Save Nandi Hills – love for the hills!
The iconic Nandi Valley, about 60 Km from Bengaluru and 10 km from Chickballapura town is rich in biodiversity and heritage structures. It includes various hills from the Chikkaballapura range, including Nandi, Bramhagiri, Channagiril, Skandagiri and Avulabetta Hills. There are several inlets and streams that feed into the ponds and kalyani on the top of the hill.
The Nandi Hill range is also the origin for Arkavati, Palaar, Chittavati, Dakshina Pinakini and Uttara Pinakini rivers, and for the water with medicinal properties that flows through them. Deforestation combined with sand and quarry mining and reduced rainfall has altered the picturesque Nandi Hills and threatens to change its landscape forever.
Save Nandi Hills Campaign
Recognizing the urgent need to protect the heritage, biodiversity and natural resources of Nandi Hills, United Way Bengaluru initiated a holistic Save Nandi Campaign. This campaign, initiated in 2016 is being implemented as a partnership between the Govt. of Karnataka, District Administration of Chikkaballapur, the Forest, Tourism and Horticulture Departments, and Nandi Panchayat.
The Save Nandi Hills Campaign has built awareness on conservation of ecology and heritage through public events such as Nandi Hillathon and Nandi Habba. The events were organised with the aim of inspiring the people of Bengaluru to participate and create a sustainable, zero-carbon footprint platform for tourism. Athletes from across the world and locally, attended the events.
The campaign, which is ongoing, will enable the following as a long-term commitment towards conserving Nandi Hills:
- Enhance bio-diversity through volunteerism for tree plantation drives and seed ball throwing initiatives: The seeds were native and forest-based and suited for planting on Nandi Hills. Fertile red soil, manure, cow dung was used to make the seed balls engaging volunteers from various companies. 2000 saplings of native fruit and flower bearing species have been planted since the campaign began. This has also discouraged the proliferation of Eucalyptus, which is known to be harmful to soil and water. General public was also invited for the events.
- Gundutopu and kalyani restoration: Sultanpet village which was once a battlefield is in the valley. It holds a unique social forest with tall and old trees and the space served for the community to gather. It is now in bad shape and dumped with garbage and overgrown with weeds. Work is one to revive it. There is also an ancient kalyani in the area which is being revived.
- Restore water bodies in and Nandi Hills through low-cost, traditional methods: Nandi Hills has unique water body systems in the form of kalyanis. Being the origin for five rivers, there are nine kalyanis that support these. One such kalyani is named Paataala Ganga which receives the rain water and filters the same underground through a sand bed and feeds the next kalyani downstream named Amrut Sarovara. This was obstructed with silt and choking Paataala Ganga. The feeder canals have been cleaned and water is now flowing into the Paataala Ganga, which is now bringing the water level up in the Amrut Sarovara.
- Restoration of Nandi Lake: Nandi Lake, which is in the valley of the chain of Nandi Hills, was in a decrepit shape. Uncontrolled removal of soil and dumping of waste and debris had destroyed the lake. UWBe, with the approval and endorsement of the District Administration and Zilla Panchayat took up a scientific study of the lake and devised a contour map and the lake is now getting new shape. The feeder canals blocked for several years are now cleared and will allow rainwater to flow into the lake.
- Improve community education, health and livelihood for local communities: In order to help local communities gain health, education and livelihood and to help them to avoid migrating, UWBe has initiated several initiatives. Rooftop rainwater harvesting is probably the most important. With the objective to collect rain water for drinking and household purposes, UWBe has supported 350 families with rooftop rainwater harvesting structures. Each unit has the capacity to collect 4000 litres of water which in a given rain year will collect about 12000 ltrs. The families are now water secure. They were otherwise struggling to fetch water from common sources which were getting depleted.
In the future:
- Watershed for farmlands: Under this project 150 farmers will be supported for farm bunding, bund plantation and organic farming.
- Waste management: This is aimed to keeping the hill clean and tide by collecting, segregating and recycling the waste
- Restoration of armory: There is a armoury on the hill top will is being surveyed for renovation to keep it as a heritage spot.
- Construction of public toilet at Nandi Village: To ensure public health and hygiene, we will be constructing toilets at Nandi Village.
In partnership with: