Monday, December 26, 2022

Biome Trust has won the Transformative Cities People's Choice Award

The winners of the 2022 Transformative Cities People’s Choice Award were announced at an international online event last Friday, 9 December. The 2021-2022 Transformative Cities People’s Award went to four initiatives for their work in the areas of water, energy, housing and food systems. Up to 16000 people from across the globe voted online to determine the winners, out of 12 international projects.

The winners of the Transformative Cities People’s Choice Award 2021-2022:

Water category: Million Wells for Bengaluru (India) aims to tackle the decrease of rainfall and to avoid flooding as the city gets paved over. A traditional but marginalized well-digging community, the Mannu Vaddars, are determined to help their community by sending rainwater to replenish the water table from which the city meets a large part of its water needs. At the same they revive their own livelihoods.

Shuba Ramachandran, who represented Million Wells at the Finale stated “We want that the traditional well diggers see themselves (as) barefoot hydrologists that understand ground water. What we are doing in Bengaluru is being rolled out to other 10 pilot cities and then perhaps to other 500 cities. Winning this award puts us in a much better place to talk about the work that we do and see it work across the country.”

Video of the Award Ceremony will be available at: 

Website of Transformative Cities: 

Website Transnational Institute: 


Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Wells of Vidyaranyapura: A Veteran’s Veteran Well in Vidyaranyapura

 About Vidyaranyapura 

Vidyaranyapura is located in Northern Bengaluru. In the 90s, many residents built wells to tap into the shallow aquifer to source groundwater for the construction of their homes and to meet household needs. 

This three-series blog documents three wells found in different parts of Vidyaranyapura. 

An Old Well in Vidyaranyapura

In an old house on 2nd Cross, 7th Main Road of BEL Layout stands a 30-year-old well (13. 0733493, 77. 5566322). The water from this well was used for the construction of the building. After the completion of the building, the well water was utilized for cleaning and washing until it dried up after ten years of regular use.

The well-owner recounts, ‘We used (the) water from this well for the construction of this house. (After that, in the early 2000s) we were getting borewell water that was supplied by BEL…’. Around 2010, when the layout was provided with piped water by BBMP, this household like many others switched to Cauvery water. 

Today, the well is recharged by the rainwater channeled from the rooftop. 

Fig: The 30-year-old well in BEL Layout.

This well stands testimonial to the changes in the water supply that BEL Layout has seen over the last three decades. 

Currently, most wells in Vidyaranyapura have been abandoned or converted into rainwater harvesting structures, due to the steady supply of Cauvery water and the wells drying up in the early 2000s. 

(Click this link to read the second part of the series — a perennial well located in the Vidyaranyapura BWSSB office.)

Wells of Vidyaranyapura: All is well with the BWSSB Well!

 A well with crystal clear water stands in the compound of the Vidyaranyapura BWSSB office. The 50-feet deep and 35-feet wide well can potentially hold over 1 million liters of water !! 

Mr. Shankar, the water-tanker driver employed at the BWSSB office, recalls that he has never seen the well go dry in the last 20 years. He attributes its perenniality to the Narsipura Lake which is 300 meters away from the office. 

 Fig: The proximity of the Narsipura Lake from the BWSSB office (red balloon) 

He confirms that the water from the well is used to fill the 4000-liter-capacity jetting tanker he drives. This water is used for clearing manholes — a volume of 16000 liters and 2000 liters per day is sourced from the well during the monsoons and summers respectively.

Every month, Mr. Shanker volunteers to clear the dead foliage, flowers, and twigs that fall on the mesh covering the mouth of the well. Hence, ensuring its upkeep. 

Fig: The functional, old well located in the BWSSB Office of Vidyaranyapura.

While explaining its multifunctionality, he points at an iridescent school of fish swimming in the water— the BWSSB well is home to aquatic life as well!

Click this link to read the third part of the series — A well-dug in 2020, has the owner brimming with joy as it brims in 2022!

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Wells of Vidyaranyapura: Kamesh Mahadevan’s Well

In order to correct the Vastu of his house (located in BEL Layout) Mr. Kamesh Mahadevan sealed a 30-year-old well that stood in the southeast corner of his house and replaced it with another recharge well in his courtyard.

This 3-feet wide and 20-foot deep well is used to recharge rooftop rainwater. The rooftop rainwater is routed into the well after it passes through a wall-mounted filter.

