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.

1 comment:

  1. Its really a gud paper every kannadiga bangalorean must read mam