While Bengaluru’s water crisis has long been in the limelight as a matter of academic, social and political debate amongst the leading experts and thinkers of the city, a lesser known effort by the Mannu Vaddars of the Bhovi community of Bengaluru may finally be providing a sustainable and long term solution to this crisis – the traditional practice of digging recharge wells to revive the fast-receding underground water table of the city.

In an attempt to make the stories and processes surrounding this practice accessible and visible to the citizens, Art in Transit, a public art and pedagogic initiative by Srishti Institute of Art, Design & Technology has collaborated with ecological design experts, Biome Environmental Solutions. Art in Transit operates within the metro spaces of the city and hopes to leverage this public platform to connect people to place and engage with place-based inquiries. Here for the water stories, we have cut a cross section into the earth under Cubbon Park to showcase water practices of the well diggers who have dug 65 recharge wells in the park. The mural on the wall at the metro depicts the shallow aquifer underground. We have used mud from the Cubbon Park recharge wells to pain the mural.

 

 

Over the past four months, facilitator Arzu Mistry, along with her students from the Explanations as Stories and Picturing Processes & Phenomena undergraduate courses at Srishti, organized a series of masterclasses with pertinent groups and individuals in the field such as Biome, Kavya Sanje, Deepta Satish, Jackson Porretta and Krishnan MB to conceptualize a narrative that ties together the historical, ecological, cultural and social contexts of water in the city. This research process culminated with the designing of a large mural at Cubbon Park Metro Station, using only paint derived from mud extracted in the digging of the 65 recharge wells that Biome is facilitating within the park

On 16th & 17th November, a community paint and poetry event was hosted by Art in Transit at the Cubbon Park Metro station, inviting the public to engage with the project and the well-diggers who are changing Bengaluru’s water future. Through the use of unusual media such as mud paint in telling visual stories about the process of well digging, the event hoped to make visible this vital work of the well diggers and encourage citizens of the city to reach out to them to dig wells in their homes and communities.

For a primer on recharge wells, or to access a directory of the welldiggers along with contact information, please visit: http://www.bengaluru.urbanwaters.in/
 
Project supported by Bengaluru Sustainability Forum and BMRCL