Art in Transit & Biome Environmental Trust celebrated the work of the traditional well digging Mannu Vaddar Community with an evening of poetry by Kaavya Sanje and virtual tour of the mural at the Cubbon Park metro station, at the culmination of the Namma Ooru Namma Neeru project, on September 4, 2021.
Weaving art and ecology - artists, poets, well diggers, ecologists, and government partners gathered online to tell some stories of Bengaluru's water. Bengaluru - traditionally a city of tanks and open wells, used to comfortably meet its domestic water needs by sustainably managing the surface and groundwater supply. Today, as the city has grown, groundwater is a primary water source for the city, despite piped water supply. Over time, the city’s open wells have disappeared yielding space to borewells that tap into deep aquifers that are fast depleting. For a sustainable future, Bengaluru needs to revive its relationship with its shallow aquifer - the one that open wells and recharge wells tap into. Recharge wells allow rainwater to seep back into the earth eventually replenishing the deep aquifers.
Biome Environmental Trust conceived of the “One Million Wells for Bengaluru" campaign to replenish the city's groundwater. Well-diggers of the Mannu Vaddar community who have been digging wells for centuries, dug 65 recharge wells in Cubbon Park (and many more across the city). Art in Transit, Design Earth and placeARTS Youth Collective, gathered the earth from these wells and worked with Srishti students and the general commuter public at Cubbon Park Metro Station to paint a mural to tell stories of Bengaluru’s groundwater. Kavya Sanje multilingual poetry collective has brought to life the forgotten histories of the well-digging Bhovi community. Bangalore Sustainability Forum has supported this initiative through its small grants program.
The knowledge and expertise of the Mannu Vaddar community are central to the solution to the city’s water problems, yet with the mechanisation of well digging and borewell-drilling - traditional well diggers are leaving behind skills and knowledge that are generations old. Beyond just a vision of Bengaluru's water sustainability, the Million Wells initiative also looks at the livelihood sustainability of the Mannu Vaddars who have succeeded in constructing more than one lakh recharge wells in recent years.
Each one of us can become a part of the solution by contributing to well digger livelihoods and being part of Bengaluru's water sustainability. Do you have access to a 3x3 sqft area of land? Can you help Bengaluru’s water crisis by digging a recharge well? Get in touch with a well digger or visit bengaluru.urbanwaters.com for more information.
Help dig a million recharge wells!