#FightDrought by Restoring Lakes & Ponds In Drought hit Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu witnessed 606 farmer suicides last year. Since October 2016, it has seen two farmers committing suicides daily.

It is facing the worst drought India has seen in the last 140 years.  The North-East monsoon, which serves as the key source of water for the region, failed drastically, deficit by 62% last year. This combined with overexploitation of ground water, lower reservoir levels, the Cauvery water dispute and crop stress conditions, has left the state parched and is claiming the lives of two farmers every day between October 2016 and now.

NAGAPATTINAM – The Worst Affected District
The Nagapattinam district has been the worst hit due to this acute water shortage and has seen the maximum number of farmer suicides. There are 135,000 paddy farmers among the 175,000 farmers in the district which falls in the Cauvery delta. Due to the acute water shortage, less than 20% of the paddy sown has crossed the flowering stage. The problem further intensifies since paddy is the main crop of the region, given nature of the soil. Nagapattinam enjoyed salubrious environment and was known for its lakes and gardens.  As per the revenue records the city had more than 300 lakes in the past, unfortunately due to rapid & unregulated urban growth resulted not only in the illegal encroachment/ reclamation of lake areas but also contributed in the drastic reduction in their number. Conserving and retaining their fresh water status is a key solution to the current water crisis.

The Better India is coming together with The Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI), to #FightDrought, a LAKE & POND RESTORATION campaign that will focus on cleaning, desilting, deepening and restoring two ponds in the region.

The two ponds are going to be the Kiramaththu Medu-Thamarai pond in Keelvelur Taluka(a 2.5 acre pond) and the Thiruvaimur-Thamarai pond in Thirukuvalai Taluka, Nagapattinam District(size: 5 acres).

Proposed Activity
Baseline Study of the Lake and its Catchment.
Scientific study of the catchment which includes detailed hydrological, geomorphologic and ecological assessment. To prepare the project report. This time will also be used to avail necessary government permissions.
10 days
STAGE 1: Lake/Pond Clean Up
Removal of Physical Garbage and Weed Removal around the lake/pond. With the help of local residents and other volunteers to ensure community participation.
The clean ups are critical, in order to inform the public prior to restoration so as to keep the community involved
5 days
STAGE 2: Lake/Pond Desilting
Removing excess silt across the entire expanse of the lake/pond during the dry season. The depth at different portions of the lake is to be decided based on the base line.
15-18 days
STAGE 3: Bund Strengthening & Native Species Plantation
Using the excavated silt the bund around the
entire expanse of the lake/pond will be packed for 3ft height. To hold the packed bund native Indian species will be planted on the bunds of the lake. This will be followed by a protective fence creation to prevent future encroachment.
15-18 days (simultaneous to the desilting)

Expected outcome:
  • Water recharge facility to the distance of 850m to 1km directly, indirect impact to the range of 3 to 3.6kms
  • 1,800 to 2,000 families to benefit per pond, over long term with recharged groundwater in the region; with estimates of 4-5 heads per family, the project will benefit around 20000 inhabitants of the area
  • Psychological impact to the larger district leading to several more water conservation efforts in a minimum of 90 to 95 surrounding villages.
  • Restored water body to ensure improved water table (Groundwater stabilization)
  • Restored water body to ensure temperature regulation
  • Restored water body will help in preventing waterborne diseases
  • Restoration to have an overall ecological, economical and climate impact in the villages chosen.

Total cost for cleaning and restoring of two ponds/lakes of an average area of 3 acres each: Rs. 10L
Cost Includes:
  • Machine rental: Earth moving equipment such as a Hitachi 220 for desilting and deepening of the water body. 
  • Bund strengthening efforts with excavated silt. Creation of inlet and outlet regulation.
  • Fuel charges for the machinery, labour charges for operation of machinery.
  • Staff stipend for fieldwork for EFI
  • Following outreach and awareness programs

Ask for an update
4th July 2017
The pond restoration activity is in full swing. We have already restored the Thiruvaimur-Thamarai pond, and moved to the second pond.
The restoration activity has had far reaching impacts, and has resonated very well with the villagers. Our correspondent from The Better India, travelled around the district speaking to the locals to understand the impact. You can read an account of the village and its transformation through the period of drought, here.

Given the far reaching impact, and the following request from the village communities, we are adding a third pond, Vergudi Kuttai, in Vergudi village to our restoration activity, and to this effect we are raising the fundraiser target from 10L to 13L.

We thank each and every donor for their generosity in helping us reach out to one of the worst affected districts in Tamil Nadu, to help provide them with a very basic necessity for life - drinking water!

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Anonymous donated Rs.500
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