Environment

Reviving Erumaalan Kuttai in Coimbatore

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Sometimes all it requires is determination and the support of well wishers to clean up a pond or two, says R Karpagam who has revived Erumaalan Kuttai, and has plans to do more

R Karpagam grows around 100 plants on her terrace. “My parents had a transferable job and we lived in many cities. I have always loved plants and I remember creating gardens in front of every house that I lived. I think it was natural for me to end up working to conserve the environment.” This 53-year-old is the founder of Oli Awareness Movement, an environmental NGO that has recently revived the Erumaalan Kuttai at Narasipuram village. “The pond is located in the foothills of Perumalmudi hills. This one and a half acre water body was the primary water source for 75 families in the locality. I have a farmhouse in the area and have seen how the pond deteriorated, was filled with waste and had weak bunds that never retained water inside. All this in a span of 10 years.”

Reviving Erumaalan Kuttai in Coimbatore

She speaks of two more ponds, Poonguttai and Oorkuttai. “These ponds depended on the run-off water from Erumaalan Kuttai. There were two channels that connected these ponds. But they were also choked with waste and did not let the water flow. This affected the agriculture in the area and many farmers decided to sell their land. The ponds had run dry.” Karpagam felt she had to do something and decided that getting government permission to revive the pond was a good start. “But it was not easy. It took me two years to get it sanctioned. I crowd-funded ₹80000 from friends. But that was not enough to cover the expenses of revival. M Marappan, the secretary of Vellimalai Pattanam Panchayath suggestedI meet SP Velumani, Local Administration Minister.” This was the turning point. He asked another NGO called Nallaram to assist her. “We started the work in July. We de-silted Erumaalan Kuttai, made it three metres deeper and raised the bunds. We also cleared the water channels, ” she says.

Reviving Erumaalan Kuttai in Coimbatore

To reduce the evaporationfrom the pond, Karpagam planted 100 native trees along the bunds. “I have selected a mix of medicinal, flowering and fruit bearing trees. It includes pongam, neem, jamun, sarakondai and sorgam. We have also set up tree guards made of iron rods and use a drip irrigation system. I go there once a month to check on the plants and the pond.” It took them two months to complete the process. “The Erumaalan Kuttai is now filled up after two years. Once the water overflows, it will fill Poonguttai and Oorkuttai. The farmers who had earlier given up farming have now gone back to it. It feels good when you know that you have made an impact,” she smiles. Karpagam has plans to revive three public wells at Selambanur and Tennamanellur. “These wells are not very far from the ponds. Once these wells are cleaned, they will act as recharge pits for the bore-wells in the area. I hope to start the work soon.”

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 7:12:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/reviving-erumaalan-kuttai-in-coimbatore/article30106505.ece

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