A new life

Work in progress at the Mariamman Kovil Kuttai and the Oorani Kuttai

Work in progress at the Mariamman Kovil Kuttai and the Oorani Kuttai

“Water is scarce. I buy two tankers every month for ₹1600. It is barely enough for the family and our cows, but we manage,” says Murugayya S, a farmer who lives on the bank of the Mariyamman Kovil Kuttai at Mandrampalayam. Murugayya grows mochai and uzhundu and says that he depends on rain for his farming as the pond dried up years ago. The pond has been revived thanks to the NGO Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI), which is reviving seven ponds in the Kinathukadavu block along with the Coimbatore district administration. “If this will bring us water, it will save us a lot of money. My yield will also improve. I am waiting for the monsoon to see the result,” says Murugayya.

The team started work on the pond two months ago. “The Coimbatore local administration suggested the ponds we should work on. In addition to the Mariamman Kovil Kuttai, we have Mahaliyamman Kovil Kuttai at Arasampalayam, Vayakadu Kuttai at Vadasithur, Senguttai at Kattampatti, Oorani Kuttai at Mettuvavi, Govindapuram Kuttai and AD Colony Kuttai at Kakadavu in the list,” says Sanjay Prasad, environmental head of EFI.

While Mariyamman Kovil Kuttai and Senguttai have been restored, the work at Oorani Kuttai is ongoing. Velusami R, a local resident says that 40 years ago, the Oorani Kuttai had water in it during monsoon. “Then it dried up and we dug wells. They eventually dried up too and we dug borewells—first at a depth of 400 ft, then 800 ft and now at 1000 ft.” The team took between 20 and 30 days to complete the work at Mariyamman Kovil Kuttai and Senguttai respectively. “The time depends on the size of the pond and the type of soil in it,” says Sanjay

The ponds in this region receive water from the Walayar-Kinathukadavu sub-basin. “The inlets into the ponds were clogged with garbage and we cleaned it.” Invasive plants like unni chedi and seemi karuvelam had taken them over. “We cleared those out and desilted the ponds. The ponds became an additional three feet deeper. Desilting is important as it increases the water holding capacity of the water body. Earlier, it was done manually by the local communities themselves during summers. The farmers solely depended on this water for irrigation. Preparing ponds for the coming monsoon was a part of their lives. With the introduction of wells and bore wells, this practice was forgotten,” says Sanjay.

After desilting, the team has created recharge pits in the ponds. “These are three-feet-deep pits dug in the centre. It ensures that the water stay inside the pond and does not flow away.” The bunds are also strengthened.“The bunds increase the water-pressure and improve water percolation. Once the ground water is recharged, the nearby wells and bore wells will also have water.”

Sanjay says that he plans to paint walls with information on how to take care of the ponds. Native varieties of trees and plants including lemongrass, neem, vettiver, vadamalli , pungai, manathakali and jambolan will be planted along the bunds before the monsoon. “The roots of these native species will not let silt flow into the pond and will hold the soil in place. We plan to work with the local community in taking care of the ponds and the plantations,” he says.

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Printable version | May 29, 2022 5:13:14 am | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/people-in-the-kinathukadavu-block-look-forward-to-the-monsoons-as-they-will-know-if-the-revival-work-on-the-waterbodies-in-their-area-will-bear-fruit/article26578318.ece