Thursday 28 February 2013

Hutchins and Hesarghatta

Bangalore is fortunate in the sense that many of the roads and localities still bear the name of persons who lived and worked for the development of the city and its surroundings.
Many of then are either are British or of British origin and a fee like Krumbeigal are German. One such person is Hutchins in whose honor a road is named in Bangalore,
The Hutchins road is perpendicular to Pottery road and is in Banaswadi. This road was in honor of the person who was responsible for the construction of the Hesarghatta lake in Bangalore more than a hundred years ago.
The Hesarghatta lake is a manmade reservoir located 18 km to the north-west of Bangalore city. The lake was created by Hutchins in 1894 across the Arkavathy river to meet the drinking water needs of the city.
It was the then Dewan of Mysore, Sir K. Seshadri Iyer, who conceived the idea of providing the growing city of Bangalore with a  permanent source of drinking water.
The then chief engineer of Mysore State was M. C. Hutchins. Both Iyer and Hutchins planned the Chamarajendra Water Works as a reservoir to store three-years' water supply to Bangalore.
This is how Hesarghatta lake was born and it catered to the needs of the people till the mid 1900s.
Hutchins chose Hesarghatta after surveying several places in and around Bangalore, he zeroed in on Hesarghatta because it was ideally located.
Hesarghatta was located on the banks of the Arkavati, whose origin is in Nandi Hills and joins the Cauvery at Sangam near Mekudatu.
The lake comprises a dam which is an earthen bund, 40.55 metres in height and with a storage capacity of 997 mcft. The project cost:  Rs 20,78,641: incredible is it not.
A brick aqueduct brought water from the Hesarghatta to Turabanahalli. The water here was filtered and chlorinated. It was then sent to Soladevanahalli reservoir from where steam pumps were pumped water to Chimney Hills.
Water from the Chimney Hills flowed  to the Jewel Filters at Malleswaram and was then distributed to the entire city.
Water from Hesarghatta was pumped into homes in both City and Civil and Military Station (Cantonment) in mid 1896. Until the Tippagondanahalli (TG Halli) tank was constructed in 1933, Hesarghatta continued to be the main source.
The reservoir and dam supplied 36 million litres of water every day to the then Bangalore city.
Even today, we can find Hume pipes on the road to Hesarghatta. The pumping station at Soledevanahalli too is still standing, a mute testimony to the engineering skills of a bygone era.
Until the first Cauvery water supply project was commissioned in 1974, Hesarghatta reservoir and Tippagondanahalli dam (TG Halli dam) were the main source of water for Bangalore.
The water supply scheme worked perfectly from 1894 to 1933. Then the problems began. The water levels began steadily dipping and the catchment area decreased and in 1986, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board stopped using water from the Hesarghatta reservoir to meet demands of the city.
Today, the reservoir is bone dry and residents of villages around the lake have to rely on water supplied by tankers. What an irony.
Experts say that Bangalore would have been spared its water woes  had the catchment area been kept alive.
Today, the channels leading to the lake and even the catchment area has been encroached. Apart from Hesarghatta, more than one hundred smaller tanks on the course of Arkavathy have run dry.  Bangalore now depends only on Cauvery and TG Halli for its water needs.
However, the vast grasslands of the lake and its tank bed are him to nearly 150 species of birds and small animals.
Today, the residents of  Bangalore have forgotten both the Hessarghatta tank and the man behind its construction. The road too is known by the name and very few people are aware of the Hutchins who designed Bangalore’s first modern water supply system.    
Hutchins Road today lies  east of city centre and it still possesses a few quaint British style bungalows. It is also one of the major roads of Cooke Town.
The last I read of this road was really ironical. More than 50 houses on this road were left with no water supply for more than an year. This was unbelievable but true. Imagine, residents of the area after whom Bangalore’s first water works were named had to suffer such a shortage.
The funny thing is that all the fifty houses were being regularly sent water bills though there was no water supply. This is the best example of shining India.

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