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279 Women in Palakad Are Digging Their Way out of Drought With Over 190 Wells

The initiative, undertaken by the Pookkottukavu grama panchayat, is funded under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

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At a time when several regions in the country are grappling with the effects of drought, one Panchayat in Palakad, Kerala, is feeling better about its prospects of accessing clean water.

That is because of 279 women who worked tirelessly for the cause and dug up 190 wells.

Image for representation. Photo source: Wikimedia

Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the women belonging to Pookkottukavu grama panchayat were enlisted to start digging wells. Since October 2016, 190 wells have been dug up and there’s still more to be built in the months to come.

The idea for hiring women from the region to dig up wells, was first conceived by the president of the panchayat, K Jayadevan. He spoke to The Hindu noting, “Except for half a dozen wells in rocky terrains, all the wells now provide water in the panchayat where tanker lorries used to meet drinking water needs every alternate day.”

So successful has the endeavour been that soon more 20 women will be joining the current roster. Thus the panchayat will also boast the achievement of having the largest number of female well-diggers in the entire country.


The panchayat is looking to get the women’s help in building 310 wells over the span of three years. Presently, the diggers receive a payment of ₹240 per day for their services. The expenses for labour and the construction are funded entirely under the MGNREGS.

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Thus, apart from providing employment and ensuring the panchayat doesn’t suffer from any perilous conditions arising from the ongoing drought, residents of the village also get free access to these wells.

Other panchayats have been inspired by the work done by the incredible women of Pookkottukavu and are planning to enlist the labour of women to dig up wells in their areas as well.

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