Thursday 28 August 2014

Filing up a City's hopes

It was more two decades ago that this vast reservoir filled up. Built by the Wodeyars, it last filled up in 1992. It almost reached full capacity in 1999. But since then, this water body, once the lifeline of Bangalore, has only been able to hold varying levels of water but it has never been able to supply water regularly.
This is the Tippegondanahalli reservoir across river Arkavathy, which was built in 1933 after the Hesarghata reservoir dried up. For the last few years, the TG Halli, as it also called, has never had enough water.
TG Halli has been in the news in the last few days as  the water level in it has been steadily going up, thanks to copious rains in the catchment areas.
The TG Halli once supplied drinking water to areas in the west of the city, but encroachment of lakes, growing urbanisation and rapid expansion of the city have seen storage levels plummet.
The last time the reservoir was filled was in 1992 and after that the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), which operates the TG Halli, gave up pumping water and shifted focus entirely on Cauvery water supply to Bangalore.
BWSSB officials are hoping that the water level in TG Halli rises further. Last Monday, saw TG Halli hold 26 feet of water and this is encouraging as last year at the same time, the water level stood at 17 feet.
Since Karnataka received good rains in September and October, the BWSSB hopes that the water level would go up further.
Constructed at the confluence of the Arkavathi and the Kumudvati rivers, TG Halli has a depth of 74 ft and its total storage capacity is 3 tmc ft. Officials say heavy rain in catchment areas like Doddaballapur (which recently recorded 11 cm of rainfall) has seen the water levels in the reservoir rise.
The BWSSB is not pumping any water from TG Halli though if need be it can pump about  350 mld. However, the water board wants to keep TG Halli supply as stand by.
If it was the then Dewan of Mysore, K Seshadri Iyer, who conceived of Hesarghatta reservoir, it was another Dewan-Sir M. Visvesvaraiah- who recommend TG Halli as a means to ease Bangalore’s growing thirst for water.
When Hesarghatta proved insufficient to meet the water needs and it went dry 1925, TG Halli was commissioned in 1933.
The first stage of TG Halli was designed to provide a daily supply of 27mld of water for a city's population of 3 lakh, but this too soon proved inadequate. The reservoir was once again deepened and the water works modified to cater to the population of one million in 1956..

However, with the city's population growing by leaps and bounds and the water proving inadequate, the State Government decided to supply water from the Cauvery. In 1964, the Government approved the first stage of the Cauvery Water Supply Scheme (CWSS). Five stages of CWSS have proved insufficient and the government is now looking at alternatives to boost daily water supply as the City currently faces a shortage of 225 million litres of water per day (mld).
This shortage is expected to go up by 1030 mld in 2036. BWSSB is thinking of supplying water from the Krishna and it has drawn up several other schemes but the best bet would be to revive the Hesarghatta and TG Halli reservoirs.
If the TG Halli lake has to be revived, the catchment areas of Devanahalli, Doddaballapur, Magadi and Nelamangala in Bangalore Rural and Ramanagra districts have to be cleared of encroachments and the lakes and tanks restored as they form a vital part of the regeneration programme. Fortunately, all thee areas have so far received good rainfall and the inflow to TG halli has been steadily rising. Usually, the reservoir starts filling up in September, October and November.
 In the last seven years, the water level had not gone up beyond 43 ft. If it fills up, Bangalore can get at least 135 million litres of drinking water every day.
Not many remember that till 1980, TG Halli  was one of the main sources of drinking water to the city and it supplied water to Bangalore West including the localities of Rajajinagar, Sunkadakatte and Vijayanagar. It was in 2012 that the BWSSB finally gave up on TG Halli and discontinued supply of water from it.
One of the many options that the BWSSB is now planning for TG Halli is to recharge the reservoir and the Arkavathy surface water source, by using treated sewage from the  Koramangala and Challaghatta valley (K&C) waste water treatment plant.
The project proposes to divert the treated water to Nandi Hills which would flow into various lakes located downstream and ultimately to the TG Halli reservoir.
It involves construction of  four centrifugal pumps from K&C Valley till Nandi Hills and construction of a ground-level reservoir (GLR) at the foot of the hills. The proposed plan is to pump 200 mld of treated sewage using the centrifugal pumps, each having 50 mld capacity to an elevation of 980 metres into the proposed ground level reservoir.
The treated water would then be pumped using booster pumps to the identified hill surface facing the TG Halli catchment area. The water would be sent to tanks and lakes along TG Halli which would ultimately get filled.

