Abandoned wells, now sources of freshwater

Abandoned wells, now sources of freshwater

Volunteers cleaning a well in Jeerigiwada. The well was not in use for 30 years. Photos by author

“Water is the most precious natural resource and is more important than land. We need to conserve our ponds, as we can’t depend on outside water sources any more,” said a progressive organic farmer from Mandihal village in Dharwad.

“We may have good land and fertile soil but if there isn’t sufficient water, life will get tougher for a farmer,” added R G Timmapur, a noted ornithologist-turned-farmer in Belagavi district.

They were among the like-minded people were sharing their views on the imminent water crisis in Dharwad and planning ways to address the situation. 

The discussions held a few months ago triggered another participant, Prabhakar Deshpande to act on it and rejuvenate the water bodies in his village, Jeerigiwada in Dharwad district.

Prabhakar went ahead and motivated his friends to clean two abandoned wells which were used to dump waste, before the onset of monsoon and bring them back to life. They formed a team and pursued the work.

Team effort

Prabhakar with the help of core team members took up the task of planning, scheduling and assuring utmost safety to everybody involved in the mission.

From 6 am to 1 pm, 10 volunteers worked for 12 days to turn these neglected wells to sources of potable water.

Each volunteer took up a particular responsibility: Shrishail Rabbanni brought strong ropes along with auger driller; Shivarudra Hongal took the responsibility of cutting thorny bushes and branches of trees covering the wells; Ramu Belawadi brought baskets to carry the waste collected from the wells; Moula Nadaf came with scoop digger; Siddu Patil and Manjunath Burli took the responsibility of transporting the collected waste to the village dump yard. Prakash Samboji and Maruti Pomoji brought brooms to clean up the entire surroundings of the wells. Muttu Horakeri made arrangements for refreshments.

Their efforts earned them praises from village elders who had initially termed the exercise as a gimmick. Towards the end, the villagers themselves provided breakfast, tea and lunch for all the volunteers.

The volunteers invested just Rs 3,000 to clean both the wells that have now become sites worth visiting in Jeerigiwada.

People of the village have begun drawing freshwater from these wells for domestic use.

Apart from restoring traditional water bodies, such local efforts bring awareness about the importance of conserving water among youngsters, motivating communities to own water bodies, carry on conservation efforts without depending on government or outside support. 

Rain pattern has altered and erratic rains are severely affecting our farmers, mainly those who do rain-fed farming. This calls for us to collect, save, use, reuse and recycle water.