Campaign to revive open wells picks up amid water crisis in Bengaluru

‘A Million Wells’, a city-based initiative, has rejuvenated 2.5 lakh wells since it was launched in 2000
Last Updated 02 April 2024, 22:06 IST

A campaign to revive open wells in Bengaluru has come into sharp focus amid the ongoing water crisis. Before piped water and borewells became available, the city’s water needs were met by a network of lakes and open wells.

Titled ‘A Million Wells’, the campaign has reportedly aided in desilting, cleaning and reviving 2.5 lakh wells since it was launched in 2000. Biome Environmental Trust and voluntary citizen network Friends of Lakes are behind the initiative. They have on board 750 traditional well-diggers from the Mannu Vaddar community.

“This year, enquiries about how to set up rainwater harvesting systems and revive wells have shot through the roof. We get 10-12 enquiries from apartments and gated communities almost daily. These are located on the city’s periphery, where people depend on borewells and tankers,” says Vishwanath S, a trustee. He is a water conservationist and urban planner.

Well-diggers, he says, are busy digging new recharge wells and restoring old discharge (withdrawal) wells.

“Recharge wells collect rainwater and push that down to aquifers while discharge wells draw water from the ground,” he explains. 

In the last week alone, Shankar has restored five wells running up to 25 feet deep. These were spread across Domlur, Halasuru, Banashankari, Shivajinagar and Silk Board. Traditional well diggers like him can locate forgotten wells. “These wells can provide 4,000-5,000 litres of water for five families at any given time. I got these enquiries from independent houses and small buildings,” he shares.

Wells located in the proximity of desilted lakes can be revived in a matter of 3-4 days, says Vishwanath. They need to be cleaned and disinfected once a year and desilted in 5-7 years.

Vishwanath shares an example of a neighbourhood that’s benefitting from timely efforts. “An old well was cleaned up in Kanteerava Nagar a month ago. It is supplying water for non-potable use to 500-700 families now. It is part of the Amrut 2.0 Shallow Aquifer Management pilot project by the government of India and the BBMP is implementing that in Bengaluru.”

The project was also carried out in Jakkur, Horamavu, Avalahalli and Nandini Layout and concluded this week. “Reviving wells is not the only solution. But it will surely play a major role in solving the city’s water crisis,” says Vishwanath.

Well-diggers can be contacted via urbanwaters.in/resources

(Published 02 April 2024, 22:06 IST)

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