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The OORU-NEERU Water Walk

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29 Jun 2008 09:08
6 Jul 2008 09:08
Attention shutterbugs and bangalore enthusiasts!! An excellent oppurtunity to show your camers skills and to get some insider gyaan on water in bangalore from S. Vishwanath. The OORU-NEERU Water Walk will look at the Hesarghatta reservoir and its current state. A siphon provided as an overflow mechanism, another unique structure worth a closer look, remnants of a brick aqueduct and a small temple on the bund are some of the other facets that will be looked upon during this walk. The Hessarghatta Urban Space Event is being organised for the Bangalore City Project by S. Vishwanath, ( and who writes extensively on water issues. To participate in OORU-NEERU, please call Sandhya at 080-2364 4690 or send an e-mail to rainwaterclub[at] A bus will be organised to take participants to Hessarghatta from Queen’s Statue, Cubbon Park. There are only 35 seats which will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Please bring drinking water and some snacks, if required. The walk will be about 3 km in distance and will take about 2.5 hours. Participants who wish to come in their own private transport should reach Hessarghatta reservoir by 10.30 a.m. and wait for the group near the temple on the bund of the reservoir. EVENT PROGRAM 09:00 am Bus Pick-up Point: Queen's Statue, M G Road 10:30 am Walk Starting Point: Durgamba Temple, Hesarghatta Lake 03:00 pm Drop-off Point: Queen's Statue, M G Road NOTE: We are punctual, so please be on time if you don't want to be left behind! WATER-WALK PHOTOS: PARTICIPANTS INVITED TO CONTRIBUTE!! Photos of the event that are sent by the participants to arcna[at] will be posted here. So bring your cameras and help us fill in the blanks :) The Project Driver will write out a brief report on the pros and cons of organising this event. Details on logistics and learning from this experience will also be entered. ------------- My note: Folks those of you who can make it please go. S. Vishwanath is organising the walk. He has written many articles on water in bangalore. Plus an oppurtunity for shutter bugs at praja. :)


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Hesarghatta: The History

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Excerpts from Lessons from a reservoir by S. Vishwanath Located to the west of Bangalore at a distance of 24 km, picturesque Hessarghatta is home to one of the first city water supply schemes located outside of a city. A bund was probably built in 1532 on the Arkavathy, creating the Hessarghatta tank which served as an irrigation tank for centuries. It was comprehensively redone in 1894 to become the major water supplier to Bangalore. For the first time the city had reached out for water beyond its tanks such as Dharmambudhi, Sampangi, Ulsoor and Sankey and local wells. A brick aqueduct brought water to a distance and then steam pumps were used to pump it up to Chimney Hills from where the water flowed by gravity to the Jewel Filters at Malleswaram. The then Dewan K. Sheshadri Iyer played a key role in the development of the Hessarghatta water supply scheme which came to be called the Chamarajendra Water Works, as did the then Chief Engineer of Mysore M.C.Hutchins. It is now difficult to believe that Hessarghatta was chosen for reasons of long-term availability and purity of water. D.K.Subramanian, in his seminal essay ‘Bangalore City’s water supply – A study’ mentions that the Chamarajendra Water Works was meant to deliver 55 litres of water per person per day to a population of 250,000 and the filtered water supply started on August 7, 1896. Till the commissioning of the Thippagondanahalli reservoir in 1932-33, Hessarghatta remained the largest supplier of filtered water to the city. The reservoir last filled up in 1994 and year on year collects less and less water and therefore has gradually been given up as a reliable source of water for the city. A reservoir with a catchment area of 189 square miles and with 184 tanks in its upper catchment and supplying 36 million litres per day of water becoming virtually redundant indicates the necessity for managing the catchment appropriately and ensuring good practices for free flow of water. Bangalore simply moved from Hessarghatta to Thippagondanahalli and from there to Torekadinahalli for Cauvery water. The brick aqueduct and volute siphon are amazing water heritage structures fit to be preserved and displayed. It reveals the skills of our water engineers in being able to design and build beautiful systems. They now lie derelict. We need to revive and proudly display them for our future generations. We need to understand the changes in the catchment of the Arkavathy and look at reviving the river and regenerating flows. The Hessarghatta reservoir has the capacity to supplement Bangalore’s water requirements at a far cheaper cost than any other. It makes ecological and economic sense to look at its revival. In learning from history the right lessons lies water wisdom.
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the saga of two rajas, one bhatta and a lake

