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TBI Is Helping 20,000 Villagers in Tamil Nadu Fight Drought. Here’s How You Can Impact Lives.

The Better India, along with the Environmentalist Foundation of India, is fighting the severe drought in Tamil Nadu by restoring ponds in Nagapattinam, one of the worst-hit districts in the state.

Along with summer come water woes. Water scarcity and scorching heat arrive in unison, making day-to-day living difficult for many. Farmers are among the worst affected, who face the dual scarcity of irrigation as well as drinking water when bore wells, lakes, ponds, rivers and rivulets dry up in tandem with each other.

The challenges are huge, but all one needs to begin with is the first step.

Representational image. Source: By Gaurav Bhosle, via Wikimedia Commons

The Better India, along with The Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI), is taking that first step to help over 20,000 residents of the Nagapattinam district in Tamil Nadu. The mission is to fight drought with a water body restoration campaign that will focus on cleaning, desilting, deepening and restoring two ponds in Nagapattinam.

EFI was founded by Arun Krishnamurthy in 2007 in Chennai and over the last 10 years, the organisation has restored 39 lakes and 48 ponds in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra, Telangana, Puducherry and Gujarat.

Why Tamil Nadu? Why Nagapattinam?

All of Tamil Nadu’s 32 districts have been declared drought-affected. With rainfall having reduced by 62 per cent between 2016 and 2017, Tamil Nadu has seen the lowest rainfall in 140 years.


Also read: This Organisation Has Restored 39 Lakes in 10 Years. This Year, You Can Help Them Fight Drought!


The problem of water scarcity has persisted through the years. Over the last 25 years, the rainfall level in the state has gradually reduced. The reasons behind the severity and extent of drought are multifold: aberration in rainfall, overexploitation of ground water, lower reservoir levels and crop stress conditions. The sandy soil, predominantly found in the southeast part of Tamil Nadu, is prone to chronic droughts. Besides, the main crop of the farmers in this state is the water-intensive paddy.


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With the situation amplifying in gravity each passing day, Tamil Nadu witnessed 606 farmer suicides last year. Since October 2016, on an average two farmers have been committing suicides daily.

The Nagapattinam district is among the worst hit, having seen the maximum number of farmer suicides. Of the total 175,000 farmers in the district, 135,000 are paddy farmers. Due to acute water shortage, less than 20 per cent of the paddy sown has crossed the flowering stage. The rest is wasted, making the situation direr.

What is the plan of action?

Under the Fight Drought campaign, ponds that have been turned into garbage dumps are to be restored and transformed into viable water sources.

The Kiramaththu Medu- Thamarai pond in Keelvelur taluka (area: 2.5 acres) and the Thiruvaimur-Thamarai pond in Thirukuvalai taluka (area: 5 acres) will be restored.

Restoration work on the Ramanujar pond undertaken by EFI in Kanchipuram

To begin, the ponds will be cleaned by clearing out the garbage and removing weeds in and around the ponds. Once the cleaning is complete, the ponds will be desilted, following which a bund strengthening drive will take place and native species of plants will be planted to stabilise the packed bund.

“We are planning to involve the local community in activities like pond cleanup, bund plantation and maintenance, as well as creating wall paintings for awareness. This will encourage the feeling of ownership and responsibility among locals. We’ll also be conducting extensive and targeted awareness programmes in schools, colleges and self-help groups to encourage people to maintain the water bodies properly and conserve water in different ways,” informs Arun from EFI.

Up to 150 locals and EFI volunteers together will be overseeing the restoration of each pond. Native species like palm, neem, pongamia and magizham will be planted for strengthening the bund as well as around the lake.

How your action will impact lives:

The restoration will result in availability of water up to a distance of 850 m to 1 km directly, with an indirect impact in the range of 3 to 3.6 km. Once restored, the ponds will help 1,800 to 2,000 families in the long run with recharged groundwater in the region.

“The water bodies won’t simply ensure availability of water post monsoon, they’ll also be responsible for groundwater stabilisation, temperature regulation, prevention of waterborne diseases and prevention of natural calamities such as drought,” says Arun.

Apart from the said ponds in Nagapattinam, there are many other areas like Kilvelur, Kuthalam, Mayiladuthurai, Nagapattinam, Sirkali, Tharangambadi and Vedaranyam which are in dire need of such water body restoration initiatives, according to Arun.

“There’s so much to do. Drought prevention needs to be taken seriously. We’d love to restore more and more ponds and lakes in this region so as to ensure nobody needs to go miles for a drop of water,” he says.


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