When all was well in the city

Not long ago, Bangalore was not only self-sufficient in all its needs, but was blessed with abundance too. It had its own water source to quench its residents’ thirst and was left with more to

Published: 13th March 2012 08:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:34 PM   |  A+A-

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Not long ago, Bangalore was not only self-sufficient in all its needs, but was blessed with abundance too. It had its own water source to quench its residents’ thirst and was left with more too. Water from the Thippagondanahalli reservoir gushed out of every tap of every house in every nook and corner of the city. Houses had their own wells too, with the old ones built of stone and the later ones made of cement rings, placed one over the other. People used to draw water from the wells by means of a rope that went over a pulley. The water from the well was generally used for the garden, with the children helping the head of the house to water the flower beds, creepers and tress. Every now and then, an adventurous little fish enters the bucket that has been lowered into the well.

And as the water is emptied into the children’s bucket, the fish is spotted and  there’s a big commotion. The little boy wants to introduce the little guppy to the Angel Fish in his aquarium in the living room. But the elders would have nothing of it and the little lost fish is returned to the well. With wells common in houses, corporation workers made periodic visits with a bucket full of guppies to replenish the fish population.

These little fish helped keep the well free of impurities and larvae. But with the city adding to its population, the number of parched throats increased and the city soon had to look for water elsewhere.

In the 1970s, the city began to pump the Cauvery uphill to quench the city’s thirst. Soon, huge trenches were dug in the beautiful boulevard on Jayanagar’s IV Main to lay huge pipes that brought the Cauvery to Bangalore south. Homes were blessed with abundant, pure water which ran 24/7. Children, after their game in the evening, gulped water straight from the tap. And with the high pressure, water easily reached the second floor cement tank without the assistance of a pump. Underground sumps were unheard of too, since there was no need to store water.

As everyone knows, all this did not last long. The whistle of the fully soaped gentlemen in the shower is drowned out by the shriek from the tap, which, instead of water, is giving out air. He has no water to wash the soap off his body.

To avoid such embarrassments, the residents had to resort to underground sumps and dig bore wells to ensure the taps did not run dry. Now, the city is back to depending upon itself to keep its head above water.

— vijaysimha@newindianexpress.com

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