A river that matters


The Last Drop, a documentary on the Noyyal speaks of her history, source and the impact she has on the lands she flows through

The documentary The Last Drop, made by Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI), makes an urgent plea: “Youngsters should know where the water and food on their table comes from. Our generation should cut down on indiscriminate use of water and stop polluting the sources.” The EFI team spoke to students, home-makers in the city, and farmers in and around Coimbatore region about what Noyyal meant to them and what they thought about water conservation, for the documentary.

There are questions in the documentary that need addressing. For example, how has water shortage affected the farming community? A farmer from Malumichampatti near Pollachi recalls the good times when timely seasonal rains enabled agriculture. It was the time when the Noyyal flourished in all her glory. “All the water bodies were full and pollutant-free. Now the river is reduced to a sewage canal. There is drought even when it rains. Farmlands have dried up. The coconut groves have turned dry as trees have withered away. Farming communities are looking at alternative jobs for survival.”

A river that matters

G Sanjay Prasad, Chief Co-ordinator of the Chennai-based EFI that made the documentary says they work across eight states for wildlife conservation and habitat restoration.“Community engagement ensures that clean-up drives of water bodies are completed. People learn about a lake’s history, and also play an active role to protect it and the environment it supports. We have restored 83 water bodies across India starting with Keelkattalai lake in Chennai. We have to leave behind pollution-free air and clean water bodies for the future generation.” The documentary was shot over three weeks in and around the Western Ghats. The team followed Noyyal’s trail across Perur Puttuvikki, Madhampatty, and filmed at some of the wetlands like the Ukkadam tank.

The Last Drop highlights the Chithirai Chavadi anaicut, a 12 km canal that feeds the Noyyal tanks. Says Prasad, “It was one of the first structures that was built to divert water from the Noyyal for farming and to prevent flooding. It has 39 irrigation channels that supply water to the agriculture fields. The marks on the wall are a source of history. For example, we know that the HFL (High Flood Level) on June 9, 1941 was at 8.80 ft. Sadly, the structure is poorly maintained. There is excess silt and sand vents are in bad condition.”

A river that matters

Recently, Prasad took a team on a lake safari in this area covering Narasimpathy, Selvampathy, Kumaraswamy Tank, Selvachintamani Tank, Ukkadam and Kolarampathy. “On the first trip, there were 30 participants. For the second trip, 50 more joined us. Involving the public is the key to change. Muthannakulam or Kumarasamy Tank located near RS Puram on Thadagam Road was a dumping ground for discarded flowers, and idols. The spot-billed ducks and pelicans that visited the lake choked on these. We spoke to the corporation and arranged for bins to be placed at the lake. Now dumping into the lake has considerably reduced. Such clean-up drives are an eye-opener on how the water bodies are ill-treated.”

At the Vedapatti Lake, the volunteers have set up a bund to attracts birds. They took people on cycling safari around the lakes, planted saplings, painted messages on walls, and sensitised local communities through street theatre. At Gandhi Park, a team of children presented a play on environment conservation. EFI is also involved in mitigating elephant-train collisions.

A river that matters

The documentary offers nuggets of information about the Noyyal. One is on how the river got its name. It was originally called Kanchi Mahanadhi and, at the point where it joins the Cauvery is a village called Noyyal. Besides Noyyal, Coimbatore also has the Sanganur stream that originates near Thadagam, and the Koushika near Periyanaickenpalayam. Prasad shares how difficult it was to even locate the river Koushika.

Info you can use

The Last Drop is available on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/OO1MjLEpkqU

The team holds lake safaris and cycle safaris where they take the participants on a tour of the lake and introduce them to its bio diversity. They also encourage the team members in clean-up drives during the outing.

Download the EFA volunteers app to become a part of the Lake Safari across India

Other documentaries made by EFI are The Chennai Lakes, The Rivers and Pondy Lakes

For more details visit their page on Facebook, or e-mail: info@indianenvironment.org

You can also call them at 97873-02646

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 7:51:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/the-last-drop-a-documentary-on-the-noyyal-speaks-of-her-history-source-and-the-impact-she-has-on-the-lands-she-flows-through/article23696822.ece

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