Over eight ancient, abandoned tanks in Tiruvannamalai, known as the temple town of Tamil Nadu were revived, thanks to the efforts of a group of 20-30 young and passionate individuals.
These water tanks were once used by priests in the temples to draw water for the first pooja of the day. But over the years they had turned into garbage dumps.
But the youngsters saw these tanks differently. “Many of us had seen these tanks brimming with water when we were children. As the years passed by, we saw these ancient tanks being abandoned,” said one of the team members M Poova Raghavan to the Times of India.
The group was angered at the state of the water tanks, which now looked like dump yards and even had waste drain water discharged into them. But instead of protesting about it on the streets, they decided to take the matter into their own hands and start a project to conserve these ancient water bodies.
When their pleas and appeals to the local civic bodies to clean Poomanthal Kulam went unheard, they decided to join hands and clean the kulam themselves.
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Dedicating over 34 weeks to clear the five-acre tank, along with college and school student volunteers, the group removed over 15 to 20 tonnes of waste, including plastic and medical wastes.
There was no looking back after reviving Poomanthal Kulam. They formalised the group by establishing a forum called ‘Neer Thuli’ which means ‘Water Drop’ to take their work forward.
Till date, the youngsters have revived Pillaiyar Kulam (near Patchaiyamman temple), Somavara Kulam, Saraswathi Theertham, Veediyappan Theertham, Mondikulam, Pillayar Kulam (Venkigal) and Nandhi Theertham.
Starting with a small group of 20 to 30, the group has steadily expanded to welcome new like-minded and passionate individuals.
The group operates by spending 3-4 hours every Sunday, which they have been doing from September 18, 2016.
“We have revived eight ancient tanks along the Girivalam path in the temple town. These tanks were filled with garbage,” J Neelagandan, a resident of Tiruvannamalai town told TOI.
The work of the youngsters has been lauded by temple priests and locals.
“Now, we are happy to see the Theertham clean again. But, the local body should ensure a drainage facility to stop locals from letting wastewater into the tank,” said an elderly resident, Ramu.
They are now striving to grant the Brahma Theertham in Adi Annamalai along Girivalam path a new lease of life.
“We have put over 200 hours of hard work to rejuvenate the water bodies in and around Grivialam path. We will continue our efforts,” M Poova Raghavan told the publication.