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Crossing of Arkavathi Tore - How vibrant it was !

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[promoting a nice comment from Mr Nagaraj's other post - moderator]

I was very young, may be 7 years old when i heard about this concept called " Kallatore"( surprise stream). We were at my grand fathers place at Tavarekere for holidays. after the vacation when we were ready to go back to our farm house,but my grand father said we cant travel alone since the surprise stream is expected any time in monsoon. The normal stream was always there but none of them could predict the occurence of surprise stream. In those days there was no bridge for Arkavathi stream near varthore on Thavarekere and Nelamangala road. The bus used to stop near the stream,the proprietor and driver of this bus which transected through Arkavathi river basin area used to ask the elderly people to get down when the bus reached  the stream. The elders got down and started crossing the stream holding their slippers in the hand..

The bus proprietor & driver is a crazy guy and he used to call every traveller by their names. Some time he used to park the bus near a tree and relax for some time. If there was any event in any travellers house he used to take all his travellers for lunch. Thet day when he crossed the stream with so much of difficulty he wanted to relax for some time and he parked the bus near the tree and waited for the elders to cross the stream.I was sitting in the bus wondering from where the stream is coming like this. Tank cascades and all those connections were beyond my comprehension. Mr.Ramoji,the proprietor/driver of the bus was relaxing under the tree with a burning question in his lips. I was gazing at my father who was coming up slowly from Artkavathi stream. Mr.Ramoji suddenly got up,sat on the drivers seat and started blowing the horn very violently and was screaming at the elders to ascertain whether every body had crossed the stream.

As we were all watching the stream started raising though there was no sign of rain. The elders ran helter skelter from the stream and .started collecting under the tree where Mr.Ramoji had a burning question in his lips; very soon so many of the elders had burning questions in their hands and lips;all of them were smoking and talking about the occurence of surprise stream. After burning many questions they all arrived at a consensus that there is overflow in Machohalli, K.G.Lakkenahalli and Gangondahalli tanks. This cascade of tanks spread parallelly to Bangalore and Tippagondanahalli reservior road. This cascade was contributing considearably to the surprise stream of Arkavathi;even now there is water in these tanks. But Gangondahalli tank is situated near the NICE ROAD and is vulnerable to pollutants;most of the truck drivers and car drivers use this tank to wash their vehicles.

Another cascade of tanks which contributed to the surprise flow of Arkavathi was Mantanakurchi, Hunnigere and Sondekoppa tank casade with a huge hillock catchment area; now there is huge granite quarrying going on in the catchment area of Sondekoppa tank cascade. The hillock which was familiarly known as ' Hulikallu gudda' is now transformed in to a huge cavity with the quarrying activities. Those who want to understand the puzzle on Why Arkavathi got dried up should see this big cavity on the hillocks; more land is brought under cultivation,all the hillocks are mutiliated and there is drastic deline in the catchment area of these tanks which contributed to the flow of Arkavathi.

Ramoji the bus proprietor/driver is no more now all the stories he collected from the travellers have dis appeared along with him. He had only one bus when Arkavathi was flowing, now his successors have more buses. Ramoji knew all his travellers by their names but his many drivers know very few people.

One day i climbed the bus along with my father and Ramoji had a strange story to tell my father that people are fishing out Guava fruits from Sondekoppa tank. It happened some thing like this, the guava fruits were plucked and they were dumped in the water stream in my farm, the rain started and the workers ran helter and skelter to hide from the rain;when they came back to the stream where they dumped the fruits all of them were taken away by the rain.So people fished fruits from the tanks. When the merchant was worrying about the flooded fruits strange things started occuring, huge eel fishes started jumping in to our guava farm. Seeing number of eeel fishes hopping arround the farm the merchants face started flowering like Jasmine flower. Now this eel fishes are an extinct specie in the Arkavathi basin.

One day we were playing near the Sluice gate of the tank, suddenly there was a change in the atmosphere; the clouds started floating,there was thunder storm; huge flock of butter flies started flying from west to east; we were warned to leave the place and go home but we were caught in the rain and some how reached the watch tower built by the fruit merchant. The rain stopped only after 4 hours,and we saw our father building a wooden bridge to enable us to cross over the stream and reach home.