When the well was dug in 2020, it saw no water for almost a year. Though, with continuous recharge over time, it started to hold water. 

Image 1: Mr. Mahadevan’s well that filled up after two years of continuous recharge

After 2 years, the water has risen to a height of 6 feet from ground level and has stayed thus for the last 6 months ( i. e November 2022). He beams that this is the most it has ever yielded and attributes this to the heavy rains Bengaluru witnessed this year. The excessive rainwater from the brimming well was diverted into the stormwater drain — this proud well owner has done his bit in recharging groundwater. 

He plans on utilizing the water in the well by installing a pulley to draw water manually and to give it an old-school look!

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Global Climate Change Week Workshop at APU


APU workshop 17-18 Oct - Brochure

As part of the ‘Global Climate Change Week’, on October 17th and 18th 2022 four collaborative workshops/events were conducted at the Azim Premji Unversity. This workshop was conducted together by Hasiru Dala, Bangalore Sustainability Forum and Citizen Matters. Speakers from various background participated and shared their perspectives on dealing with floods in Bengaluru and the potential designs and solutions.

Biome participated in the panel of the first workshop conducted on Oct 17th. The topic of this panel discussion was ‘Building climate Leaders in Informal Settlements’

Workshop Topic 1

The panel consisted of the speakers listed below. The composition of the panel was quite unique since it included two participants from the waste picker community, who had first-hand experience in dealing with floods during heavy rain events

  • Ms Jayabai, Wastepicker
  • Ms Lalitha, Hair picker: Experiences of living with floods in Konapa Agrahara
  • Ms Nalini Shekar, Hasiru Dala
  • Mr Akbar , Hasiru Dala
  • Mr Srinivas, Biome Environmental Trust 

Panel Discussion

Ms Harini gave the introduction and spoke about how informal communities are vulnerable and affected by climate change. Specifically, they are the most affected during heavy rains. During the interaction with waste pickers, several factors which contribute to flooding in such communities came up for discussion. Some of these reasons are listed below,
  • The informal settlements tend to be formed at low lying areas and very close to Rajakaluves
  • The new developments that come around these informal settlements tend to raise their building structure levels higher in relation to the surrounding ground level. Thus causing water to flow further away from these buildings and into the low-lying homes of the waste pickers
  • There have been instances where the owner of the land partially blocked the adjacent drains, causing excess water to be diverted into the houses of these waste picker communities
When such flooding occurs, Jayabai and Lalitha mentioned that they resort to using buckets to empty out the standing water. This is a laborious process and sometimes they have to stay up the whole night. This condition obviously affects their daily schedule, livelihood and also their health.

This was followed by a discussion around potential solutions like,
  • Re-locating these communities to higher grounds
  • Raising the ground level of the settlement itself using construction debris
  • Developing recharge pits/wells along the pathway of the water flow, as a larger community action
  • Increasing awareness about monitoring forecasts, so that the dwellers in these settlements can prepare themselves in an adequate manner
  • The need for Govt agencies to include these people also in a participatory/consultative manner for solutions that are planned/implemented for flood management/prevention

The panel discussion also included a Question and Answer component.
The waste pickers also shared their experiences of social discrimination, which they face on a regular basis. They mentioned that due to the nature of their work other better-off people living in the surrounding community look upon them with suspicion and distrust.

Ms Nalini mentioned an important point towards the end of the workshop. The waste pickers actually help clean the city streets by picking up plastics and other discarded materials. They are an integral part of recycling. Hence they are positively contributing towards addressing climate change issues. Paradoxically they are also the most affected by events caused by climate change. The adverse impact of flooding during heavy rains is one such issue. Coming up with solutions for handling and mitigating floods can go a long way in improving their living condition.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Biome Trust part of City Resource Forum for Bengaluru

The second meeting of the City Resource Forum (CRF), Bengaluru was held on 02th Nov 2022  at the BCC, Bengaluru and was attended by many members from 17 city organizations. 

Biome Trust will be part of the steering committee, to engage with on-ground work on water & livelihood related goals. 

