Story of a river that flows out of a city and into the lives of farmers downstream

 In Memories of the river

Not all stories end or even end well. This is the story of a river that flows out of a city and into the lives of farmers downstream. This is the story of the Vrishabhavathi.

A black snake slithers under the city of Bangalore. It makes itself visible only to those who wish to see it but is always a gaze away. Behind large advertisement boards on Mysore road, under the Mantri metro station, next to that swanky hotel where Ranveer and Deepika hosted the who’s who of the city and served them podi idly, it meanders sluggishly.

Once a seasonal stream, the river’s ailing heart beats through the year as it feeds on several million litres of untreated domestic and industrial wastewater flows. It regurgitates all this into a large irrigation tank designed to supply farmlands outside the city with water. Farmers often come in contact with these waters when they work as they grow baby corn, coconuts and mulberry. So do cows and other farm animals as they eat the fodder grown with this water. Finally, the produce reaches back on our plates and possibly in our silk sarees. Maybe the coconuts used to make chutney served alongside the podi idly came from here. Maybe they also served chilly babycorn. We’ll never know.

The froth generated at the irrigation talk does not attract the same attention as it does in Bellandur. I suppose it’s for the best. In the absence of clean waters for irrigation, sewage will do. But this does have consequences on the farmer’s health. Her skin has a million stories written on it. Do you want to hear them?

– Nakul Mohan Heble

A visit to the river side and dip your feet in the river