Now when i go home and wander arround the places in the farm i remember the lines " Water brought us here and water will take us back". There are no tortoises, frogs, water snakes, eeel fishes, no aquatic birds. Yesterday i noticed the death of honey bees; throught Arkavathi basin area we noticed the honey bees desperately sucking water from where ever there is leakage in the irrigation system.
Now i strongly believe that ' water brought us here and water will take us back'.



L.C.nagaraj's picture

Hello Rithesh

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Hello Rithesh,

We have to do some thing. As i understand from your postings you are from Gowribidanoor or Chikkaballapur area. Simillar situation prevails in all the places.After the long journey and my interactions with the farmers i am thinking of only one alternativer which is a shift in the current agriculture practice.
1) To stop burning the agriculture crop residues,2) shifting in to tree crop method to decline the pressure on the aquifers(bore wells)3) to protect all the water streams covered with trees ,4) gradual shift to natural farming,5) regreening of Nandi hills and Hulukudi hills
6) shift from water logged rice cultivation in to traditional PUNAJI( Rice with pulse crops) method of rice cultivation( Save on 60% of water)

I am convinced that with tree crop method in companion ship with 2 rain fed crops can help the farmers and also Arkavathi basin. We are required closely with the farmers to change some the stereotypic notions developed by commercial agriculture guys; OOOk let me not call it green revolution. As Sir Albert howard had written to British government during the British rule in India " there is nothing that indian farmers should be taught of. Indian agriculture was very perfect prior to 1960s, the farmers had abundance of traditional knowledges. Much before the agriculture sciences Indian farmers had tremendous knowledge on the companion cropping system. Farmers were aware of the symbiotics and mutualistic associations of the nature. This is completely mutuliated by the farming systems which is introduced after 1960s.

Farmers need to reminded about their past knowledge systems; but will the farmers remain in the village after this huge explosive growth in Arkavathi catchment area?

Rithesh, Our office SVARAJ is in Malleswaram, think of coming here one day when you are free.

Rithesh's picture

Nagarajavare - thanks

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Nagaraj avare,

Thanks for sharing that with us. Reading it was like a walk into our wonderful past.

I have not had the fortune to witness all this wilderness, but being from the same region - i have heard similar stories from my dad. Can we do anything at all to revive all this - the rivers and the lakes. What can we do? What can i do? How can i help you in your efforts?


zenrainman's picture

Flash floods in Arkavathi

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 Dear Nagraj
Your story was so gripping and so lifelike that it brought the Arkavathi to life for some time though in my mind. I am sure that the work tht you do is with this memory of the Arkavathi and therefore will keep you strong as you find solutions. I only wish that presnt day generation could share experiences like yours and that sensitivity would then translate to more youth coming forward to fight for our rivers. But then we have nothing left as a river for many to see and that is the crime we have committed against our future citizens. 

L.C.nagaraj's picture

Arkavathi basin

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Dear friends,

I have started staying in my farm in Arkavathi river basin. Farm is situated near Mantanakurchi lake, about 7 kms from Thippagondahalli lake tail end. 9 kms from Nelamangala town,35 kms from Indian institute of science.

I am planning to take up alley farming method in about 10 acres and organic food production in 4 acres of land. there are various birds in the farm, so no existing tree can be disturbed. I am thinking of some readable ,good water, soil and biodiversity literacy booklets for the neo literate farmers in the village.

There is a old house in the farm which i am planning to alter to make it more compact for a lonely guy like me to manage it when there is no power.

There is enough bamboo in the farm which will utilised to make small cottages for friends to live. I am fed up with iron,steel and cement; i want the house to be earthly and still comfortable.

i need about 2 years to evolve an alternative crop model with decline in the pumping hours of the aquifers.

I am not really thinking of any NGO model to work with the communities in Arkavathi basin. But i am really concerned that there is hardly any thing available in Kannada language for communities to be aware of the eco crisis the world is going through.

there is a need to work on some small monographs to initiate a discussion among the communities

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