Mangaluru ‘Tunnel man’ selected for Press Club Award

Mangaluru ‘Tunnel man’ selected for Press Club Award

Mahalinga Naik near a water tank that stores water from the tunnel.

Mahalinga Naik (73), a man who had single-handedly dug tunnel after tunnel, before finding water in the sixth tunnel, later built walls, percolation pits and tanks to store water and converted a piece of barren land into a green patch, has been selected for the Mangaluru Press Club Award 2018.

A committee, led by Professor Balakrishna Gatti, Vasanth Kumar Perla and Dr Nagaveni Manchi, has selected Naik for the award.

The award will be presented to Naik at Mangaluru Press Club Day programme, to be held at Urwa Church Hall in Ladyhill on January 5, 2019.

Naik is a one-man army. Forty years ago, local landlord Mahabala Bhat, who was impressed by the hard work of Naik, a daily wage labourer, gave him two acres of land at Amai near Adyanadka. It was a challenge for Naik to take up farming on the barren land. But he did not keep quiet.

The land did not have any source of water. Digging a well was beyond his limit as he could not afford to spend money on the well. So, he started digging a tunnel horizontally at the bottom of a hill. He used to work at plantations during the day and dug his land at night and after his work for water. Initially, he dug 30 metres long tunnel which failed to fetch him water. Undeterred, he continued his effort and dug one after another 25 to 30 metre-long tunnels. Finally, in his sixth attempt, he was able to get water after digging 25 metre-long tunnel. 

After realising that the available water was not sufficient to take up farming, he dug further for 75 metres and received sufficient water. To store the water, he constructed a tank. Later, he levelled the land and took up paddy, arecanut, coconut and banana cultivation.

Water from the tunnel flows to a storage tank through gravitational force. Subsequently, the water flows to another huge clay-pond and then flows to his arecanut plantation.After he accidentally fell from a coconut tree 14 years ago, he stopped the work on climbing arecanut and coconut trees to pluck coconuts and arecanuts.

Naik cultivates arecanut, coconut, banana, and black pepper on one-acre land and has developed a forest in another acre land by planting cashew plants.

There are 300 arecanut trees, 75 coconut trees, 200 banana plants in his farmland. He uses only organic manure for his farmland. Further, he has dug percolation pits to store rainwater as well.

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