Well-diggers of Bengaluru leave their mark on canvas

The dying tradition of conserving and recharging groundwater will be the source of paint for an art project that seeks to put the spotlight on the lives of well-diggers in the city.

On Tuesday, the Art in Transit project, envisioned by Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology and Biome Environmental Solutions, took well-diggers from the Bhovi/Vaddar community on a tour of Cubbon Park metro station whose walls will become the canvas for showcasing their livelihood and the need for water conservation.

Through the art, Srishti Institute seeks to bring out stories inspired by the well-diggers and their connection to water. “We plan to use an unusual technique of using mud removed from the wells dug by well-diggers to paint a mural at Cubbon Park metro station. The art will not only raise awareness about the importance of water conservation through recharge wells, but will also help well-diggers whose livelihood is under threat,” said Jackson Peralta, a faculty member at Srishti. He added that the mural is expected to be ready in five months.

Three kinds of mud from various strata of soil in the city will be used for the murals. To create them, well-diggers were divided into smaller groups of 15 each and provided with maps of the city. The well-diggers took turns to narrate their stories, which were recorded by the Biome volunteers, and marked the spots where they have dug recharge wells.

A million wells

Given the water scarcity in the city, Biome believes that traditional well-diggers hold the key to fully utilising the over 3,000 million litres of rainfall Bengaluru receives annually. “We intend to have wells of a simple size of 3 feet diameter and 20 feet depth, which will also serve the purpose of recharging water in order to revive the city’s shallow groundwater,” said Avinash Krishnamurthy, director and project manager at Biome.

S. Vishwanath, a trustee at Biome, said they have partnered with the well-diggers to revive wells and plan to construct 65 recharge wells — a small step towards the larger goal of the “million wells movement”. “If we collect half the rainfall in an aquifer, it will be the equivalent of the quantum of water we get from river Cauvery,” he said.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 3:16:03 PM |

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