In Frames | Rise of the rivers

In Frames | Rise of the rivers


Several long-forgotten, destroyed waterbodies in Bengaluru have a rebirth with the recent unprecedented heavy rain

Several long-forgotten, destroyed waterbodies in Bengaluru have a rebirth with the recent unprecedented heavy rain

Bringing Cauvery water from afar in pipes for domestic consumption in Bengaluru is like “looking for ghee while butter is on your palm”, B.N. Umesh, a pharmacist, says citing a Kannada proverb to imply how the city is looking for distant sources of water while letting its rivers go to seed. He got thinking on these lines as the recent rain submerged vast areas of Bengaluru and has, at least for a short time, brought back to life many of its rivers that have been presumed “dead”.

The Vrishabhavathi, for instance, was in spate during the days-long downpour. The Arkavathy’s tributary, which partly flows through the city, had carried nothing but sewage and industrial pollutants in recent years. Facing similar problems are the Arkavathy itself, which originates in the Nandi Hills along with the Vrishabhavathi and travels 35 km to join the Cauvery, and the Kanva, which takes birth at Magadi, traverses 55 km to join the Shimsha, which too merges with the Cauvery.

These small tributaries once flourished and people in the region use their water for daily needs and agriculture, says Rame Gowda, a farmer who now uses borewell water as the Arkavathy is polluted. He says domestic animals refuse to drink from these rivers as the water smells terrible with the industrial waste dumped. Kumar, 30, of Shanbhoganahalli, near Channapatna, remembers his childhood days when he used to play in Seetha Thore, a stream that joins the Kanva. But as he grew older, both the stream and the river “vanished” and the riverbed became a convenient place for dumping garbage.

After the recent rain, the Arakavathy and the Kanva got back their glory, though ephemerally. But ironically, it hardly helped the likes of Rame Gowda. As waters flooded the fields in this drought-prone area, crops were destroyed, pouring misery on farmers. And Umesh’s idea of tapping these local resources for local needs is lost in the constant rush for big and expensive projects.