Sunday 14 July 2013

A small step to revive a river

Even as the authorities, particularly our own Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) draws up grandiose plans for rejuvenating the Vrishabhavati, other agencies and organisations already seem to have taken the lead in lending a helping hand.
Bangalore University and the Ramanagar civic agency are among the two agencies that have already taken the lead in cleaning up that portion of the Vrishabhavati that flows in their jurisdiction.
The Vrishabhavati originated near the industrial suburb of Peenya, Bangalore, and flows into the University campus, Mysore Road, before heading to Ramanagar or Ramanagaram district (this was till a few years ago part of Bangalore district).
The University is located on 255 acres and the Vrishabhavati that flows through it is highly toxic and unfit for both human beings and animals. However, the University has already finalised plan to tap the Vrishabhavati to meet at least a part of its water needs.
This plan-to tap the Vrishhabhavati-was discussed and approved at a meeting of the University Syndicate. This plan envisages the use of sewage water by fully treating it and then using it for non-potable purposes.
The university feels that it can reduce its dependence on both Cauvery water and ground water (bore wells) if it can use treated water for a variety of uses. 
The University will be signing a memorandum of understating (MoU) with the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) for utilising the waters of the Vrishabhavati.
The MoU is for obtaining treated water from the 20 MLD (million litres per day) plant across the Vrishabhavati that the board has already installed. Since the board is using only 3 MLD, it is left with a surplus of 17 MLD , which the University hopes to tap, by letting it flow back into the Vrishabhavati.
The water purification unit of  the board is around two and half kilometers from the university campus and the board has to install pipes and dig pits to carry the treated water. The board itself has undertaken to install the pipes. 
It will be the responsibility of the board to pump in 17 MLD into the river and it has to build check dams, dig water harvesting pits and cleaning pits and then let the treated waters into the Vrishabhavati. 
The inflow of fresh water into the river is also expected to recharge the groundwater in and around Bangalore University campus-Jnanabharati. As of now, the quality and quantity of groundwater in Jnanabharati leave much to be desired.
The university campus is one of the biggest botanical reserves in Bangalore along with the UAS and IISc campus. It is home to more than 354 species of plants, shrubs and trees like sandalwood apart from providing shelter to many wildlife, including peacocks, mongoose  wild rabbits, jackals, snakes, scorpions, owls, bats, a variety of  insects and birds.     
The campus also has several water basins, natural channels and barrier walls which become dry in summer. The University plans to use the treated water to revive the organic forest in the campus and also for gardening and other non-potable uses.
Similarly, the Ramanagar district administration has taken steps to clean up the Vrishabhavati that flows in the district.
The Vrishabhavati off Mysore road is so polluted that the water lets out a foul smell and it is this smell that signals that one is approaching Bangalore city.
The Ramanagaram administration decided to take up cleaning of the river after the Karnataka High Court took up the issue of pollution and ordered issue of  notices to all stake holders, including the BWSSB and the State Government among others.
There are several villages in Ramanagar district that are facing the brunt of  pollution of the Vrishabhavati and the polluted water is neither fit for domestic use or even for agriculture.
Villages in the district like Byremangala which has a large lake by the same name where the Vrishabhavati flows, Ramanahalli, Chowkahalli,  Gopahalli Seshagirihalli, Shanamangala, Ittamadu and others are affected due to the polluted river.
Apart from commissioning a private firm from Mysore to submit a detailed report, the Ramanagar administration has also asked the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, Health, Agricultural, Horticulture and Animal Husbandary departments to submit a report after which follow up action would be initiated.
The Ramanagar district administration has decided to set up a water treatment plant at Byremangala lake. Villages surrounding the lake such as Vrishabhavatipura, Bannigere, Anchipure, Maregowdamma Doddi, Thimmegowdamma Doddi are also suffering from the evil of pollution.

The plant, once functional, will ensure that the water of the lake, which was once mainly used for agriculture and even for domestic purposes, are clean and fit for both human consumption and also for agriculture.  

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