Bangalore: Ulsoor dig unearthing 1,200-year-old pond

BANGALORE: The excavation site of a kalyani (pond) in Ulsoor is a rather happening place. Not long ago, it was just an encroached patch of craggy land. With 20 feet of earth removed, the ten-day excavation is finally close to uncovering the 1,200-year-old kalyani (pond) closed by the British over a century ago.

Neglected for decades, it’s now the centre of attention of a huge crowd which looks on eagerly through the day. “We knew there was a kalyani but none of us have seen it. The steps around the pond were hidden!’’ an excited Jayanti, who has been living on the same lane for 25 years, told TOI on Thursday.

Even old-timers like Yuvraj, who stays right next to the site, didn’t know about the pond till excavation started at 9.10 am on April 19. “We’re happy that the kalyani is finally in sight. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that the digging doesn’t extend to my house,’’ he said.

There are rumours aplenty of valuable treasures and artefacts being unearthed and that’s drawing people from all over, giving police a tough time. “It’s hard to keep them away. The crowd starts coming in at 8 am and stays patiently till evening. Many women bring their children along and in their excitement, they forget about their kids who wander all over,’’ said an officer.

Temple trustee S Gunashekhar said the excavation has also attracted many outstation visitors. “Many people are coming here from far-off places like Mysore and Tamil Nadu,’’ he said.

BACK IN TIME
There are no records but legend has it that this pond (belonging to the ancient Someshwara temple, the oldest temple in the Mandavya Kshetra) was closed down by the British almost 150 years ago as the tank had dried up.

The excavation struck water at 20 ft and the pond could be at 42 ft. “We don’t have any records about this pond, not even its physical dimensions. We’re eagerly awaiting the findings of the dig based on the survey conducted by the BBMP, muzrai department and Survey of India,’’ V Govindaraj, organising committee president of the temple, told TOI. The rejuvenation exercise is estimated to cost about Rs 4.5 crore.

Some old-timers recall there was a dairy on this plot some time ago but it was shut down in 1992. The cows and a few sheds continued to remain. There was also a small veterinary clinic here, but it faded away over time.

History has it….
There are no records but legend has it that this pond (belonging to the ancient Someshwara temple, the oldest temple in the Mandavya Kshetra) was closed down by the British almost 150 years ago as the tank had dried up. Some old-timers recall there was a dairy on this plot some time ago but it was shut down in 1992

From TOI

Bangalore: Her mission: water for all

BANGALORE: For Sarala Mohan, the newly elected corporator from ward No 114 Agaram, there are several tasks cut out. With most localities housing people from the lower strata of society, Sarala is concentrating on their basic necessities.

For instance, the 750 houses at Dinabandhu Nagar are situated beside a huge drain clogged with garbage. Sewage running in the area overflows into the houses whenever it rains and also contaminates the drinking water line adjacent to the drain.

Residents said they were fed up with the mess and staged a dharna last year blocking Cambridge Road to demand that the authorities act. But nothing moved. Now, the new corporator is giving them some much-needed hope.

Sarala and her husband Mohan got down to business even before the oath-taking ceremony (on April 23), addressing problems of the people.

Sarala who contested from Agaram, an SC (women) ward in Shanthinagar constituency, won over nine other contenders with 3,873 votes. It was a closely fought election with only 43.97% voting, with her namesake, an independent, giving a tough fight. “Mohan and his wife had worked for betterment of the people much before the election. That is what tilted the votes in their favour,’’ said a resident.

Her major worry is overflowing drains. Sarala showed she meant business: clogged drains near Dinabandhunagar are being desilted. “Over the years, thanks to apathy of the people and the authorities, drains have been clogged with garbage leading to numerous problems,’’ said Saravana, a resident.

Apart from drinking water and overflowing drains, Sarala has plans to ensure proper garbage collection as residents, too, are responsible for the pile-up of muck in the drains. She wants to build small houses for the poor in slums with BBMP’s support.

