Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Ooru Neeru

Ooru neeru event was organized by Bangalore City Project an NGO involved in raising awareness about the cultural infrastructure of Bangalore. This was the 4th such event organized by BCP. I didn’t know of the first two and I was late for the 3rd one (they accept limited number of participants for each event).

Ooru neeru event was also coordinated by Rainwater Club, an NGO working on water conservation. It was a guided tour of India’s first piped drinking water supply project. The main locations that we visited were Hessargatta lake, Turubanahalli and Soldevanahalli. Ooru neeru translates to city water.

Arkavathy River
Hessargatta Lake is one of the 178-180 lakes feed by the Arkavathi River. The river has its origins in the Nandi Hills range and eventually joins the Cauvery River. Until a few years back it used to flow for more than nine months in an year, filling up all the lakes on it path. The other prominent lake that also happens to be in its path is the Thipegondanhalli lake (T.G.Halli). Arkavathi River is now completely dried up.

Hessargatta Lake
Hessargatta Lake is a man made lake built in the year 1532. It was latter expanded in 1894 to supply water to Bangalore city. Two villages (one of them Hessargatta Village itself) was moved to a different location for expanding this lake – the remains of which can now be found in the lake bed. Hessargatta Lake along with two other small lakes Byatha Lake and Kakola Lake has a total water storage capacity of 1.1 TMC of water. The lake is around 4000 acers and surrounded by state and central government agencies – the main reason to have survived the land sharks. Unfortunately except for the water in a small 1000 sqft pond on the lake bed, there is not a single drop of water. This lake was completely filled for the last time in 1988 and it has been almost dry from 1994. Some of the older generation people who were there talked about the vast, grandeur, beauty of the lake when it was full of water. I am sure it would have been a sight to behold.
An interesting structure to watch out for in the lake is Saddle Siphon. As the water in the lake reached its maximum level, it used to flow into the siphon. Due to the structure of the siphon a vacuum was created inside it, as a result more water was sucked in and released downstream. The siphon pumped out water from the lake at a rate 5 times more than the normal flow of water. This effectively maintained the water lever in the lake and prevented the flooding of the surrounding areas.

Soldevanahalli and Turabanahalli
Soldevanahalli is India’s oldest pumping station. Bangalore apart from being the first city to be electrified was also the first city to get piped water. On 7th august 1986, water was pumped for the first time from Soldevanahalli to Bangalore (Malleshwaram water treatment plant). Water from Hessargatta Lake flowed to Soldevanahalli via Turubanahalli due to gravity. There are still remnants (90% of this has now been destroyed) of the Roman style water ducts that brought water from the Lake to Soldevanahalli. The water duct was latter replaced with a pipeline. From Sodevanahalli it was then pumped by steam powered pumps initially and then with electric pumps to Bengaluru. There were totally 4 pumps (3 active and 1 standby) that were used. Each of these pumps was a 250 HP pump with a 15 inch input pipes. The pumps and the pipes can still be seen in the station. Initially two pumps that were used to supply water to the military establishments and residences in Bengaluru. Latter on a third pump was added to cater to the industrial need (HMT and BHEL were the main consumers) of Bengaluru.

Water Conservation
Some of many reasons that lead to the drying up of Arkavathi River and then the Hessargatta Lake are - rapid urbanization, deforestation, granite quarrying, sand mining and over exploitation of ground water.
Urbanization and deforestation go hand in hand. As a result of urbanization, the forest cover around Dodaballapur and the Nandi Hills region drastically came down. This used to be the catchment area for the river and subsequently to the lakes in its path.
Sand mining (which is now finally banned in the whole of Kolar district) is another main reason for the rivers to dry up. The presence of sand in the river bed prevents the flow off (avoiding flash floods) of the water and helps in replenishment of ground water. The sand prevents the spreading out of water and effectively reduces losses due to vaporization. Almost all the river beds in Kolar district have been cleared of Sand. Even after the ban, illegal mining is still very rampant.
The drilling of bore wells has had a cascading effect on the drying up of the lake. Water table which was once as high as 70 feet is now more than 700 feet and in some areas more than 1000 feet with in the vicinity of the lake. Unscientific planning by the government has also added to it. When the water level in lake started reducing, around 32 borewells were drilled by BWSSB on the lake bed to pump out water. This was the final nail on the coffin.

