Malarvizhli, a social worker in Tamil Nadu who helped residents of Chinnapalli Kuppam village end decades of water woes by reviving a 2-acre pond
Even though Malarvizhli Akka (elder sister) died a sudden death of organ failure in 2018, the villagers of Chinnapalli Kuppam and its surrounding hamlets will never forget her and her work. She was the reason the drought of several decades ended as she restored the pond in their village.
“Our village was suffering from water scarcity, and farming was difficult. Farmers lived in distress and could hardly cultivate one crop a year. The locals were migrating to cities for labour work, took up tannery, or pursued other alternate jobs for a living. But we are forever grateful to Akka that our village is drought-free after 20 years and is charting a path of prosperity,” says Vijay Kumar, a village resident.
Malarvizhli, a resident of Chennai, devoted her life to various environmental and social causes, working closely with NGOs and social groups. It was in 2016 when Malarvizhli started a Whatsapp group made up of experts and environment lovers who wanted to contribute to conserving the environment, that she came to know about Chinnapallikuppam village. The village had water shortage for years.
She went to the village, and when she was standing in the mountains, she noticed a pit at the base of the mountains. She asked the villagers about it and came to know that it is a percolation pond that was made by the government in 1996. Malarvizhli wanted to restore the pond. But the villagers did not have any hope that the dry pond can be restored. But Malarvizhli, who recognised the potential of the pond, encouraged the villagers.
A team from the NGO visited the village to inspect the pond. They agreed to revive it through multiple interventions. The villagers removed the invasive plant species and deepened it through an excavator to increase its water storing capacity. A bund wall was also constructed up to 7 feet to allow maximum water to be stored in the pond. The locals received employment for participating in the project.
Additionally, the villagers dug a channel to divert water from the pond across the farms. The water overflowing from the percolation pond during monsoons would make its way to the channels, ensuring that it does not go without being utilised. The villagers also constructed soak pits along the water channel to ensure the soil maintained certain moisture levels.
Villagers also created barrages in the catchment area and cleaned the water run-off area on the hill to assist percolation in the ground. They managed and maintained the interventions until the structures stabilised. Malarvizhli coordinated with the government agencies and the forest department to seek necessary approvals.
In 2020, the village received significant rains, which helped fill the pond. Today, the pond remains filled with water throughout the year, with a water storage capacity of 6 crore litres. The pond slowly releases the water into the ground, which helps increase and maintain groundwater levels. All pen wells in the village have seen increased water levels.
The villagers are forever grateful to their Malarvizhli Akka for the prosperity in their village now. They thank their Akka every time it rains.
Credits: The Better India
Read the full story here,