The CRF has been conceived as a part of the Fair Urban Transitions program and has been set up by Gujarat Mahila Housing Sewa Trust (MHT) supported by Integrated Design (INDÉ). The CRF is envisaged to be a coalition of diverse stakeholders working at the intersection of climate change, urbanization and informality, to work for the city. It bridges the gap , between multiple dimensions of the city, to also reflect in formal policy and framework. 

The emerging thematics that was discussed were energy and access for housing, water security, ward planning framework and local planning for governance. 

Ward planning framework was discussed in detail and ideas of citizen-led, inclusive planning that captures the nuances/dynamics on ground beyond land-use categories, mechanisms to integrate ward plans with city level planning tools were brainstormed.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Rainwater Harvesting at Vidya Prabodhini College, Alto-Parvari-Goa

Vidya Prabodhani college is in a 3850 sqm area on laterite plateau. The building has three floors with a central quadrangle and classrooms on each floor. Next to the building is a 4000 sqm playground. The building accommodates students from class one to degree college. A few other details about the college are given below.

Location: Porvorim, Goa

Run by: Praboshan Education Society

Total occupancy: 2893 students + staff

Location of Vidya Prabodhini college

1.0 Situation before intervention

Sources of water

The main source of water is a borewell located in the playground. The college also has a municipal water supply connection.

Water storage

Water from the borewell is pumped into a 60KL sump that is located at the entrance of the playground.  Water from this sump is further pumped into two overhead tanks of 10KL capacity each. This water is then passed through Aquaguard filters for drinking purposes.

Water infrastructure at Vidya Prabodhini college

Water demand: 60 KLD

Utilities of water: Water is used for drinking, handwashing, in the toilet, washing utensils in the canteen, cleaning and to water the garden including potted plants.


Left: 3-Storey Building; Right: Borewell


Left: 10000x2 OHT; Right: 60,000L Sump


Left: Downtake pipes; Right: Canteen

Water filter

2.0 Interventions undertaken

2.1 Rainwater harvesting

Project funded by: Purvankara and Provide Housing Limited

Annual rainfall in Goa: ~3000mm

Given the high average rainfall in Goa, even a part of the roof considered for RWH is sufficient to meet their water demand during the monsoon season. Using harvested rainwater will reduce stress on the borewell as well as the municipal water.

Rooftop area considered for RWH: 1221 sqm

annual runoff from this area: 3207 KL

Satisfies the water demand for: 55 days of the year

Tasks undertaken

The following tasks were undertaken for the project.

  • Plumbing: Connecting all the downpipes and passing the rainwater through rainy filters.

  • New sump: A new sump of  3KL (dimensions: 6ftx6ftx3ft) serves as a filter and storage for small showers

  • Existing sump: The overflow from this is connected to the existing 60KL sump

  • Recharge Well: Once the 60KL sump is filled with the overflow from the 3KL sump, the water will overflow to a Recharge Well with dimension of 5ft x 24ft  (Static volume of  13KL)

Illustration of the RWH system at the college

Left: Rainy filer; Right: Recharge well

2.2 Training and awareness program

Regular Maintenance of the system

  • A training session was organized for regular  maintenance of the RWH system. 

  • In the same session, a schedule was planned for the maintenance of the system.

Training on the installed RWH system

Usage of pH meter, TDS meter and H2S vials

A training for the staff was organized to

  • check the pH, TDS and bacterial contamination in the rain water using hand held meters and H2S vials.

  • pH meter, TDS meter, Calibration solution for pH and TDS meter and H2S vials were handed over to the institution to check the quality of water on a regular basis.

Testing kits

2.3 Planned activities for the future

The following activities are planned for the project in the upcoming days


  • Awareness sessions for the students and staff.

  • Awareness sessions for the panchayat and locals around the institution.

Demand management

  • Installation of Aerators.


  • Installation of a communication board that informs about the RWH system and its objectives.

3.0 Conclusion

Given its location, Vidya Prabodhini college is in a pretty good position to harvest rainwater. This can work as a great model for rooftop rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge using recharge wells for the panchayat and the surrounding villages and towns. Being a college, this is also a great place for the future generations to learn about water management and conservation.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

160 Recharge wells in HSR Layout Parks

HSR layout (Hosur-Sarjapur Road layout) is a prominent suburb in south-eastern Bangalore, in the Bommanahalli constituency. It lies in the outer (or newer) part of BBMP jurisdiction that has become a part of the city during the 2000s.