Mahesh Bhatt a photo journalist and a localite along with other people in the region has been spearheading a movement to revive this lake. They are trying to clear up clogged water paths to help water flow into the lake. Initial steps have lead to some encouraging results. A couple of years back, after the silt was cleared from the water paths leading to the lake, water started collecting in the lake during the monsoon season.

Bhoomi Thayi Balaga (friends of mother land) had organized a small folk concert as part of this event to spread awareness about water conservation.

Hessargatta Lake is around 30 KM from Bangalore. To reach Hessargatta Lake take NH-4,(via Yeshwanthpura), after Peenya take a right to Hessargatta road. You will first reach Soldevanahalli Station, proceeding further you will see the Water Ducts near Turbanahalli Village and still futher you will reach the Lake.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Praja Visit to Bengaluru International Airport

bangalore.praja.in is forum for citizens from Bengaluru to participate online to bring together ideas to make this city a better palace. It is a relatively new forum. It was a collective effort of a group of people who were writing blogs related to nama Bengaluru to join and start a common blog/platform to exchange ideas and issues concerning Bengaluru. I have myself been participating in the discussions for quite sometime now.

Praja.in had an active discussion concerning the new Bengaluru international airport for quite sometime. This discussion was noticed by BIAL and they invited praja.in members to visit the new airport to clear some of the issues raised in the forum. The fact that the concerned authorities took notice of such activity and came forward to address the issues is a great achievement for praja.in. The members interacted with BIAL officials and raised many questions. Read this link to get more information on that.

People come up with a lot of unconventional/simple solutions to complex problems of Bengaluru here. I hope more and more civic authorities take note of such forums and work towards a better Bengaluru. From the discussions i had with the other members, i understand that we will be meeting the officials of these civic utilities to make them aware of the problems and also possible solutions. I hope this initiate does something good for Bengaluru.

A few pictures of the new Bengaluru International Airport

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Talking Moments

I started a new blog exclusively for photos - Talking Moments. I hope to post a few pictures every week if not daily. I have been updating this blog for quite sometime now.

It was Rajiv's suggestion to start a new blog only for pictures. I did look at a few exclusive photoblog sites like uber, flickr, etc. but finally settled for blogspot itself.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

F1 2008 - my pre season analysis :)

A few more days left for the first F1 GP of 2008. This year promises to be more exiting than ever (coz of the interesting new rules). Being a strong supporter of Alonso, for me personally it not the best of times. Renault has been developing the 2008 car from scratch from the starting of 2007 itself and they are no way close to Williams or BMW forget Ferrari or McLaren– probably they started the development from a bullock cart. So the official stand for me this year is “I am a supporter of the game – F1” :). This is the stand most F1 fans take when their teams/racers are not doing well – same is the case with me :P. I used to be a fan of McLaren but just can support them anymore after all the mess they created last year. I hope Ron retires sooner than latter.

Ferrari – I am great fan of the legendary Luca, but I equally hate that pig faced Jean. Probably because he was part of the Schumacher team (there were times when they won races because of their lawyers, money and cheap tricks rather than Schumacher’s racing skills). It was such a pleasure to see him loose to Alonso in 2006. And I hope Jean too retires soon.

I am hoping against hope that BMW or Williams will give a tough competition to both McLaren and Ferrari.

Anyways these are my views; everyone has the right to have theirs.