The cost was estimated in 2005 at Rs 415 crore. Today, it needs at least a hundred crores more to take up this project, which also requires an annual  operation and maintenance cost of Rs 80 crore.
Apart from this step, the State and the BWSSB have to tackle the issue of   unplanned development, encroachment of catchment areas, altered drainage system, quarrying, denudation of forests and other related urban issues.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Older than the temple

Srirangapatna, the erstwhile capital of Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan, has a history dating back to the New Stone Age. But very few of the thousands of visitors and pilgrims who come to this island town are aware of this fact.
The New Stone Age is also called the Neolithic Age and it was a period of human development and technology.
It began sometime in 10,200 BC and ended between 4500 BC and 2000 BC. In south India, the Neolithic period began in 3000 BC and continued till about 1400 BC. The age in Karnataka is characterised by ashmounds.
Robert Bruce Foot (1834 -1912), a British geologist and archaeologist, discovered the first conclusive Paleolitic stone tool (a hand axe) in Pallavaram near Madras. He then along with William King went on to discover more such tools and settlements in South and West India, including Srirangapatna. He is, therefore, often considered as the Father of Indian prehistory.
In 1884 he discovered the 3.5 kilometres (2.2 miles) long Belum caves, the second largest cave in the Indian subcontinent. Foote spent 33 years, starting as a youth at the age of 24, working for the geological survey.
Foote's father-in-law was the Rev. Peter Percival, missionary, linguist and a pioneering educator of Sri Lanka and South India. Foot’s grandson, Major General Henry Robert Bowreman Foote, was awarded the Victoria Cross during the second Word war.
Coming back to Srirangapatna, other archaeologists have discovered some stone tools such as an axe, hammer and other antiquities of the new stone age culture.
In 1984, Dr C. Mahadeva discovered stone tools such as bone, Ardha chandra and a chopping splinter belonging to the microlithic age. It is significant that these tools are made out of jasper, chert and other stone materials.
The discovery of many microlithic weapons in the area has led archaeologists and historians to believe that this must have been a factory site. Historians have discovered stone age settlements in Pandavapura, Kuntibetta and Srirangapatna. Some remnants of the stone age culture have been found at Hangarahalli
and Ranganathittu on the banks of Cauvery, (Srirangapatna taluk); Maralahalli, Belakawadi, Muttatti, Halagur (Malavalli taluk) Kuntibetta, near Pandavapura and Sanabakoppalu in Pandavapura taluk.
The findings suggest that the population density in this part was very thin. The stone age man who lived around thick forests, river valleys.
Srirangapatna was originally built by Udayaditya, the brother of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana, in 1120 AD. It soon became an important agrahara during the Hoysala period. In 1454, Timmana Dannayaka, a local chief of Nagamangala, obtained permission from the Vijayanagara king Praudadeva Raya, and built a fort at Srirangapatna. Soon, the Vijaayanagar rulers mde Srirangapatna their provincial capital. 
This fort was captured by Raja Wodeyars from the Vijayanagar Viceroy, Tirumala, in 1610 and it later fell into the hands of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan.
The fort was destroyed in May 1799 in the fourth and final Anglo-Mysore war. After the death of Tipu in 1799 A.D., Srirangapatna lost its glory as the Wodeyars shifted the capital to Mysore.
Since the island is home to the first of the three Ranganatha shrines on the banks of the river Cauvery, it is also known as Adi Ranga. As it is located to the west of Srirangam (in Tamil Nadu), it is also called as Paschima Ranganatha Kshetra.
Several inscriptions belonging to the Gangas (2), Hoysalas (2), Vijayanagars (12), Wodeyars of Mysore (15) Hyder-Tipu (14) and others (22) have been found here. Among them, four are in Tamil, 36 in Kannada, eight in Sanskrit, 14 in Persian and two each in Telugu and English.

