Hyderabad: The 63 Nizam-era massive wells that once served as drinking water sources are today lying in neglect, covered with garbage and debris. Experts say that these wells can be transformed into water harvesting pits to recharge groundwater if the municipal bodies maintain them.
Some of the wells are Rajanna Bowli at Jahannam Falaknuma, Singhum Bavi near Devuni Kunta in Serilingampally, Neher Hussaini near Bum Rukun-ud-Dowla opposite the National Police Academy, the bowli inside Unani Dawakhana near Charminar, and another one inside Eflu premises.
Dr Lubna Sarwath of SOUL, a city-based lake conservation society, said, “Rajanna Bowli is a historic well opposite a temple in Jahannam near Falaknuma. This huge well is known to have eight other wells inside.
But garbage, festival remains etc. are thrown inside and outside the well. Residents are divided regarding closing the well. They are desperate as the well has become a source for mosquitoes as sewage is also being let into the well.”
“Neher-e-Hussaini is the queen of all the historic wells of our city. It is of a ‘bay’ shape, the second letter of the Urdu/Arabic alphabet. This is just behind the bund of the historic 102-acre Bum-Rukn-ud-Dowla Lake, near National Police Academy. Nawabs of Hyderabad used to carry the mineral-rich water of Neher Hussaini along with them when they travelled out of Hyderabad.”
Another member of the society, S. Chakri, added , “Water from these water bodies used to be drawn for the fort use as well. Irrigation officials themselves enlightened us that underground springs feed these wells and talabs and are exceptionally mineral-rich. Sigham Bavi near Devuni Kunta, Nallagandla Serilingampally is under threat of extinction due to road expansion. Large parts are already landfilled. The ancient pulley system to draw water is still present at the well.”
“Right in the heart of the city is a well from which you can scoop the elixir of life directly with no fears of pollution. It is appalling that such rare sources of water are not under the official radar. This is the ancient bowli inside Unani Dawakhana or Government Unani Hospital near Charminar.”
Yet another historic well is in the Eflu campus. This well, with stone steps, is dry and has become a garbage dump site. Dr B.V. Subba Rao said, “Wells act as storage tanks plus they serve the community and also channel rainwater into the ground. Earlier many wells were made of limestone, no contamination, people depended on them mainly for drinking. These massive man-made wells can serve as modern rainwater harvesting pits if well-maintained.”
A former member of the HMDA Heritage Committee said, “The Heritage Conservation List only includes buildings, no lakes or water bodies including wells have been listed. The list is divided into three grades, all consisting of buildings.” Meanwhile, GHMC and the Ground Water department authorities state that they have no role in well conservation....