Selvi and Ponmalar, young mothers with two children each, hail from agricultural families in Sandaipatti village near Morappur town in Dharmapuri district in the western part of the State.
While Selvi is an agricultural worker and a beneficiary of the 100-day rural job scheme, officially called Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Ponmalar’s family owns about 2.5 acres of land.
They differ from each other on several matters – for example, on the impact of the MGNREGS. But, when it comes to water, they are together. Six months ago, they went around their village as part of the community water walk to identify water resources.
It is not just that they are conscious of scarce availability of water in their village but also they are aware of using tools such as water budgeting. Besides, they are getting sensitised to various ways to save water.
Water security plan
They are all part of a team, Community Change Management Group (CCMG), which takes upon itself the task of drawing up a water security plan for the Sandaipatti village. The CCMG includes both the young and the old, members of water users’ associations, retired government employees or teachers and Dalits.
One may not have to be surprised about the kind of interest shown by Selvi and Ponmalar in water issues as their district is known for water shortage, both in quantity and quality. [Their block, Morappur, notorious for overextraction of groundwater resources, has been chosen by the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation for a two-year project to achieve drinking water security in a holistic manner]. But, what is refreshing is that even in areas, known for high rainfall or better water availability, the idea of water conservation is catching up, as evident in the Kilathivakkam village of Acharapakkam block in Kancheepuram district.
A. Govindasamy, president of the water users’ association in the village, feels that better water management practices not only lead to saving water but also saving money, especially for farmers. After taking to the System of Rice Intensification he now uses three kg of seeds per acre whereas, till recently, he was using 30 to 35 kg.
In the nearby Keezhmaruvathur, Baskara Reddiar and his entire family are an example of how higher productivity can be achieved, using less water.
Terms like micro irrigation, precision farming and drip fertigation, a practice of conjunctive application of fertilizers and water to crop plants, are no longer Latin to Govindasamy, Baskara Reddiar, Selvi and Ponmanlar.
Sandaipatti and Kilathivakkam are among 200 villages spread over six districts which have been identified for the programme - Model Villages of the Blue Green Movement.