Let’s send some rainwater to our lakes in Bengaluru

Stormwater drain completely covered by leaves and mud. Pic: Srinivas Alavilli

“A city will not die so long as its citizens do not give up.” – Ashwin Mahesh, Urban expert

I am sure none of us wants to give up on namma Bengaluru. We love it. We are immensely proud of our beautiful city – resident’s pride and neighbors’ envy for all the global brand recognition!  More than a crore of us call it home. It was once called ‘pensioners paradise’ but today it is the paradise for the best and brightest to pursue innovation. We are not about to give up on anything that easily. At last count 700 people are still moving in every day!

What is a stormwater drain?

Bengaluru has an extensive network of storm water drains, about 800 kms long throughout the city. BBMP has an entire department for storm water drains with a Chief Engineer and engineers and staff in every single ward. The primary ones i.e. Rajakaluves are wide and full of sewer and the secondary ones are right in front of your homes. Our city had 4000 lakes at some point of time and these drains are designed such that the rain water collects in these lakes and cascades to others. According to recent reports, hardly 120 lakes exist as of today, that too thanks to everyday heroes that don’t let them die.

How about giving some love back to our city? How about stopping these obituary reports?

It is that time of the year again. As we get ready to say goodbye to the scorching summer, the pre monsoon showers bring back the beauty spots on our roads. In a few weeks we will see flooding and the gut-wrenching stink of the sewer all around us.

Did you ever wonder why the flooding happens?  I’m not talking about cyclonic monsoon rains like in Chennai, mind you! Even a couple of hours of showers cause flooding in many areas, we’ve seen it. Some of us drive past it; some of us have no choice but live with it, wondering where our taxes went.

The gurus assert that the primary reason is that the storm water drains [canals to store and channelize rain water], are not in good shape. They are encroached upon, blocked or simply broken. All of us can see it. Everywhere.  [see photos attached]

Wait! That is just half the problem though.

The other half is that the rainwater that feeds the lakes and the precious water table simply drains off into sewerage and is lost forever! A report from Center for Public Problem Solving (CPPS) asserts that harvesting just 10% of rainwater in Bengaluru Metro Region will increase water supply in the region by nearly 100%! In other words, we have enough water, we need to catch it!

N S Mukunda, well known civic leader and indefatigable water warrior (Watch ‘Niranthara Neeru) is convinced that we can completely eliminate tankers and provide certain amount of water, free for every household, if we act.

It is common knowledge that we get our water from Cauvery, and we have already tapped it to its maximum. Many communities survive only tanker water. There is simply not enough water. Imagine the situation five years from now. That’s where the obituary reports are coming from! We have no choice but to find more water, right here, right now.

So, I call upon the real heroes of namma ooru, YOU and every other ordinary citizen that cares, inspiring groups of garbage warriors, lake revivalists, environment activists, and the selfless volunteers of The Ugly Indians, Youth for Parivartan, Volunteer for a Cause, organizations like the CAF, the Namma Bengaluru Foundation, the B.PAC, CMCA, CIVIC and the hundreds of RWAs across the city willing to roll up their sleeves to get involved.

Let us all give the next few weeks for water. These few weeks are critical before the monsoon.

We can do three things:

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  1. Get the secondary storm water drains that take rain water into our lakes cleared, with BBMP help. Wherever we have lakes, we must prioritise the areas around them and allow rainwater to reach the lake. We can do this by involving local residents, especially around the ‘saved’ lakes.
  2. Where there are no lakes, we can make a big difference by clearing the drains and digging harvest pits in strategic locations. Instead of taking the rainwater away, the storm water drains can be used to charge the groundwater.  
  3. Aggregate the information available with all of us and map the low-lying areas that are prone to flooding every year. Most of the slums and areas around lakes get flooded. We must address these first and foremost.

While this three-point agenda may leave you with an impression that is easier said than done, think about all those black spots that disappeared. Think about those lakes that brought back those birds. Think Cycle Days and Open Streets! When citizens do not give up, magic happens!

Technically, all this work should be done by the city government: BBMP. They seem to be doing something or the other every year with hundreds of crores of your hard earned tax money. Your property tax, road tax and hundred other taxes besides the income tax! The results of their work speak loud and clear (and often, stink) and unfortunately, does not make us proud of our city.