Sarala, though a greenhorn, is confident of bringing sunshine and smiles.

From TOI

Bangalore: Plastic polluters sent packing

L B Shastrinagar RWA discourages plastic and to make it work, distributes cloth bags among residents

If you are a resident of Lal Bahadur Shastri Nagar, be prepared for a knock on the door to remind you that plastic’s not so fantastic.

Uthkarsh, as L B Nagar Association likes to call itself, started off on its rounds three years ago and now plans to start all over again just to remind people. And they don’t stop there – they also distribute cloth bags among residents for a price.

PERSONAL TO PUBLIC

The idea came from two residents who were inspired by a speech. “On January 26, 2007, P Venkatramanan from Indiranagar Residents’ Welfare Association (RISE) gave a speech on the dangers of plastic. That speech really got us thinking and from then, my friend Sarita and I have incorporated the anti-plastic principle at an individual level,” said 36-year-old Trupti Godbole, a member of the Uthkarsh core team that looks at anti-plastic activities.

“When we would go to the grocery shops, we would take our own bags. If we forgot them, we would come back home for the bags, but would never accept plastic bags,” she said.

But after a while, the duo and their team of two, Suresh Kumar and Sujatha Sharma, realised that they had to make other residents aware of the ills of plastic too and thus began the door-to-door campaign.

The campaign also culminated in making cloth that were distributed among residents and put up in neighbourhood grocery shops. “There are 11 apartments in the area like, Kalpatru, Anand Enclave, Itina Abby, Srinidhi Signature and others. We managed to cover eight. We explained how dangerous it was to use plastic and distributed bookmarks that we had made,” said Sarita Kotagiri, an Association member.

Though most residents were aware of the dangers and ready to discard plastic, they were all faced with a standard problem: They needed plastic bags to dispose of their garbage.

“We tried explaining to them that they could line their bins with newspapers and then throw the garbage outside. Many people agreed,” said Sarita.

BAGS GET BETTER

The other problem was the bags. The association would initially get leftover cloth from tailor shops and turn them into bags which they distributed for a paltry sum. The Association for Promotion of Social Action (APSA), where 25-year-old Sarita is a volunteer, agreed to make the cloth bags.

“When there were complaints that residents would forget their bags and end up using plastic, we kept some bags with the security guards in the apartments so that if residents forgot, they could get it from them.”

Soon, people started complaining that the bags were not very comfortable and they did not like carrying them.

“After getting negative feedback, we decided to shift to non-woven fabric bags, that are both eco-friendly and that can be kept in pockets or laptop bags. It can even be washed. We asked residents to give away their old curtains and bedsheets, which we converted to cloth bags and gave to shopkeepers for home delivery,” said Trupti.

By Gayatri Nair from Bangalore Mirror

Bangalore: Tanker water all the way

BANGALORE: The Outer Ring Road is dotted with huge high-rises. These sprawling apartments are not covered by the BWSSB yet, and their borewells are drying.

Not just these apartments. The residents of erstwhile City Municipal Councils (CMCs) are yet to get Cauvery water supply. So they totally depend on private suppliers and shell out as much as Rs 8 lakh per month! In the city, residents pay anything between Rs 600 and Rs 1,000 per month.

Most of the apartment complexes on Sarjapur Road, Bellandur junction area, Bannerghatta Road, Whitefield and Marathalli depend on borewell water. But since these wells go dry, the residents and the management of the complexes turn to private water suppliers. Now with the sweltering heat on, the water scarcity has become more pronounced.

“How can the authorities give clearance to these huge apartments without any surety of water supply? BDA had approved the construction of this apartment on the basis of assurance from BWSSB. We purchased the apartment in 2003. BWSSB had assured to give water in 2004. Till date there is no water. We are on a rocky terrain and so cannot access borewell water. All we can do is buy tanker water. We need 70 to 80 tankers every day to sustain these 550 apartments. We know that the sources of the tanker water might not be reliable. But what do we do?,” questions Raj Ramchandani, management committee member, Springfields apartments near Outer Ring Road.