The main theme of this post is the new rules that FIA have brought in. Pretty interesting actually –

  • The most important rule. Almost all electronic driver assistance has been removed – that includes traction control and electronic braking systems. All team will be using the ECU (electronic control unit) developed by Microsoft!!!! Shit I hope the engineers and drivers don’t have to see the Microsoft copyrighted BSD (the dreaded Blue Screen of Death) during the races.
  • 5.5% of the fuel used should be sourced from biological sources – basically ethanol. Green is the way to go but I don’t understand the logic behind this – don’t know in what way this will help the environment. Did someone mention Carbon Credits :P.
  • A new design requirement has been brought in to give additional protection to drivers’ head. A change introduced after the 2007 Australian GP accident involving Coulthard and Wurz. Coulthards car missed Wurz’s head by inches :o in that accident.
  • Same gearboxes should be used for 4 races. Teams like Super Aguri will be celebrating – they will have to worry about the gearbox costs only once in 4 races.
  • Qualifying has been changed to 20/15/10 minutes format. With 7 cars being eliminated in the first two segments.
  • This could be tricky – cars will not be allowed to refuel from the start of the last segment – Q3 till the start of the race. A tricky change, will be interesting to see how teams adapt to this in the first few races.
  • There are some restrictions on testing - 350KM i guess. – not very sure of this rule though.
  • Each team can have only 2 assembled cars at any time during the race weekend.
  • Also exact rules have been specified to verify fuel temperature.

I guess most of these rules were brought in to assist the poorer teams. The new ECU rule will have far reaching consequences. I was hoping that the slick tires too would come in this season itself, but I guess that will happen only in 2009.

There will be a good competition between Ferrari and Mclaren for the top slots and between Williams, BMW and Renault (i hope) for 3rd, 4th and 5th positions. Renault could come strong in the latter half of the season (when its too late). My predictions would be Kimi, Lewis (i hope this idiot too goes out of McLaren with Ron - dont know from whom he will copy the car setup this year) and Massa.

But everyone lives on hopes and I hope that Renault pulls of something spectacular this season to help Alonso win, if they don’t – I am supporting F1, not any specific team or driver ;)

Opps how could I forget to mention this – I hope our very own Force India F1 team with the support of 1 billion hearts makes atleast one podium finish.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

What is so local about it!!!

A lot has been said and written about this issue. It has been a while since I though I should put down my opinion on it.

Now the question – should locals be given preference in their native states for jobs. My answer both YES and NO.

Broadly I would like to divide the jobs into two sections. The first section – the professionals – IT, banking, management, consultants, etc, basically people with a professional degree. The second section – what you call the blue collar jobs, which includes manufacturing, construction, sales people in malls, security staff, house keeping staff, etc.

People who qualify for the first section of jobs are well educated and also the jobs in this section are very demanding. Competition should be the order of the day for these jobs. For this category there should absolutely be no preference given to the any category of people. As David Sarnoff (the founder of NBC) said “Competition brings out the best in products and the worst in people”. Only the fittest should survive. There should be no discrimination here.

The second section is the mass jobs sections. It is absolutely necessary to have some sort of reservation for the locals here. Taking a broader view – not doing this will lead to many social problems (Did someone mention about naxalism spreading rapidly in South India?). The jobs in this section do not require high degree of skills and even if they do need, it can be met with some basic training. The people who qualify for this section generally belong to the lower class of the society as CK Prahalad puts it – people from the “bottom of the pyramid”. They are the people who form the majority of any society. The welfare of these people should be the main concern of any government (obviously they also form the biggest vote bank).

Certain state governments have done better than others in attracting investments into their state. They have worked harder at providing facilities to companies than other states. They have acquired lands from people in their state to give it to these companies, in the hope that these companies generate large employment opportunities. They have provided water and electricity at subsidized rates (as a result the whole state pays extra to offset this) to these companies. They have invested large portion of the state revenues to develop infrastructure (though they are not sufficient). Having been part of all the sacrifices what is wrong when people from these progressive state demand some preference in jobs. These people should have the first right to the fruit of success of their states.

