Ponds get lease of life with community participation

Rejuvenated pond at Vadaku Panaiyur village in Nagapattinam district.

The pond in Vadaku Panaiyur is brimming with water, bringing smiles on the faces of farmers and others who depend on the waterbody for drinking and irrigation purposes.

Not just the pond in Vadaku Panaiyur village in Nagapattinam district in the Cauvery delta region of Tamil Nadu, but three other water bodies have also been restored and 36 others are waiting to be desilted and cleaned, thanks to an NGO, Dreams Alive.

Not just this NGO, there are several groups across Tamil Nadu that have desilted lakes and rejuvenated ponds in villages in Vellore, Coimbatore, Tiruppur and Kancheepuram districts in the state with active community participation.

Dreams Alive is run by a group of six young people, mostly software engineers, who contributed money spent on tea and snacks every day to bring in a change in society. The youngsters, who were sponsoring education to several unprivileged children, are now focussing on reviving ponds and lakes in the drought-prone Nagapattinam district.

In Vadaku Panaiyur, the lake that has now been restored is the only source for drinking and agriculture purposes. “While the youngsters gave us Rs 1 lakh, villagers pooled in some money, took a portion of the temple fund and contributed Rs 1.5 lakhs for restoration of ponds. The entire work cost us only Rs 2.5 lakhs, but the work was completed in just about a month,” G Durairaj, a farmer and a resident of the village, told DH.

Another farmer, R Govindaraj, said the groundwater level in the village is more than last year’s level, which is good news for the entire hamlet. “Even when the monsoon isn’t good, the village has enough water since the pond has been desilted and can store enough water,” he said.

The organisation has identified another 36 ponds and lakes for restoration and is mobilising funds. Veera Kumar, one of the key persons behind Dreams Alive, told DH that the journey of serving the society started with donating biscuits, fruits and vegetables to orphanages and old age homes. Now they do everything from cleaning lakes to helping rehabilitate the people affected by natural calamities.

‘Cauvery’ S Dhanapalan, General Secretary of Cauvery Farmers’ Protection Association, said there are several organisations that help villagers restore their waterbodies. “With participation from such organisations, we are able to save our water bodies. Such organisations should be encouraged because they do what the government should ideally be doing,” Dhanapalan said.

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