Presently, he is taking help from the local leaders to drill borewells somewhere close by.

There are other apartments too which rely on borewells. “We depend only on borewell water. The BWSSB water supply does not cover our area. Earlier borewellls would yield adequate water. But in eight years, many apartments have come up leading to less pressure. This means our borewells are drying,” says Ashok Ramaswami, president, RWA, Sobha Garnet, on Sarjapur Road.

They have a rainwater recharge system but not a rainwater storage sump yet. With the BWSSB legislation of mandatory rainwater harvesting coming into place, these apartments will have to pull up their socks soon.

The Sun City is another huge apartment block near Sarjapur Road where water shortage looms. With around 1,300 apartments, the consumption is around 10 lakh litres to 12 lakh litres per day. The building authorities are also worried that people are not paying heed to the looming water disaster.

Adding to their woes is eight to nine hours of power cuts. This has the DG sets running for hours to pump water from borewells. “On some days we have to spend as much as Rs 50,000 on diesel to pump water. And we do not charge for water. You can imagine the financial strain,” he said.

The apartments are looking at alternatives. Sobha Garnet has a groundwater recharge system and specific car washing days and timings and marked days for landscaping and gardening. Sun City has a sewage treatment plant (STP) that recycles around 25,000 litres per day which is then used for watering the garden. The private water suppliers are making a killing. When TOI contacted some water tanker suppliers, they quoted anything between Rs 450 and Rs 600 for one load of water tanker supply. They said each tanker holds approximately 6,500 litres of water and can be used by 80 to 100 people.

If one goes by their claim, an apartment complex housing 1,500 families needs on an average 40 tankers, spending Rs 20,000 on water alone per day. This would in turn cost Rs 6 lakh per month for an apartment complex keeping the prices at minimum.

While BWSSB officials maintain that the Litre Per Capita Demand (LPCD) is about 120 litres and they supply around 120 litres in the city, residents complain that the water supply is not adequate. According to Raj Ramchandani, managing committee member of Springfields apartment complex on Outer Ring Road which is mainly dependent on tanker water supply, the water suppliers have formed unions.

NO LAW

The flourishing water supply business has also led to the indiscriminate drilling of borewells. But the authorities are yet to check the rampant private water supply business or the drilling which contributes to the groundwater depletion. A BWSSB official said: “There is no law to restrict private water tanker supply business.

At most the BBMP health officials can take action against them if they supply unhygienic water. The Karnataka Ground Water (Regulation for protection of drinking water sources) draft bill formulated in 1999 is yet to see the light of the day, the official said. The Act proposes to restrict the drilling of borewells within 500 metres of public water source.

From TOI

A weekend of faith and love

BANGALORE: Long weekends offer a welcome respite from the busy and fast-paced life of the average Bangalorean. The ongoing weekend, that kicked off with Shivaratri and includes Valentine’s Day, is the first long one of the year. Many are headed out to popular tourist spots.

“Gokarna, famous for Om beach and the Mahabaleshwar temple that houses a particularly revered Shivalingam, has witnessed tremendous increase in travel bookings,” KSTDC spokesperson Ratnakar said. “People are also going to Nandi Hills,” he added.

Valentine’s Day is another reason for Bangaloreans to hit popular getaways such as Mysore, Kodagu, Hassan and Chikmagalur. Pondicherry and Chennai are the other popular options. Deepthi, a 20-year-old student, said: “A chance like this is rare and I’d like to make the most of it.”

“Resorts, cottages and guesthouses in these places are seeing heavy bookings, especially by families,” added Ratnakar. The fact that there are no special packages available for the occasion doesn’t seem to make a difference.

Many students are taking a break to visit places like Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary and Bheemeshwari’s Cauvery Fishing Camp. “This weekend is a great opportunity to enjoy a trip outside the city with friends,” said Gaurav, a student of PESIT. He is off to Goa with friends.

Shreya Jain and Aparajita Mridha – TOI