Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In the search of Arkavathy

In the search of Arkavathy


Jayadevan P KFirst Published : 16 Mar 2009 11:35:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 16 Mar 2009 02:13:29 PM IST
BANGALORE: Less than a kilometre from the dusty city bus stand of Dodballapur, is Nagarkere- one among the 150 big and 1,084 small tanks in the course of the dying river Arkavathy.
Over the years, the tank has shrunk in size. The once brimming tank, no longer fills up. More than 10 per cent of the tank, according to local NGOs, has already been encroached upon and some villagers are hopelessly fighting further encroachment.
The story of Hanumanthappa, a villager who lives by the Nagarkere, brings some perspective into the issue. He barely understands terms like urbanisation and rapid industrialisation. But as he recalls his childhood days spent at the banks of Arkavathy, it becomes evident that much has changed- not to his liking, though.
The once full tank was the primary source of water to his house. Drinking, cooking, washing and other household activities were supported with the water from the tank. These days, he buys a pot of water for Rs 2. Stating the obvious, yet forgotten, he says, “It was free before.” “The irony of it all is that I have to buy water though I live right next to the tank,” he says.
In his younger days, he does not remember of a well deeper than 30 feet in the entire command area (151.75 acres) of Nagarkere tank. Water was available at a level of five to 10 feet from the ground.
The wells used to have water even during summer months. Until the 1980s, more than 30,000 wells were present in the Arkavathy basin.
Nowadays, bore wells are as deep as a thousand feet. “Even the bore wells go dry in summers,” he says.
He recalls the drought during the early eighties which lasted for almost seven years. Most wells dried up during that time giving way to bore wells. Soon many industries came up. “They wanted water too,” he says. Dodballapur houses about 50,000 power looms and 80 dyeing units which use up about 2,40,000 liters of water per day in the cottage industry alone. In addition to this, the town has many other industries of a larger scale.“We dug, as if it was a competition.
The more we dug, the deeper we had to dig,” he laments.
According to local activists, the feeder streams, which bring in water into the tank have mostly been encroached or diverted.
Water no longer flows into the tank. This is not only the case of Nagarkere, but also the case of the many other tanks in the Arkavathy basin which has more or less dried up. The river, which was once called a perennial river, hardly flows during most parts of the year.

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