Water scarcity has become a unifying factor for Nellikkode village. The reason, a group of local youngsters under the banner of ‘Nattuvelicham,’ a registered society with 152 members.
Fed up by the apathy of authorities to supply drinking water to the parched village, the young men of Nattuvelicham hit upon a simple plan. To take water from the haves and distribute it to the have-nots, free of cost.
To their surprise, the plan has become a roaring success in the village.
Several households who have enough water to spare have willingly allowed Nattuvelicham members to draw from their wells and distribute it to over 500 families with no resource or access to water in the village.
For the past fortnight, Nattuvelicham has been able to distribute up to 30,000 litres of water a day in Nellikkode, a village thickly packed with hillocks and steep climbs.
“The pick-up truck rent, diesel, water tanks, and three motors cost us a total of Rs.5,000 each day. We pool it from the members,” K.M. Suneesh, one of the members of the society, said.
In the background, the vehicle is making its perilous climb up the Adampattu hillock even as families wait with buckets. It has to make six such uphill journeys a day.
“We have 20 separate routes to ply, all of them steep climbs. We have made a 25-member volunteer corps in the society, devoted to this purpose. They work in four-member shifts. Most of us are daily-wage labourers. The members who are assigned duty for the day take leave from their work and distribute water,” Satheesan T., a member, said.
Narayanan N., another society member, said that villagers, across financial barriers, had lent them support.
“Even if two refuse to give water and send us off, five others will come forward. Till date, our work has not been interrupted because of lack of water supply,” he said.
“You see the Corporation tap on the slope, at times water suddenly comes out of it like a string. Usually, this happens at 3 a.m. in the morning. Earlier, we used to wait by it all night like fools, waiting for water. But now we mostly let it be,” Radhakrishnan Nair, a resident, said.
Mr. Nair admitted that once he got so desperate that he dug a 350-feet borewell but still could not find a drop of water. He said authorities found the climb too steep to bother.
“They come to bill us for water used. The only thing that comes out of our taps is air. We pay for air here,” he said.