Arid regions in Tiruvannamalai district can meet their water needs as work on converting the existing defunct borewells and handpumps into recharge water shafts has begun.
Officials of Department of Rural Development (RD) said the water shafts will help to tap excess rainwater to recharge ground water in the drought hit areas. Most of the defunct borewells and handpumps were laid a decade ago and were not in use for at least four years. “Many defunct borewells and handpumps remain idle. Through the initiative, we are putting them in use again for water conservation,” R. Arun, Assistant Project Officer, NREGA, told The Hindu.
At present, Tiruvannamalai has 15,000 - 20,000 borewells and hand pumps for public use. Of this, 15-20 percent are defunct, mainly due to low groundwater level. In the first phase, 1,333 borewells and handpumps, covering 603 villages including 20 tribal hamlets in Jawadhu Hills will be covered. Each borewell was dug up to a depth of 900 feet in the district due to aridness of the region whereas pipelines for handpumps were laid only to a depth of 150 ft.
As a result, more defunct borewells are being converted into recharge shafts because excess rainwater can be tapped for a longer period. Women workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) have been roped for construction of recharge shafts.
Each recharge shaft will be three metres long and three metres wide with 2.5 metres in depth. New PVC pipes will be laid in the borewells and handpumps at least to depth of 10 ft, replacing the old rusted pipes. Blue metal and marbels will be laid around these borewells and handpumps with brick fencing. Each side of the brick fencing will have three small pipes to allow excess rainwater to seep into the defunct facilities that have holes in it. Each recharge shaft will cost Rs 50,000.
Collector B. Murugesh, who launched the initiative, will monitor the work that is being done by a team of officials led by P. Ramakrishnan, Executive Engineer (EE), Rural Development (Tiruvannamalai). The entire work will be completed in the next two weeks.
Some of the most arid regions like Chengam, Thandrampattu, Jawadhu Hills, Chetpet, Thiruchopuram will get benefitted. Of 14 panchayat unions in the district, Arani will get 124 recharge shafts, followed by Chengam (114) and Tiruvannamalai (107).