Villages get infrastructure to conserve water and recharge wells

The district’s dry pockets in the Usilampatti and Sedapatti blocks are alive with development activity aimed at mitigating the hardship faced by drought-hit farmers. Watershed and percolation ponds are being created in these regions.

On the lines of initiatives taken by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and non-governmental organisations, the State government is establishing watershed projects to conserve water and prevent wastage.

“I am happy to see my well being recharged,” gushed Shankar of Adikaripatti in Sedapatti block. “Till last year, my 1.5-acre land and the well remained dry. There was no infrastructure to harvest rainwater. The construction of small ponds and check dams has helped in saving water.”

Rajammal of Thirumanickam village points to a pond measuring 40x40 metres with a depth of 1.5 metres in a poromboke land. “It is now full of water thanks to the recent rain. Earlier, the rainwater was stored only in the village tank. Now we have additional water thanks to the watershed project,” she says.

Four watershed projects are being carried out in Usilampatti, Sedapatti and Kottampatti blocks. Under the Western Ghats development programme, proposals have been forwarded to the Union government to establish check dams and farm ponds, according to Joint Director (Agriculture) Jayasingh Gnanadurai, who is also the project officer for the watershed development activities.

Establishing watershed projects in these dry zones has helped recharge wells and other water bodies. “Not only can water be drawn for irrigation, it can also be used for cattle,” said Deputy Director (Agriculture) and Project Manager (Tamil Nadu Watershed Development Agency) S. Kanagaraj.

For the first time, a watershed project has been developed in the reserve forest (RF) area in Alagapuri village in the Sedapatti block, says Executive Officer T. Valarmathi. Villagers have realised the benefits of water conservation after seeing the efficacy of these programmes,” she notes.

Following complaints from Alagapuri villagers of wildlife invasion of farmlands, a percolation pond was dug in the reserve forest area.

Saptur Range Officer Karumalaiyan said the three check dams and a percolation pond dug three months back would not only serve as waterholes for wild animals but also help recharge agricultural wells in the vicinity.

A. Anbalagan, a farmer of Alagapuri, recalled how wild boars damaged his three-acre sugarcane crop last season.

“Now water is stored in the percolation pond. For us, it is a new experience to see water being conserved. Let us hope the pond puts an end to incursion of wild animals into our agricultural lands.” He wants the government to compensate him for the loss of his sugarcane crop.

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