Parks and modern civic amenities are some of the best maintained in the area. After the establishment of a Sewage Treatment Plant recently, the municipality has engaged with United Way to dig 160 recharge/withdrawal wells in 31 parks.

HSR layout on the map


Due to its geological placement, certain areas in HSR layout have been observed to be prone to water logging. Concurrently, residents in many parts of the layout have also faced water scarcity issues in the summer.

The objective of the project is to drive climate resilience and self-sufficiency in the water sector for the local area. The project is a part of a larger initiative driven by United Way that aims to dig 10,000 percolation wells/recharge wells in and around the city and in private and public places to increase the groundwater table as well as mitigate flooding.

The wells and the well diggers

Well digger Pedanna and his team were involved in digging these wells. It took about 4 people to dig one well in a day.


Well dimensions: 5 feet dia by 12-15 feet deep.
Distance between two wells is 20 meters.

Depending on the size of the park, anywhere between 6 to 20 wells were dug in each of the parks. Some prominent parks in the list include Bangalore one park on 24th Main, Forest park in Sector 2, Sri Varasiddhi Vinayaka Temple Park in sector 7, Swachagraha Kalika Kendra in sector 4 etc.

According to well digger Pedanna, in some parks old pits filled with jelly stones were found. These had silted up completely and trees were growing in some of them. This made them non-revivable and non-usable. Hence, there was a need to dig more wells.

Contract structure

United way has been the initiator and the funder of this project in partnership with BBMP. The implementation partner for this project is Indus Herbs, through whom well digger Pedanna and team has received the well digging contract.


In a city like Bengaluru, parks are a few places where the non-paved areas are greater than the paved ones. According to United Way, such places have great potential for groundwater recharge and flood mitigation. Based on the experience United Way has had at other sites like Lalbagh, they are expecting to see good results in this regard in HSR layout as well. The actual effect of the project still remains to be seen in the coming seasons, however, as implementation has just been completed.


Pedanna and team digging wells in Bangalore one park

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Million Wells in the UNESCO World Heritage Cities Programme

UNESCO published an article on the Million Wells initiative in their Urban Notebooks newsletter of February 2021


Saturday, September 17, 2022

BIOME at the Simple Living Workshop organised by CGBMT: April 2022

BIOME conducted sessions on Water Conservation with special emphasis on  Rainwater Harvesting for the students registered for the workshop

Million Wells for Bengaluru : On Occupy Climate Change blog


The first link is for the article page and the second for the uploaded document.

BIOME at INHAFs Rethinking Cities Webinar on 16th October 2020

Guidance Notes for Sustainable Infrastructure Investments of AIIB


BIOME's article on Pg 38-39

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

Acknowledging the people on ground that make projects happen

BIOME was invited to participate in a panel discussion on the City and Livelihoods at The Launch of the Coffee Table book -  "Humans Of Ethos"  to felicitate the team behind construction of a residential complex Century Ethos at Hebbal

This event was in line with BIOME's philosophy of making sure that the well diggers get due credit for the work that they do


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Biome's stall at "Oota from your Thota"

On 28th August 2022, the 40th event of ‘Oota from your Thota’ was organized by Rotary Jalahalli in association with Hosachiguru in HMT grounds, Jalahalli. Observed on World Kitchen Garden day, the focus of this event was to promote and enable the growing of food in urban kitchen gardens sustainably.

Biome was among the invites that included a well-balanced mix of vendors, practitioners and enthusiasts. The focus was on spreading awareness about sustainable water management practices in urban spaces.

The Biome team set the assigned stall up with posters, banners, booklets and other info-graphic printed material to attract visitors. Among the hubbub of the working display models and products put up for sale, the team was pleasantly surprised to have encountered a continuous flow of visitors throughout the day. About 30 people also signed up for more details via email about our work.

Biome stall at OFYT

Enquiries included concerns about water management in not just urban houses but also small and large-scale farms. Most farm enquiries were about providing sustainable water management solutions in lands with drying borewells, whereas enquiries from urban houses mainly included queries about rooftop rainwater harvesting and flood mitigation strategies in small spaces. We also received enthusiastic enquiries about lake restoration and citizen engagement in societies for sustainable water management practices.

The day ended with a satisfied bunch of visitors of varied age groups along with happy Biome representatives.

