NGO on a mission to revive Ramanathapuram district’s lakes

Updated - April 05, 2023 12:28 pm IST

Published - April 04, 2023 05:11 pm IST - TIRUCHI

An aerial overview of the Keninkarai lake that has been earmarked for replenishment along with five other waterbodies in Ramanathapuram district.

An aerial overview of the Keninkarai lake that has been earmarked for replenishment along with five other waterbodies in Ramanathapuram district. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Thanjavur-based environmentalist Nimal Raghavan, whose work in restoration of waterbodies across Tamil Nadu has won him many plaudits, felt that it was time he focused his efforts closer home, on the arid district of Ramanathapuram.

Staying just two hours away in Peravurani in Thanjavur district, the activist, who runs the NGO Mega Foundations, said that he had always been pained to see men, women and children pushing handcarts with water pots over long stretches of the highway when travelling to Ramanathapuram.

“So many people are suffering due to a lack of water, and seem to be spending all their time queuing up for it here. Chronic water shortage has an adverse effect on school attendance, agriculture and community health,” Mr. Raghavan told The Hindu over phone from Kenya, where he is participating in a programme to clean up waterbodies.

In Ramanathapuram, the Mega Foundations team has identified six dormant waterbodies in Mangalanathan Kanmai, Kottakudi, Kenikarai, Pandukudi, Paambu and Ervaadi that will be revived in a sustainable manner with local participation.

However, the team has hit a roadblock with funding the project, which involves desilting the lakes, connecting inlets and outlets, strengthening lake walls, preventing the seepage of saltwater and planting native saplings along the boundaries.

As a result, Mr. Raghavan put out an appeal in mid-March on crowd-funding site “We have got over 40 donors who have responded, but we will still need substantial financial aid to successfully complete the cleanup in Ramanathapuram district,” he said.

According to budget estimates provided on the Milaap page, cleaning the six lakes will cost anywhere between ₹5 lakh to ₹15 lakh. The Kenikkarai lake, for example, is spread across seven acres, and will need ₹15 lakh to be desilted and refilled with 12 crore litres of water. “We are piping in water here from another source, so this will take up more funding. But it could benefit 4,000 farmers once it is done,” said Mr. Raghavan.

As of now, Nanban Foundation, Mothers for Mother Nature, USA, has sponsored an excavator for the effort. But a project of this size will need at least one more excavator and funds for overheads such as labour, fuel and material costs.

Mr. Raghavan gave up his job as a software engineer in Dubai to help his village recover from the devastation caused by Gaja cyclone in 2018. He is confident of succeeding in his latest mission. “We hope to make the public understand that Ramanathapuram will change for the better once the waterbodies are cleaned up. It is difficult, but not impossible,” he said.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.