Thus we see that Srirangapatna has much more to offer than the Ranganatha Swamy Temple and the monuments belonging to the Hyder Ali-Tipu era. A student of  history and archaeology would be interested in the ancient history of the island which is older than the ancient and hoary temple of Ranganatha.

Sunday 24 August 2014

A forgotten philanthropist

What does a maternity hospital, a road, temple structure and a lake have in common. Of course, all but one of them are in Bangalore but that is not the point of similarity.
All these structures were built by one person more than a hundred years ago. But today, neither the man nor his contribution to the then small village of Bangalore is even remembered. If the road after which bears his name is a busy thoroughfare in a small town  seventy kilometers away from Bangalore, the lake which is part of the City is a cesspool of sewage and untreated water. People living around the lake tend to curse it more than seeing it as a lifeline.
Once home to hundreds of migratory birds and also small wildlife, it is now one of the most encroached water bodies in Bangalore. And to think it once supplied water to the parched residents of Bangalore.
The temple structure that he built still stands. Though the temple is one of the landmarks of Bangalore, he is rarely, if ever, remembered for it. The maternity hospital he built so that poor and needy residents to get modern care is better known by its initials and even doctors and patients rarely pause to spare a thought for the man who so generously donated money for the construction of the building.
The man who built all these is none other than Yele Mallappa Shetty, a rich merchant of Bangalore who lived in the 19th century. A philanthropist, he is entirely responsible for constructing the Elemarappakere which is also known as Yele Mallappa Shetty Kere or lake.
This water body is near KR Puram or Krishnarajapuram on Hoskote Road. It was entirely built by Shetty in 1890 and the  entire money for the project came from his own funds.
Bangalore in 1890 was in the grip of a severe water scarcity. The existing lakes and ponds had dried up and the British Government and the Mysore Kingdom were making all out efforts to meet the challenge of providing water to the parched residents.
While Sankey conceived what  is now called the Sankey lake in Bangalore, Shetty too hit upon the idea of providing a water body in K.R. Puram. He saw people suffering due to lack of water and choose the spot after a great deal of research and planning. Thus was born the huge Yele Mallappa Shetty Kere or lake
The lake served as a lifeline for people living in its vicinity. Soon, it also began supplying water to Bangalore. This even as Sankey tank was being built and other water works were being commissioned by the Mysore Government and also the British.
 Today, realms is written about Sankey and others but there is not a mention of Shetty who was a rich areca merchant involved in taking up developmental works. A philanthrophist, Shetty was also involved in constructing the temple structure around the historic Kadu Malleswara Temple in Malleswaram.
Sadly, while historians and others wax eloquent about the association of Shahaji, the father of Shivaji, with the Kadu Malleswara temple, they fail to even mention Shetty and his contribution. Incidentally, the structure funded by Shetty came to be completed sometime in  1900.
Shetty also built a maternity hospital, which today is called Yele Mallappa Shetty's Maternity Hospital. Not many know that this is one of the oldest hospitals of its kind in Bangalore and that it was built in 1879.
Supposedly belonging to the Lingayat community, there is a road named after him in Bangarpet town of Kolar district. The mining town of Bangarpet was earlier known as Bowringpet. It is about 71 kms from Bangalore.
Coming back to the lake, it once occupied more than 300 acres in area. Today it is about 260 acres and it is home to a variety of migratory birds. Wildlife photographers have sighted more than 38 species of migratory birds and recorded 28 of them. The Golden oriole, northern shoveler, green bee eater, bulbul, pied kingfisher, egrets, Eurasian coot are spotted in the water body frequently.
This is also one of the largest fresh water lake in north east Bangalore  and  its watershed is spread over in an area of 287 km2. It forms part of the  Hebbal and Rachenahalli valley.
Unfortunately, the lake and its surroundings are host to a variety of industries and establishments such as  stone crushers, asphalt manufacturing units, factories, brick manufacturing, dumpsite, fodder industry, garages, solar cell factory, steel warehouse and even agricultural lands.
Layouts and educational and commercial centres around the lake and increased urban activity have almost killed the lake.  

There are studies to this effect by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and by Bangalore University.