yamlur   Image 10: Foaming after the slope (beneath the bridge)

Location 6: On further moving north of the road, we reached another outlet (northwards) where the water sloped below the bridge and foamed after the fall of the water into the outlet canal (just beneath the bridge). The water was black, turbid and had a foul smell. The foam was thick.

Location 7: But immediately after the slope and flow normalized to a clean flow after around 500 metres where the water flowed smoothly.

Foaming in the outlet canal       

Reduced foam since the flow is smooth

Image 11: Foaming in the outlet canal       Image 12: Reduced foam since the flow is smooth

Location 8: We then returned back on the same path and observed that even though we could not find any inlet into the lake we could see some inflow into the outlet canals from the localities. We found some solid waste also thrown into canals. Even though this did not affect the lake, it affected the quality of water in the canal and hence the downstream.

  Suspected outlet pipe from the new development

Image 13: Suspected outlet pipe from the new development 

Sewage flow into the south outlet canal and solid waste thrown near the bridge  

Image 14: Sewage flow into the south outlet canal and solid waste thrown near the bridge

  Domestic Sewage flowing directly into the south outlet canal 

Image 15: Domestic Sewage flowing directly into the south outlet canal

Everyone we met blamed the sewage water which is pumped into the lake from the growing city. Since the inlets were not visible from the road, we were not able to get an idea of the condition of the water coming into the lake.

What articles did people read on Bangalore’s lakes foaming?

As part of Fields of View’s Research in Play series, we had invited citizens to become researchers for a week and pursue the question – ‘why are Bengaluru’s lakes foaming?’

We had three researchers — Angshuman Das from IIIT-B, Soundarajan R from APU, and Karthik Natarajan, an independent designer and architect join us.

First, the team undertook desk research and went through different news and journal articles on Bangalore’s lakes. Following is a guest post analysing how many people read what articles based on Facebook and Twitter data.

Authors of the post below: Angshuman Das, IIIT-B, Soundarajan, APU


Graph 1: Including the citylabs article.


Graph 2: Excluding the Citylabs article.

Top 3 articles read as per above data:


In this article, problems faced by the pedestrians and cars due to heavy foaming like traffic jams, foul smell, skin problems were presented. It mentioned that cleaning of the lakes would be a very difficult task as there was a lot of pollution in that area. The article also blamed the corrupted Government officials for not taking sufficient measures to prevent frothing. Documentary photographer Mr. Ghosh presented some clear photographs of froth formed in the Bellandur Lake.

In this article, views of the local residents regarding the frothing of Varthur and Bellandur Lake were present. A member of citizen action group, Whitefield spoke about the unbearable stench in that region due to foaming. Some residents consider encroachments in and around lakes as the main cause for pollution of the Lake. Most of the residents also blamed the BWSSB for releasing untreated sewage in the Lakes .It also briefly mentioned about poor quality of Lake water (presence of high quantity of ammonia and phosphate, low dissolved oxygen).


In this article, views of angry local residents living near Varthur Lake were present. Residents spoke about the filthy quality of Lake water, presence of urine and faecal matter ,high levels of toxicity in the Lake water. Professor TV Ramachandra from IISc Bangalore is worried about the increasing pollution in the Lake, presence of untreated sewage, carcinogenic nitrates which are causing the froth. While most of the residents blamed the Govt. officials for being negligent, the state’s Pollution Control chairperson Dr.Acharya replied that more sewage plants would be constructed across the city to prevent disposal of untreated sewage into the Lakes. 

For more information regarding the reasons for frothing of lakes, constituents of Bellandur Lake water and case study of Bellandur Lake over a period of 10 years, you can refer to these research papers: