As summer lingers on and the monsoon season is delayed, the scorching heat and the availability of clean drinking water are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. This year, with nearly no rainfall in June, the current water levels in Rakaskop and Hidkal will only be sufficient until end-June or the First week of July.
Belagavi City used to rely on well water before the Rakaskop scheme was implemented. Most of these wells were constructed during the British Raj, almost 100 to 200 years ago. Dr. M. Vishveshwarayya, the designer of the Rakaskop Scheme, stated in the preamble to his report that
In 1995, the Rakaskop Reservoir was the sole source of clean drinking water for Belagavi City. However, the wells had fallen into disuse over the forty years of piped water supply. When the rains were delayed until July 22nd, the reservoir was completely empty, and alternative sources of water had to be found.
Belagavi’s efforts to ensure water security for all its citizens by utilizing local resources fall into the latter category.
In 1964, the introduction of piped water in Belagavi left households hesitant about connecting to the pipeline. Despite attempts to persuade residents, the divisional commissioner at the time came up with a seemingly brilliant idea. He ordered the closure of wells, hoping to force residents to connect to the new system. Ironically, 50 years later, the government had to put in significant effort to reopen these same wells.
However, the Open Well Project has emerged as a beacon of hope for the community. This local initiative showcases the power of innovation in solving local problems and improving public services. The project has transformed the way water is accessed in this Tier II city, providing a sustainable solution to a long-standing issue.
Through the Open Well Project, the community has come together to revitalize these wells, ensuring that they are safe and accessible for all. This initiative has not only improved access to water but has also created a sense of community and pride in the city.
With utmost humility, we present this effort as a replicable solution for the untapped underground water resources that exist in almost every corner of the world. Our approach involves designing a mini filter, alum dozer, chlorinator, and pumps, and connecting them to the existing water network. We believe that community involvement, along with the support of social organizations, NGOs, private entrepreneurs, and donors, is crucial for the successful execution of this project.
The mastermind behind this project was Engineer R S Nayak, who successfully implemented it and received numerous awards for his outstanding work. This scheme has been replicated in many other cities, proving its effectiveness and potential impact.
The Veerbhadra Nagar well, constructed by the British in 1908, boasts a water column of 100 feet. The source of water for this well is a stream that originates from a distance of nearly 5 km between two trap rock layers and opens at this point. Three wells were constructed at this location, connected by a six-foot-high tunnel.
By implementing this replicable effort, we can tap into the vast underground water resources that exist in many areas and provide a sustainable solution for communities in need.
The British constructed several wells in the city of Shetty Galli during the late 1800s. One of these wells, located in the heart of the city, is a perfectly rectangular shape with identical dimensions at the top and bottom. Another well, situated in Math Galli, was built in 1883 and is located near the Fire Station. The Kirloskar Road well is a high-yielding open well that is centrally located in the city. The Borough Municipality utilized this well to supply water by constructing a small overhead tank.
Additionally, the British constructed a well on Goods Shed Road with a water column of 90 feet. Interestingly, all of these wells were surrounded and protected by a layer of laterite.
In 1924, during the historic convention of the Congress Party, presided over by the great Mahatma Gandhi, the ‘Pampa Sarovar’ was constructed and later renamed the ‘Congress Well’. This well, which cost Rs. 4370 and 3 annas to build, supplied water to the thousands of people who had gathered for the Convention.
In recent years, many wells have been rejuvenated, leading to the restoration of water supply in various areas. Notably, the Sheri Galli corner well, the 12 Puleyed well at Hutatma Chowk (Bara Ghadghadyachi Vihir), and a well in School No. 2 in Ganpat Galli have all been reopened.
It is heartening to see these efforts to preserve our heritage and ensure access to clean water for all.
NGOs like Pyaas Foundation also roped in and rejuvenated wells like the one at Kelkar bag and also Shoonya Foundation which also rejuvenated wells in Camp and other areas.
Let us continue to cherish and protect our historical landmarks for future generations to come.