Why should the people of these progressive states pay for the mistakes of the governments of these non progressive states? Sprit of nationhood should exist but that not at the cost of the well fare of the local population. I am surprised to see the politicians from these non progressive states reading out rules from the constitution regarding equality (Opps I am just wondering if they ever had opened this book ever before!!!). Had they followed this very constitution properly in their states, their people would not have come to other states in search of livelihood. These politicians should get their priorities right before they do anything else. Rather than shouting their hearts out, they should look at emulating the progress of other states in their own states.

Is it a coincidence that a larger percentage of Biharis are getting the railway jobs? Is it a coincidence that more and more trains are being introduced to Bihar (from all over the country)? Bullshit – shamelessly they talk of the spirit of nationhood.

Having said all this, do I approve of the kind of tactics that Raj Thakre employ? – NO.

It was sad to see, the extents to which people go to promote ones own political ambitions. These people are more interesting in publicity rather than the welfare of their own people.

If regional parties like our very own KRV are really concerned about the local population then they should –

  • Lobby with the governments to open more ITIs (industrial training institutes). These are the institutes that impart training to people for manufacturing, construction, etc. They do wonders to the economy of any state. Provide a larger pool of skilled workers. This will attract more companies. It’s a vicious circle.
  • Stop opposing English as a medium of instruction. Kannada or the local language should be made compulsory, but there is no point in opposing English. It is this language that will finally decide if someone gets a job or not.
  • Open more finishing schools. These schools (similar to the ITIs) provide essential industry specific skills for people who wish to join the retails industry, call center jobs, etc. IIIT Bangalore opened recently opened one such school to help local IT graduates.
  • Lobby with the government to see to that companies that handle large infrastructure projects in the state hire people locally rather than people from outside. I have seen a few infrastructure companies from AP getting people from AP to do jobs here. For all government jobs, the companies should be forced to use local labors.
  • Instead of targeting IT companies for reservation in IT jobs, they should focus their energies on large retail and construction companies, house keeping companies, textile companies to hire local people.

But taking up these issues wont provide the regional parties with instant publicity and fame that they want, they wont get the TV coverage like what they get when they attack IT companies or outside people.

Mr Narayana Gowdare its time to rethink your game plans, having a non violent stance will legitimize your demands and also help you win over more people. You cause seams to be good, but the way you want to achieve it does not.

Monday, February 25, 2008

It is the courage to fight that matters

The following article was posted by E.R. RAMACHANDRAN on Churumuri. This is the unedited version of the original post. You can also read the original post here.

This is a story of a wonderful lady Suma. Marva Collins once said "Determination and perseverance move the world" and the proof for that -

As she ran along the pathway in the Glass House of Lalbagh, Suma was joy personified. Her eyes glistened as she chased the butterflies swirling in the morning sun. Sudhir and Sushila had taken their three-year-old daughter on a picnic before Sudhir, an officer in the merchant navy, would sail again.

That night, though, Suma fell ill. Probably the early-morning breeze, thought Sushila, but her temperature wouldn’t come down. Suma kept rubbing her eyes as she felt itchy.

The following morning they took her to the Agarwal Eye Hospital. Within an hour, the doctors diagnosed it as Retino Blastoma—cancer of the eye. Within minutes, the young couple heard the bad news: they would have to remove Suma’s left eye.

Is this really happening to us, wondered Sushila, as she saw her young daughter’s face swathed in bandage.

The doctors also suggested that if possible Suma should be taken abroad immediately for treatment so that the infection didn’t spread to the other eye. An ophthalmic research institute in Frankfurt was doing pioneering research on preventive aspects of infection. After hectic calls to Sushila’s cousin Vimala in Germany, the family boarded the flight to Frankfurt.

