In Padre village, on the Kerala border, talk over the past couple of months hasn’t been about the Lok Sabha polls, but about the 8-km-long ‘Swarga Thodu’, a rivulet, going dry for the first time.
Despite being shocked by the development, the villagers have been quick to start an effort to revive the rivulet, which is the lifeline of the village. After making three rounds along the thodu in the past fortnight to study the situation, a group of like-minded villagers have realised that of the over 20 traditional ‘ kattas’ (water storage mud bunds), many have disappeared over the years, leaving only eight, which have also gone dry now. They have prepared a three-step action plan to revive the rivulet along with its 2-km tributary.
As the first step, the kattas lost will be rebuilt from the coming November through ‘ shramdan ’ and pooling of materials and resources without seeking anything from the government.
People will make a round along the tributary on Tuesday, said Shree Padre, a crusader of many water conservation movements and the brain behind the initiative.
Mr. Padre, who is also executive editor of Adike Pathrike , told The Hindu that rainwater on the upper ridges of the village would be harvested as the second step next year. The rainwater will be made to percolate to the ground by adopting site-specific harvesting methods. It is to prevent flow of mud to the rivulets during heavy rains and make the “shallow aquifer” hold water. With this, clean water can flow into the rivulets during summer. As the third step, in the third year, the team will go door to door, appealing to people to draw water from borewells as a last resort. They will be urged to draw water from open wells, tanks and ‘ surangas’ (tunnel wells).
The water-rich village, wit h the ‘thodu’ being the ‘ swarga ’ (heaven) of the village, has witnessed an unprecedented drought this year, leading to the drying up of many open wells and borewells, he said. “We are acting before we get to the finish line,” Mr. Padre said.
Sajangadde Srihari Bhat, coordinator of the project, said more than 100 farmer families, having land holdings between two and 10 acres, and farm labourers depend on the main rivulet. “ Kattas will help to hold water like a sponge in the summer,” he said, adding that a WhatsApp group has been formed specifically for the revival project.