15 years ago, Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu was a familiar terrain of lush green land. The story is completely different today with pockets of barren land. Unscientific handling of resources and lack of maintenance of some canals in the Naganadhi river are reasons that are cited for this change.
Yet the Naganadhi river is the lifeline of Thiruvannamalai. Rising from the Jwwadhu hills in Vellore district and it moves to Kancheepuram district before merging with the Palar river.
Since September, 2014, a team of volunteers from The Art of Living has taken upon itself to increase the ground water levels of water in the Naganadhi river and has started work in Thiruvannamalai and Vellore.
Rejuvenating the ‘Upanadis’ like Naaganadhi would ultimately contribute to rejuvenating the Palar river that has a catchment area of about 15,000 sq.km.
The first rains in the area after construction of recharge wells and boulder checks have borne results. Seven open wells that were dry for years are now holding water.
Annamalai, farmer from Salamanatham village shares that his well had run dry for the last five years. The 32 feet deep well is now cupping water up to 26 feet because ground water has been recharged. Similarly, Balaraman another farmer from the same village says that he sees 30 feet of water in his 45 feet deep well that was parched for the last three years.
The Public Works Department’s (PWD’s) borewells that supply drinking water to homes now have continuous supply of water. Previously, the water supply used to be infrequent.
In the first phase of the project work has been planned in 69 villages. Work in Salamatham village has been completed and work has started in Kamavanpete village. In this village the construction of 4 recharge wells is ongoing.
The progress so far is as follows:
Reached out to more than 5000 people across 2 villages
Constructed 15 recharge wells
Built 3 boulder check dams
Organized 1 self-help group of women involved in the manufacture of cement rings that are used to make storage wells
Planted 1000 Lakshmi Taru trees that help maintain high ground water levels and fertility in soil
The rain water gets collected in small streams that flow towards the river. We constructed recharge wells along every 100 meters of these streams. This helped the water to percolate into the soil and raised the ground water level.
In many places across the country, people are in need for convenient access to water. While the Government Public Works Department is doing its bit, we can also build capacity and find solutions to our water problems.
Each village would require 30 recharge wells and 30 boulder checks. We are looking for partners who can provide support to procure recharge bore wells, water pools and saplings. Help in funding diesel or electric drilling machinery is also required.
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