By citizens actively engaging by rolling up their sleeves, we not only prepare our neighborhoods for the monsoon and increase our water table, we will also put enormous pressure on the “system” to get its act together. We will work along with the local corporators and the ward committees. They will respond, if not out of responsibility but for self preservation. A lot can be done if every RWA and volunteer group can gather a few volunteers and give half a day for the next four weekends.

We all know that citizen apathy is a slippery slope. Once someone crosses a red light with no punishment, many others follow, guilt-free. Let us apply this logic in reverse and get more people involved by our positive actions. Perhaps we can get our Mayor and City Minister to take notice. Perhaps the media will find this useful and ask the right questions on behalf of us in the corridors of power and get more people to join!

Contacts of BBMP storm water drain section

The storm water drain section is situated in Jayanagar. Contact them when you see water overflowing on to the road from the roadside rainwater drains, or water not going into the drains.

Chief Engineer (Storm Water Drain), 9th Floor, Jayanagar
Shopping Complex, 4th Block Jayanagar, Bangalore-560011.
Office Phone Numbers:- 080-22441077/76, 080-26541695.
Email: ceswd.bbmp2011@gmail.com

Name

Designation

Number

H.C.Ananthaswamy

Chief Engineer

9880201881

Technical Assistants

D.S.Suryanarayan

Technical Assistant – I

9480683440
9448868340

G.T.Muniswamappa

Technical Assistant – II

9480685391

Raghu

Junior Engineer

7760635163

Yelahanka

R.Narasimha murthy

E.E (Yalahanka)

9449323519
9480685891

Prakash.H

A E E

9480685982
9448731939

Abdul Wahab

A E E

9480684116

R.Venkatesh

A E

990284114

Dasarahalli

R.Natesh Babu

E E

9448069647

M.K.Venkatesh

A.E.E

9480685445

Mahadevapura

Malathi

E E

9480683015

Panduranga

A.E E

9448504504

Vaalu Rathod

A.E E

9845409339

Raghavendra 

J E

9845836139

Bommanahalli

Shashidhar.V.H.H

E E

9480685318

D.S.Suryanarayan

A E E

9480683440
9448868340

S.N.Srilakshmi

A.E

9844254135

R.G.Hegde

A.E

9986294564

Rajarajeswari Nagara

Kantegowda

E  E

9480683668

Hanumanthegowda

A.E E

9480685282

Krishnegowda

A.E

9538622856

East

R.Narasimhamurthy

E E

9449323519
9480685981

Basavarajappa

A.E E

9448154988

Chennakeshava

A.E E

9845341340

R.Venkatesh

A.E

9902841114

West

R.NateshBabu

E.E

9448069647

Shivprasad

A.E E

9739094360

Rangaraju

A.E

9448143426

K.M.Indrani

A.E

9964499392

D.A.Narasimaiah

A.E

9480683636

South

S.Manjunath Reddy

E E

9480684064

K.AbdulWahab

A.E E

9480684116

Prabhakar

A.E E

9844980365

Kumari. Manuja

A.E

9900620257

K.M.Indrani

A.E

9964499392

Koramangala Valley

R.Narasimhamurthy

E.E

9449323519
9480685981

Renuka Swadi

A.E.E

9480685981

H.M.Roshan Ali Khan

A.E

9845025589

About Srinivas Alavilli 5 Articles
Srinivas Alavilli believes that our governance will get better if more ordinary people get involved in a visible way. For too long, we have been mute spectators and we are now paying the price. Srinivas is passionate about bringing people together in new and effective ways to aggregate the voice loud enough that #PeoplePower can be heard loud and clear in the power corridors. Srinivas is one of the founding members of Citizens for Bengaluru that fought successfully against the proposed steel flyover project with the #SteelFlyoverBeda citizen movement. From being called 'beda brigade' CfB moved into 'Beku' mode, with #ChukuBukuBeku (local trains) and #BusBhagyaBeku (city bus) in an effort to make public transport a priority for our policy makers and more and more citizens demand it. In the past, Srinivas was one of the founders of Corruption Saaku! an anti corruption movemend that led to the India Against Corruption (IAC) and actively campaigned for new age candidates in local and state elections contesting on Loksatta Party. Apart from civic issues that he is currently deeply engaged in, Srinivas is passionate about fixing malnutrition and education as he believes that creating equal opportunities and a level playing field is a duty that all of us must take seriously.

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