“Just in time,” was the reaction of doctors who made sure the infection wouldn’t spread. But a day prior to their departure to Bombay, tragedy struck again; Suma’s surviving eye became itchy and doctors asked Sudhir and Sushila to sign the papers to remove her right eye. They also removed the optical nerve to save the child’s life.

A gale had hit a small boat sailing in serene waters. In just two weeks, life had turned topsy-turvy for Sudhir and Sushila. The apple of their eye, born normal, had lost her sight in front of their eyes.


The initial years were hellish for Sushila. With Sudhir away for long periods, she had to combat the terrible fate that had befallen them on her own. A bright, chirpy Suma had turned into a lifeless object staring into dark vacant space.

Instead of indulging in self-pity, Sushila decided to face the world with all the courage she could muster. She was determined not to send Suma to a blind school. She got her admitted to a Mahila Seva Samaja. “We will bring up her up as normally as possible,” she would tell Sudhir who marveled at his wife’s fighting spirit.

Suma turned out to be a bright kid; she could grasp lessons quickly. Sushila would read her stories and made her repeat the same. Radio became her friend and later, a trusted ally. She listened avidly to the programmes on BBC for hours and learnt to differentiate the newsreaders through their voice.

It’s a nightmare for blind students taking public exams. Sushila had to go all over the town to get ‘writers’ who would write out the answer papers dictated by her visually challenged daughter. There were times when, with just couple of days to go for an exam, she was still frantically searching for writers.

Suma did her class X and got a first class in her BSc.

When she wanted to study management, Sudhir wanted her to join the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Bombay and stay at his sister’s place. But Suma had secured admission to a school in Surrey, England. “Please spend the money on my studies which you would have otherwise incurred on my marriage,” she pleaded with her tearful parents.

Finally Suma went to England. For someone who had not stepped out of her house without an escort, she changed planes and landed at her college all by herself.

Her roommate was Maria, a West Indian. During weekend breaks, she went to Frankfurt to meet her aunt, alone.

She called BBC and reminisced about their earlier newscasters and mimicked their style of reading news. They were so delighted they called her over to Bush House for tea and asked her to participate in a talk show.


Sudhir, having retired from service, often worried about Suma’s future. In three months their daughter would be back. Then what? How would she find life here after studies are over, he wondered.


One day, when their TV went blank, Suma and Maria called the TV repair service. A bright young man came and found some components had conked out. He brought the parts and repaired the set. The girls thanked him and invited him to have their afternoon tea with them. Next day he came again and serviced their radio set free of charge.

John Beachcom ran a modest business of an electronic repair service in and around Surrey.

The girls once invited him for lunch at the canteen but decided to cook in their room itself. John joined them in cooking and it turned out he was a better cook than the girls!

The girls graduated with first class and celebrated with John joining them.

When John proposed to Suma that evening, she was speechless. Maria, to whom John had earlier confided his liking for Suma, urged her to consider his proposal. Suma wanted John to talk to Sushila and Sudhir and take their approval first.

Suma bade goodbye to Maria, John and England, and returned to Bangalore alone.

The marriage took place in Jayanagar. John’s mother Michelle, his aunt Clara, and Maria came with John sporting a Mysore peta at the brief wedding ceremony.

For sometime Suma worked in a management firm in Surrey with a guide dog, a golden retriever, accompanying her. Now Suma and John have two children, both boys, Shankar and Chris. Sudhir and Sushila visited them and spent some time in their new house. John has expanded his business into computers. The family came to Mysore for a brief visit last year.

As the kids created havoc at the childrens’ corner at Cheluvamba Park, I could see their mother smile through her eyes.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sunrise - Bangalore More Pictures

Another cold foggy morning in Bangalore and few more pictures. Photos taken near Hebbal kere (flyover), Outer ring road between KR Puram and Hebbal and at ITPB.

Hebbal Flyover

Service Lane (Outer Ring road)

Service Lane (Outer Ring road)

Lake between Benganahalli and KR Puram