‘My neighbours who criticised us earlier came to our well to fetch water’
A farmer has recharged a well that was in disuse for long at his house in Kothamangalam by setting up a comprehensive rainwater harvesting system.
Thirty-six-year-old M. Veeramani and his family live amid a four-acre coconut grove in Kothamangalam, 20 km from Pudukkottai on Alangudi Road. Mr. Veeramani was struggling to irrigate his trees for years before he decided to construct a rainwater harvesting system to conserve water in July 2018.
“My neighbours criticised me for spending a lot of money on something which would yield nothing,” he says. “There were days when he doubted himself but he knew the entire grove will wither if he did not do anything,” says Vanitha Veeramani, his wife.
What should have taken only a month took three as the walls of the well collapsed during construction. “We did not anticipate large cracks. It may have been because of the heavy concrete cover which was laid over the well or because the well itself was old,” says Mr. Veeramani. The cover was removed after which a frame was constructed lengthwise and around the circumference of the well using metal rods after which it was covered in cement before the top was replaced.
The system has been constructed in such a way that rainwater falling on the terracotta roof of Mr. Veeramani’s house is collected in conduits on both sides made from halved PVC pipes. The conduits lead to pipes which fall into the well with a capacity of 18,000 litres through a three-layer filter. The unit which cost Mr. Veeramani ₹1.5 lakh was put to the test during cyclone Gaja in November 2018, which came soon after its completion.
“Several of my coconut trees, mango trees and a jackfruit tree collapsed but the well filled up to the brim. After the cyclone, there was no electricity for weeks and no water supply for even a longer period. My neighbours who criticised us earlier came to our well to fetch water,” says Mr.Veeramani. He made use of the fallen coconut trees too by making chairs for his house and a shelter for his two sons to play.
The borewells around Mr. Veeramani’s residence dried up and the farmers cannot afford to dig deeper. Municipality water comes once in two or three days but it is unreliable, they say. “The cost of drilling borewells is as high as ₹12 lakh as the bore has to be sunk as deep as 1000 feet to touch the water. We farmers do not have that kind of money,” he says urging more people to follow his model as an alternative.
“I have about 15,000 litres of water in the well before the monsoon, which can sustain my family and my grove for at least three months. When it rains, it will only increase. If people emulate this model, they can face any sort of water shortage,” he says.
(source : The Hindu)