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Saving Hesaraghatta http://www.telegraphindia... What was once Bangalore?s main source of water has silted up almost to vanishing point. But if some enterprising individuals have their way, it?ll return in full flood, reports Varuna Verma A mundu-clad villager, a pony-tailed photo-journalist and a nattily dressed chartered accountant make an odd threesome. It's a trio that meets only in a Bollywood scriptwriter?s hyper imagination. But their assorted backgrounds was the last thing on S.T. Basavaraja's and Mahesh Bhat's minds as they stood in a huddle on the dry bed of the Hesaraghatta lake, on the outskirts of Bangalore. They were even oblivious to the sandstorm that four bulldozers were furiously raking around them. The storm brought good news. The bulldozers were clearing the silt from the Hesaraghatta lake's eastern channel. This channel would connect the lake to a catchment area. Next monsoon should bring water to the lake. The Hesaraghatta lake could do with some water. Last year, the historic 1,630-hectare lake that had been Bangalore's single source of water for about one century dried up to the last drop. "I saw the lake dry up inch by inch. No one tried to save it," says Bhat. The Hesaraghatta lake was built by the Dewan of Mysore state in 1894. It was Bangalore's main source of water till it started drying up in the early 1990s. Silting, deforestation and providing water to a rapidly growing population took a toll on the lake. The lake's demise moved three men into action. Basavaraja, an arecanut farmer from Hesaraghatta village, Bhat, a jet-setting freelance photo-journalist, and Devaraj, an affluent chartered accountant, came together in an effort aimed at breathing life back into the lake. Each wants the lake back for a different reason. Basavaraja is driven by emotions. The Hesaraghatta lake was a part of his childhood. He learnt to swim in it. His father would catch fish from the lake to feed the family. The endless bird-watchers who came wearing sun hats and binoculars and would sit crouched in one spot for hours were a constant source of amusement to him and his friends. Trekking around the five-km-by-three-km lake was one big adventure as it took the whole day and meant carrying a packed lunch. The weekend picnickers from Bangalore kept the tea stalls and restaurants in brisk business. "Sundays were like one big mela-day around the lake," remembers Basavaraja. Today, one old, tired-looking snack-vendor sits beside the lake now. That too, out of sheer habit and not business considerations. "This is the only job I've known," he says. His customer base is reduced to the village children who take a snack-break after a noisy game of cricket on the lake-bed. Mahesh Bhat has an academic concern for the lake. He lives in a dance school campus nearby and witnessed, day after day, the once sprawling Hesaraghatta lake dry up. Finally, last year, there was not a drop of water to be seen. "It speaks volumes about our whole-hearted disregard for water conservation," he says. The Bangalore Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (BMRDA) made a last-ditch effort to save the lake in the late Nineties. It commissioned the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to conduct a study on why the lake was drying up. Following ISRO's report, the BMRDA ordered that no residential colonies were to come up around the lake and made organic farming and rainwater harvesting compulsory. "The rules remained on paper," says Bhat. Devaraj is the sleeping partner of the group. The chartered accountant owns a farmhouse near the lake, where he would spend lazy weekends chilling out and sometimes bird-watching. He wanted to help save the lake, but didn't have the time to contribute. So he chipped in with the resources. Devaraj organised the earth-mover for de-silting the lake and sponsored the diesel. Operation "Save the Lake" was kicked off by Basavaraja. He decided it was time for action when the lake finally dried up completely, lowering the water table from 100 feet down to 700 feet. By then, the migratory birds had all disappeared. "I couldn't bear to watch the deterioration any longer," he says. Basavaraja started the Akravathy Kera Seva Samiti, put up hand-written banners and hired an autorickshaw mounted with a microphone to spread the Save Hesaraghatta message. Vote-seeking politicians have probably numbed people to any message passed through mobile microphones and street banners. Basavaraja's campaign did not spark any radical mass movement. "A few people lent support. But we didn't know where to go from there," he says. Bhat happened to read a banner and contacted Basavaraja. The ball got rolling. For starters, Bhat gave the crusade a trendy name. The movement was now called, "Friends of Hesaraghatta". Next, he asked his friends in high places to open doors to the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) the body that owned the lake. The BWSSB was magnanimous enough to grant permission to Bhat and Company to de-silt the lake. Four bulldozers were organised to start work. The toughest bit was to motivate villagers to help out. People thought Bhat was talking through his hat when he asked the community to chip in to de-silt the lake's three-kilometre-long, badly blocked water channel. "It took all our convincing skills to sell the idea," says Bhat. Hesaraghatta's friends finally managed to get 30 sturdy young village men to do shramadan every Sunday for eight weeks. A three-km channel, that connected the lake to a catchment area, was opened and water began trickling into Hesaraghatta lake. Now, the lake has three feet of water spread over a few hectares. Bhat is hoping to see the lake full to a quarter of its original size in the next five years. Bhat has other plans ? he now hopes to become a Water Ambassador. Friends of Hesaraghatta will be spreading the message of water conservation in corporates, clubs, parties wherever they can find an audience. Basavaraj is not looking that far ahead he only wants his beloved Hesaraghatta lake to breathe again. comment guidelines

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