Monday 23 September 2013

Decades later, water in Hesarghatta

This was once part of the famed Vijayanagar Empire and the Vijayanagar Emperor, Achutedeva Raya had commissioned a man made tank here.
The Emperor had constructed an anecut and a bund across a river flowing here. He also built an agrahara or a settlement to house Brahmins and priests. This was sometime in 1532.
Inscriptions dating back to the Vijayanagar period tells us that the anecut was built on the banks of the Arkavathi river and a temple for Chandramoulishwara constructed.
When the Agrahara became populated, it was called Siva Samudra Agrahara.
A few years later, Kempe Gowda, the founder of  Bangalore received this Agrahara and Bangalore along with twelve hoblis from the Vijayanagar Emperor.
Kempe Gowda then went on to form the province of Bangalore and Siva Samudra Agrahara was part of it. Over centuries, the small tank served the water needs of the people, catering to the  domestic and irrigation needs of the area.
During the time of  Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, the Agraha came to be more popularly known as Hesarghatta. During the Wodeyar rule, the small tank was upgraded into a major water supply project.
Recommissioned in 1894, the manmade reservoir was expected to meet the drinking water needs of Bangalore. The credit for this project, called Chamarajendra Water works, goes to the then Diwan of Mysore, Seshadri Iyer and the then Chief Engineer of Mysore State, M.C. Huthcins.
Once the TG Halli became operational, Hesarghatta was neglected and it was in 1994 that it last filled up. Since then, there has not been any water in the vast lake except in a few patches.
Thankfully, this year has seen copious rains in Karnataka and other parts of the country. The rains have led to the Hesraghatta Lake showing signs of revival and today it holds around eight feet of water. This may not mean much as the reservoir can hold upto thirty five feet of water but the fact that water has started flowing indicates that the water body, one given up for dead, can be revived.
If the State Government and the authorities are serious about ensuring that the water once again continues to flow into the reservoir, they have to clear the encroachments, repair the infrastructure in and round the reservoir, revive the water source and clear the water channels.   
The total catchment area draining into the reservoir is 73.84 km2 (2189 mi2), out of which the direct draining catchment is 2.68 km2 (6.86 sq mi2). There are 184 tanks built in the Arkavathy river basin upstream of the Hesaraghatta. These needs to be revived.
The Arkavaty originates in the Nandi Hills in Chikaballapur district and it joins the Cauvery in Kanakapura after flowing through Kolar and Bangalore rural districts. The Vrishabhavaty and the Suvarnamukhi are the tributaries which drain part of Bangalore and Anekal taluks into the Arkavati River.
All these needs to be taken into consideration for reviving the Hesarghatta.
By the way, there is a Government plan to pump water from Ethinahole to the Hesarghatta and TG Halli reservoirs. This is the plan of the Urban Development Department.
These two reservoirs were Bangalore’s major source of drinking water until the Cauvery project was implemented in 1971.
The Urban Development Department wants to go ahead with the project and the Water Resources Department has agreed to give 2.5 tmcft of water from Ethinahole. This water would be pumped to TG Halli and Hesaraghatta lakes, be treated and then it will be pumped to the city.
For this to be effective, Hesaraghatta  has to be restored before water is pumped into it. The water holding, pumping and supply infrastructure in Hesarghatta has not been used since 1986.
When Hesarghatta supplied water, it was initially taken by gravity through a 1.4 m dia (42" dia) Hume pipe to the Soladevanahalli pumping station. Water was then pumped, initially using steam pumps and later electric pumps, to the Combined Jewel Filters (CJF) plant at Malleswaram  for treatment and supply.
The pipes must have rusted and broken down at some places. There is need to repair the existing pipes and also lay new ones if the Urban Development Department wants to reuse the Hesarghatta for water supply.
The department scheme envisages pumping water from the west-bound Ethinahole river through canals to a collection centre near Sakaleshpura. From there, the water would be allowed to flow in an open canal till Tumkur and the BWSSB will pump the water to TG Halli and Hesaraghatta reservoir from there.
At present, 19 tmcft of water has been allocated from the Cauvery and the BWSSB has the capacity to supply 1,400 MLD of water from all the five Cauvery drinking water projects. The available water is expected to meet the city’s demand till 2015

Is the water in Hesarghatta a sign for urban planners that all is not lost and that there is still hope for reviving the lakes and water bodies in and around Bangalore. The answer is yes and it is high time that the Government and urban planners launched along term plan involving people, Government agencies and NGOs to bring back water naturally to habitations. 

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