Understanding simple water management techniques

Understanding rooftop rainwater harvesting

Monday, September 12, 2022

Workshop on Water at Bhoomi College for the "Ecological living in urban spaces" course - 2022

 As a part of the course “Ecological Living in Urban Spaces”, Biome Environmental Trust conducted a 2-day workshop on ‘Sustainability and Water’ on the 24th and 25th of August, 2022 at Bhoomi College, Bengaluru.

The theme revolved around groundwater, surface water and communities. A few days prior to this, the students had visited the gated community Rainbow Drive on Sarjapur road, to learn about the commendable water management practices they have put in place in the layout. Anchored by Mr KP Singh, this visit helped the students gain a proper context of water management in the city before the workshop began.

DAY 1:

The first day began early with a field trip to Sowl Kere in Kaikondrahalli, which was anchored by Suma. The slight breeze and the pleasant morning sun made it a perfect morning for birdwatching and observing the lake. The objective of the visit was to understand the tank ecosystem in Bengaluru, the different functions of a lake, its design, the different habitats that develop in and around the lake and its various relationships with human communities.

The enthusiastic students, some avid birders among them, seemed to be on overdrive sharing their views, stories and experiences while Suma went through all the aspects of the lake and its ecosystem.

After what seemed to be a very short one-and-a-half hour, it was time to hurry back to Bhoomi College where some hot and delicious breakfast awaited us. After filling our bellies with some scrumptious and locally grown food, we all gathered in the lecture hall for a short introductory session by Suma, on Biome and its work on water management. Despite the lack of time, discussions about various aspects of water in different contexts kept creeping up, which were actively initiated and pursued by the students.

Following this, Srinivas took the students through a session that delved deeper into subjects like rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and aquifers. The subject of groundwater and its movement through the aquifers as well as it’s interactions with human societies seemed to grip everyone’s interest very strongly.

Lunch followed. An innovative and tasty lunch that was made with locally grown ingredients was served.

Post lunch, Suma dived deep into lake visioning -  the aspects that need to be looked at if one wishes to rejuvenate a lake. Political, technical and socio-economical angles were explored here.

Finally, Srinivas introduced the Million Wells campaign to the students. Its conception, progress and its vision were put forth. The day came to a close with some important discussions on the practical actions that the students could take at a personal as well as their community level for water conservation.

Observing Sowl Kere

Sowl Kere

The students with the Biome team (Day1)

DAY 2:

The agenda for day 2 was not rigidly fixed. The idea was for the day to progress organically with the sessions intended to be extremely interactive.

Since the first day fed the students with a lot of information, the second day was meant to ease the students into the application of this information.

One of our seniors from Biome - Avinash - conducted the session for the whole day. On the students’ request, it was decided that the discussions focus on the context of the cities the students were from.

An introductory session began which, apart from the student’s name and the city/town/village they were from, called for a story on water in their city/town/village. Interesting stories started to emerge. One student wondered how she would convince her fellow villagers to conserve water in a state with abundant water. Would she even have to? While another wondered why she was being forced to pay for municipality water when her well was full. Yet another wanted to know how to stop his mother from over-watering the plants while another was on a pursuit to find his human connection to water beyond the tap. Story after story emerged that led to discussions on topics like ecological conservation and responsibilities of the citizens, governance and politics. Right to water or responsibility for water was highly debated. The concept of our relationship with water and in turn with all the other creatures on earth was discussed extensively. The conversations took high turns and led to deep insights. The story of the evolution of human societies in the last few decades became the focus of the discussion.

This engrossing discussion had to be cut short at 11:15 am for a short tea break followed by a visit to Prakriya School. This school shares its campus with Bhoomi College. Prakriya School has implemented various water management systems that include rooftop rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge in the form of small ponds and recharge wells and natural greywater treatment systems. The students were taken around these systems to see their working implementation.

Lunch followed. Full stomachs, however, did not diminish the students’ enthusiasm. Discussions from the morning session continued. Avinash showed them a video of his visit to Meghalaya to portray how human relationships develop with water and how “convenience” can sever this relationship.

The day ended with deep insights into the story of water. The students, as well as the anchors, thoroughly enjoyed the workshop, taking away shared experiences, thoughts and deeper questions about water.

Session by Avinash

Discussions about the recharge well

Having some fun during the break

The students with the Biome team (Day2)