BENGALURU: In another case of a heritage structure being destroyed in the name of development, a kalyani (step well) is set to be completely covered to widen a road and this has left activists aghast. The kalyani is located right on the busy Bannerghatta Road in Gottigere besides the Gali Anjaneya Temple. Large amount of soil has been dumped into the stepwell over the past three days, which has almost completely covered it. Nandish JR, Executive Engineer, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), confirmed to The New Indian Express that as part of the road-widening work, the kalyani would be covered from top and a road would be constructed over it.
“The kalyani lies right on the middle of the road, so we cannot keep it open. The widening work is going on for the past 5-6 months, and the kalyani would be covered in about 15 days,” he said. He added that the kalyani was BBMP’s property.Ram Prasad, co-founder of the group Friends of Lakes, discovered large amount of soil being dumped into the kalyani on Saturday. “When Bengaluru is being predicted to become the next city to run out of water, instead of converting kalyanis into rainwater harvesting structures, BBMP is filling them up. The city’s heritage and culture is being destroyed in the name of development,” he said.
Nagamani R, a resident of Gottigere, said she had heard accounts of residents of Gottigere village using water from the well in the past. About two years ago, the kalyani was in a bad state as it was overgrown with weeds and had been reduced to a dumping pit. Nagamani, along with volunteers from the organisations vSave and Yuva Brigade had cleaned the well twice within a year and restored it.
Lakkappa, the 70-year-old priest of the Anjaneya temple that adjoins the kalyani, said he had seen the kalyani since he was a child. “In the past two years, I have been getting the kalyani cleaned by sweepers at regular intervals. But now I hear they are going to fill it up,” he said, clearly unhappy with the development.
Joint Commissioner Veerabhadra Swamy found out about the situation on Saturday, and expressed helplessness over the situation. “On the one hand we should protect kalyanis as they are a part of our heritage. On the other hand, the project is already underway and the road needs to be widened. If we do not widen the road only at that point it would not serve the purpose,” he said. Ironically, Swamy had intended to develop the kalyani using BBMP funds post the elections.
Additional Chief Secretary (Urban Development) Mahendra Jain was also alerted of the development by citizens on Saturday. “I told the Joint Commissioner (Bommanahalli) that we should try to restore it, but I was not aware of the road-widening work. I will go for a site visit to see what can be done,” he said.