Last month we received news that many regions of Tamil Nadu were reeling under severe water crisis due to almost total failure of rains. Failing agricultural crops and suffering cattle holdings had brought terrible sufferings to the local farmers. Drying up wells and ponds have added to the woes of poor people living in these areas.
Seeing the miserable plight of these poor and needy people, the Ramakrishna Mission Students’ Home, Chennai approached us with an initial proposal to aid some of these drought-affected villages. It was shortly found out that though the entire State is adversely affected by water scarcity, the impact is more in the delta areas of Tanjore, Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts. A pilot project was initially undertaken in these areas to ascertain the steps that might be taken to mitigate the water crisis to the extent possible. We identified three major operations which could vastly help the affected people – Pond-desilting, installation of Hand-drill bore-pumps and Cement-Ring-Well construction.
Desilting of ponds:
Many ponds in these areas have silted and dried up and therefore fallen into disuse. Most of them were being used as dumping grounds. So far, we have completed the desilting of 5 ponds (3 in Nagapattinam district and 2 in Thiruvarur district) in this area. We used earthmover machines to excavate the ponds and have used the excavated silt to strengthen the banks. The ponds have already started to fill up with ground water and will regain full shape in some time. Bathing ghats are also being repaired so that the local people may access the water easily. The ponds will help in raising the ground-water level of the area and will be used both for household and agricultural purpose. Nearly 2200 families living in nearby villages are benefitted by this project. Further projects are being undertaken.
Excavation of borewells and installing of hand-pumps:
We have excavated 9 borewells, along with hand-pumps, in 9 villages (3 in Nagapattinam district and 6 in Thiruvarur district). The borewells are providing drinking water to around 1380 families living in nearby areas. Further projects are being undertaken.
Excavation of cement-ring wells with hand-pumps:
We also undertook the excavation of 5 cement-ring borewells with hand-pumps in Nagapattinam district. The cement-ring borewells have a diameter of 3 feet and are 20 feet deep. These borewells are providing potable water to a total of 700 households living in nearby areas. Further projects are being undertaken.
Installation of deep-borewell
We have also installed a deep-borewell in Kodiyalathur village in Nagapattinam district. The deep-borewell (170 feet deep) is connected to a nearby overhead tank and will provide drinking water to 600 families in 4 surrounding hamlets. Deep-borewell projects will be undertaken only in certain areas depending on the gravity of the situation and the feasibility of the project.
After thorough study of the pilot project report and on the basis of survey of the affected areas conducted by our monks and volunteers, we have decided to take up about 50 villages (25 villages each in Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts) for this Drought Rehabilitation work. The project will be undertaken in phases and will be completed in 3 or 4 months. The exact drought rehabilitation operations to be taken up in each village will be decided according to the population, gravity of water scarcity and natural conditions.
Needless to mention, the magnitude of the problem is huge, but still, it is our wish to provide an immediate yet lasting succor to as many needy families as possible with our limited resources. The total maximum expenditure of the whole project is expected to come to around Rupees One Crore. The drought rehabilitation work will be further expanded depending upon the drought situation and the availability of funds.