It may sound incredible. But it actually happens in several villages in Manapparai panchayat union. Instead of drawing water from an open well, water is fed into it from a nearby deep bore well.
Fifty-year-old M.Rasu keeps on counting the number of times water is puked into the open well at Seethapatti by a PVC pipe.
This happens once in about 10 minutes. The 200-metre-long pipe empties half-a-bucket of water from the nearby deep bore well into the open well.
Rasu waits for hours to switch on the drip irrigation system attached to the open well. This patient attempt is only to save the sugarcane shoots that have survived the onslaught the drought stalking the area.
Rasu is one among the many farmers who simply refuse to give up. Their primary concern is to save the surviving sugarcane and jasmine crops with the little water available. The money they spend is highly disproportionate to the yield they expect. But the satisfaction of saving the crop is the only reward they savour in this drought spell.
K.Senthil Kumar of Therkku Serpatti is under tremendous pressure to repay the loan taken for purchasing a tractor. With the tractor in disuse as the fields are barren, Senthil Kumar is now negotiating with bank officials to reschedule the loan or waive the interest. But this pressure did not discourage him from digging bore wells at 15 points in his village. He was lucky in one place where water was struck at a depth of 400 feet.
He uses an air compressor to pump water from the bore well and irrigates the jasmine field directly using a pipeline. This avoids absorption and evaporation of water. “I am not going to give up as agriculture is a matter of prestige for me and my family,” says Senthil Kumar, who is also one of the founders of Tamizhaga Eri Matrum Aatru Paasana Vivasayigal Sangam.
Farmers of a cluster of villages around Therkku Serpatti, mobilised by Senthil Kumar, dug up a new pond recently. But the pond remains dry as rain gods have repeatedly been playing truant.
The meagre rain that visited the area for two days last week gave false hopes of rejuvenating agriculture. It has helped in providing a semblance of green to an otherwise barren tract.
Residents of Therkku Serpatti, Vadakku Serpatti, Oothupatti, Chatrapatti, Seethapatti and Maravanur, which fall under Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s Srirangam Assembly constituency, fully depend on agriculture. Otherwise, they have to travel to nearby Tiruchi for employment in the construction industry.
The water table has gone to abysmal depths and digging deep bore wells is a costly proposition for them.
The Maravanur tank, which is the main water source for the region, has remained dry for the past eight years. The case of Rasu is an example of how even farm-friendly drip irrigation technology does not serve the purpose in the absence of water.
The sangam has been pleading with officials to recommend the construction of a canal from the Mayanur regulator to Ponnaniyar dam in Mugavanur village of Manapparai taluk to bring Cauvery water.
Water from Ponnaniyar dam can be fed into the ponds and lakes of Manapparai taluk through branch canals, thus helping recharge the groundwater.
Today there are only dry, deep open wells in the region. Weeds have started to grow in them, indicating that the traditional water sources are going to seed.