Bangalore, a burgeoning metropolis is battling a problem of scarcity on the water count. The scarcity of water is a problem, which has been artificially created. Historically, Bangalore was never a water surplus region. It is for this reason that the great founder of our city designed a system of lakes to effectively harvest rain water and mitigate the problem of water scarcity.
Despite the numerous number of lakes in the city, the water shortage did not cease to exist and in the year 1930s, we saw the construction of TG Halli reservoir. The Cauvery Phase one came along in the 1970s and in my opinion this was the time, that Bangalore started seeing the neglect of Arkvathy and Kumudavthi rivers along with the lakes being converted into parks and playgrounds.
The reservoir has capacity to supply about 135 MLD of water on a daily basis to meet the water needs of Bangalore. This reservoir along with Hesarghatta Lake was an important source of water for Bangalore West before the Cauvery project took off. These river systems need to be revived for our future generation. Indiscriminate digging of bore wells in Bangalore Rural, Chikkaballapur, Tumkur and Kolar districts have led to these rivers almost being depleted. There are an estimated 3 lakh bore wells in Bangalore rural itself which has contributed to Arkvathy becoming a dry bed. The need of the hour is to adopt scientific and eco friendly methods of farming along with RWH being taken up at individual and community level. Lakes are the most scientific and advanced method of RWH being carried out at the community level.
Vrishabhvathi, a second level tributary of Cauvery is a picture of neglect because of BWSSB's attempts to divert Bangalore's sewage into the river. The river miraculously becomes clean after it crosses Bangalore. The soil on the bank of this river is extremely fertile. The locality of Rajajeshwari Nagar on the banks of this river was once a Hobli comprising of five verdant villages. These villages were known for their cultivation of Raagi and Coconut. There is an urgent need to revive all these rivers for our future generations and reduce our dependence on Cauvery. The costs both in economic and environmental terms are huge if we are over dependent on water being pumped from KRS. There is also the issue of leakage of water, which needs to be addressed when water is being pumped from such a long distance. There have also been question marks over the quality of water. The water has to traverse through water pipes for over 100 kms and there is always the danger of corrosion of pipes.
The Vrishabhavati and the Suvarnamukhi are the tributaries which drain part of Bangalore and Anekal Taluk respectively into the Arkavati River. The sad part is most residents of Bangalore are not even aware of the existence of these rivers. We need to work towards increasing awareness about these rivers and the need to revive them for future generations. I am also surprised that a lot of city based environmentalists hardly speak about Arkavthy River or its second level tributaries.
The Siddaramaiah Government has been sitting on a report by the British High Commission to revive the Arkvathy River. The high commission had also offered technical support to revive the river. Instead it has chosen to focus on Yettinahole project. The project is an expensive one and could turn out to be an ecological disaster. Let us work towards reviving these rivers and save Bangalore from becoming another Detroit.