How Karnataka’s Bhovi diggers are making sure all is well

Many urbanites think open wells exist only in villages now. They don’t know that it can be done in their backyard | Image - Immayabharathi K | All photos by Prabhu Mallikarjunan

Sriram R, an indigenous well-digger belonging to the Bhovi-Mannu Vaddar (scheduled caste) community, descends to the bottom of an open well, about 10-12-feet deep, in a public park in Bengaluru to desilt, clean and revive it.

The well, which had remained shut for several years, is covered with a green layer of aquatic fern. A few minutes later, as he cleans further deep, he encounters water mixed with sludge and waste thrown into the well over the years.

Sriram and two others clear the sludge, remove the debris, treat the water to remove iron bacteria, using lime potassium permanganate and ensure the water that would be drawn a week later is usable, especially for cleaning the park.

Sriram is guided by a relative, Ramakrishnappa KR, 41, a third-generation well-digger who has dug close to 5,000 open and recharge wells in Bengaluru and surrounding areas.

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