For taking pictures of a police station in his native village, Kanadukathan, S.Nachiappan and two of his friends almost got arrested. They were let off only after one of them produced a college identity card.Their activities may have appeared suspicious, but Nachiappan, S.R.Ajay Shankar and S.Varun were merely collecting content for a website they were preparing on their village. This group from A.C.College of Engineering and Technology, Karaikudi, won the second place in the ‘Namma Ooru Website Creation Competition'.

From the same college, D.Karthikk, R.Meenakshi and P.K.Madhumathi won the first place for the website on Puduvayal in Sivaganga district. “I think the section of the website we dedicated to pollution levels in the area is what won us the first place,” said Meenakshi.

“We did not just give a synopsis of the area but we provided new ideas and solutions for the local problems,” Karthikk added. The third place went to the students of Pannai College of Engineering for the website they made of Iyyampalayam.

The ‘Namma Ooru Website' initiative, organised jointly by IIT Madras' Rural Technology and Business Incubator (RTBi) and the National Internet Exchange of India (NiXi), started as a tool to disseminate village-specific information and create a identity for villages. “This was achieved by empowering educational institutions in various towns of Tamil Nadu in using information and communication technology tools,” said Suma Prashanth, vice-president (exploratory initiatives), RTBi.

The initiative saw 153 students from 13 colleges and 12 village youth groups participate. At the award ceremony here on Saturday, IIT-M director Bhaskar Ramamurthi spoke. NiXi senior director Govind and adviser K.B. Narayanan, Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation Ltd. Chairman and Managing Director Sheela Rani Chunkath, FoodKing CEO Sarath Babu and BigFM RJ Balaji Patturaj participated.