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Rs 2.7-crore ‘Niagara Falls’ checks in but historic Javaraya Falls is dead

An environmentalist aware of the project, who did not want to be named, called this a shoddy temporary fix. “Anyone can pump water through artificially cemented rocks.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Jan 08, 2018, 11.02 AM IST
BENGALURU: This Republic Day flower show at Lalbagh will also mark the inauguration of the mini ‘Niagara Falls’. The horticulture department is spending Rs 2.7 crore for the artificial waterfall, dropping down from a height of 25 feet and a width of 120 feet. Ironically, as this plan comes close to completion, the Javaraya Falls, which was the first-of-its-kind aesthetic water cascade created in Lalbagh in the 1930s, is dead.

“In 2015, the Horticulture Department estimated an expenditure of ?3 lakh to restore the falls, which my family volunteered to contribute for the sake of our ancestor’s legacy. However, we stopped paying as we realised that officials had no intentions of taking the project forward,” said Harish J Padmanabha, Rao Bahadur HC Javaraya’s grandson.

During his tenure as Lalbagh’s director from 1932 to 1944, HC Javaraya designed an ingenious waterfall where water from the Lalbagh lake would be released through a valve, which would flow under the road into a heightened trough. There, a cascade with four levels of natural stone slabs (one below another) would lead water into the lotus pond.

“The natural water flow stopped because the valves and pipes were not maintained. The water dried up and the officials also removed those stone slabs at the cascade,” said Padmanabha, questioning why officials did not bother with timely conservation that would have barely cost them a few lakhs.

Art historian Suresh Jayaram called Javaraya Falls a “compact engineering marvel scarred with neglect.” The recent destruction of the Krumbiegel Hall and deterioration of other botanical and architectural assets at Lalbagh, he said, are a disturbing trend that calls for greater official accountability and expert intervention for maintenance of assets. “We have to keep the historical context of the place intact.”

When ET inspected the waterfall on Friday, it was dysfunctional. Dr Jagadeesh, joint director of horticulture (parks & gardens), claimed that they will “revive the waterfall next week and have started working towards it.” However, instead of water flowing from the lake to the lotus pond as per Javaraya’s original design, water pumped from the lotus pond will flow through the cascade and go back into the pond itself. “A 10-HP motor will pump water but it will stop every hour as it cannot run continuously,” Dr Jagadeesh said, adding that Rs 6 lakh was earmarked for its revival and beautification.

An environmentalist aware of the project, who did not want to be named, called this a shoddy temporary fix. “Anyone can pump water through artificially cemented rocks. This is not the natural flow of the stream and defeats the aesthetic purpose of the original waterfall. It simply indicates that officials are only looking at an immediate fixes that are incongruous with natural surroundings.”

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