Writer Ashokamitran's son restores a tank in Cuddalore as tribute to his father
Ravishankar, son of author Ashokamitran, started the project jointly with an NGO
Writer Ashokamitran’s Thanneer, published in 1973, portrayed the severe water scarcity and travails faced by middle class residents from a neighbourhood in Chennai.
Inspired by the writer’s works, his eldest son, in association with a non-governmental organization, restored a tank in Cuddalore district by paying a fitting homage to his father’s lofty ideals.
For Ravishankar Thyagarajan, a bank manager in Chennai, the inspiration to give a makeover of the tank came from the sustained concern and attention his father had during the severe water crisis in Chennai in the 1970s.
The Pillaiyar Kovil Kulam at Kumudimoolai village in Cuddalore, which was in disuse and covered with vegetation, was restored by Mr. Ravishankar as a tribute to his late father, who would have turned 90 on September 22.
He had visited Cuddalore to inaugurate a ecosan toilet for villagers through Sanitation India, an NGO, when he came to know about the waterbodies lying in disuse due to lack of maintenance and encroachments. As a child, Mr. Ravishankar had personally experienced the severe water crisis in Chennai and grew up listening to his father about the need for using water prudently.
Sanitation India mentioned about the Pillaiyar Kovil Kulam lying in disuse and Mr. Ravishankar decided to rejuvenate it. “It was a seasonal pond, and the restoration work began in 2019. The first phase was completed by December 2019. No work was carried out in 2020 due to the pandemic and the tank was completed in 2021. The tank can hold up to 3.5 million litres of water,” he says.
According to Padmapriya Baskaran, chief executive of the Sanitation First, the tank was in bad shape and the inlets, outlets and bunds were broken. Restoration first began on the northern side with the inlets and outlets being rebuilt. A soak pit was built in the middle of the tank. The first phase was completed in 2019 and work began on the eastern side in 2021. The southern side of the tank had remained intact.
Ms. Padmapriya recalled that Ashokamitran settled in T. Nagar when he had come to Chennai in 1952.
There was an acute water shortage in the city, and he saw how women struggled to get even one bucket of water for drinking.