A voice, water-wise

An embedded pit system to allow percolation. (DH Photo)

At daybreak every day, 64-year-old farmer and journalist Shree Padre, from Kasaragod, sends out his voice with a purpose.

He records an aspect of water conservation, packs it as an easy-to-understand information capsule, and uses WhatsApp for its distribution.

His subjects are diverse — it could be the math of calculating the amount of rainwater that falls on the roof, or the easy, practical steps of filtering rainwater. Sometimes, it’s just information: ‘In Gujarat and Rajasthan, some old houses have tankas, underground cisterns for storing rainwater. In Dwaraka, thousands of houses still have this traditional water-harvesting system. Some tankas are so big that they can store fresh water enough to last for two rain-deficit seasons,’ Padre is heard saying in one of the audio recordings.

The audio episodes have already crossed 123 and form the Neeriddare Naale initiative. The first 100 episodes are bunched up and made available on SoundCloud.  The episodes are now played on Radio Manipal.

“They mostly address the rural populace and rain-water harvesting practices in coastal Karnataka and low-rainfall areas, but there are principles that concern anybody, even urbanites. The voice notes go to various farmers’ groups and agricultural forums on WhatsApp. But they are also sent to those who ask for it,” explains Padre, whose specialty is ‘water conservation — rural and recharge’. He reasons that on the one hand we have sure, simple solutions to tackle drought, but on the other hand, we suffer from drought every year, it having been acute the past year. “This is the big problem now, and it’s unfortunate,” he says.

He hopes this effort will shake off lethargy people have about water conservation and propel them to always remember the importance of water.

Keshav Kumar from Mangaluru, after listening to one of the episodes of Neeriddare Naale, has experimented with an embedded pit system to enable rainwater percolation. He has dug up a border trench measuring about two metres. He says rainwater from two houses passes through the trench, and hopes to have similar smaller pits along the same line.

A techie-cum-farmer, Sudhir Kumar, from Perdoor, Udupi, says, “‘Neeriddare Naale’ has become my suprabhata. I forward them, too.”

Water conservationist and former principal Mohananarayana believes that Padre’s mahiti bindu (information) comes from a place of research and is hence valuable. “I’ve been conserving water for the last 25 years, and I continue to remain inspired by the kind of information he shares. I sometimes share it when I’m invited to talk on water conservation,” he says.

For Padre, Neeriddare Naale remains a “commitment to give back to the society.”

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