Too many borewells are the bane for traditional stepwells

Too many borewells are the bane for traditional stepwells

Heritage lost

Stepwells are elaborate architectural constructions built within the earth’s surface. The earliest stepwells date from the seventh century. True to the concept of mandala stepwells were square in form. In essence inverted pyramids, the concentric square forms decreased in size as they descended into the earth’s surface. Heritage stepwells are found in many parts of Karnataka including heritage stepwells in Lakkundi and Hampi.

Stone-stepped wells

Stone stepwells are found in E Thimmsandra, Halehalli and surrounding areas in Shidlaghatta taluk. People have stopped sinking traditional type of wells since the last 40 years.

In the past during the summer season it was quite common to see people engaged in the digging of wells with at least 10 to 15 men and 20 to 25 women engaged as labourers.

After the advent of borewell drilling machines, the digging of wells has stopped, say the villagers.

The digging and construction of wells, which were used mainly for irrigation, was an art with the use of stones which were neatly laid to form walls and steps.

The farmers and labourers who worked in the fields used the well water to wash and refresh themselves and children used them as a pool to swim and play during holidays. The water was also used for cattle.

Initially borewells were sunk by rich people, later even others sunk borwells with money borrowed for the purpose. Most borewells were found in the villages of Mellur and Mallur.
Even those who possessed half and acre of land went for borewells with motors leading to the depletion of the water table, says a local resident.

Initially was was manually lifted from the wells later the Persian wheel was used.

The Persian wheel is an ox-driven pump where the ox walks in circles around a central drive shaft which turns a wheel that raises water via a chain of buckets from the
well.

In comparison to pumpsets, all these methods of drawing water resulted in optimum and judicious use of water.

After the advent of borwells and the use of submersible pumps, water was pumped to the last drop from the very depths of mother earth. People used power for this and when power failed, the stuggled for water. Fluoride was added to the borewell water leading to illness.

In Halehalli, the stone well fulfilled the drinking water requirements of the village 60 years ago. The water was not used for any other purpose. Over time with the depletion of the water table the water in the well declined.

With the coming of borewells, these stonewells were neglected. Now people have become slaves to borewells. The borewell water has fluoride content. If this water is kept in a vessel, there will be sediments settling at the bottom.

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