Chennai

Well done, dear farmer!

Besides irrigating a paddy field, an old open well in Melappedu meets the water needs of its residents

In a paddy field at Melappedu, 15 km from Avadi, 32 men hunkered down to the task of digging and constructing a well on a 70 sqft space. This work was carried out in 1983, and what came out of it now serves as a message for our water-scarce times.

The 39-feet-deep well, which is characterised by small-brick work and lime plastering, had been commissioned by M. Ellamuthu on his ten-acre farm land. Seventy-two years old now, Ellamuthu was then employed as a tailor with the Ordnance Clothing Factory in Avadi.

He however would find the time to grow rice on the farm land. The well has stood Ellamuthu the farmer in good stead over the years.

“My farm well has never run dry. It has always enabled me to irrigate my land for the entire cropping season (thrice a year),” says Ellamuthu, who continues to do farming, assisted by his 65-year-old wife E. Raniammal and son E. Baskar. They grow rice and vegetables.

The majority of the families in Melappedu (which has 150 families) make a living through agriculture. Rice is the main crop; and vegetable farming is also done by these farmers to supplement their income.

In Melappedu, the farmers are said to have switched to borewell nearly a decade ago, due to plummeting water levels in their open wells. Ellamuthu’s is said to be the lone agricultural well in the locality that still holds water.

Residents of Melappedu and those from adjoining Palaveddu and Alathur fetch water from the well every day for consumption. Water from this well is also used in work relating to laying of foundation for homes in the village.

“Closing old wells citing better utilisation of space is not a good idea. Such old wells can act as soak pits to store rainwater in residential colonies,” says Ellamuthu.

He is careful that the open well is not overexploited. On an average, the entire 10-acre farmland is irrigated only twice a day — two hours in morning and then in the evening.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 12:19:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/well-done-dear-farmer/article26745157.ece

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