A Dead River Comes Alive Thanks To The Women Of Vellore!

Vellore women

This year, several districts of India are facing water crisis. Along with several other states, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are on the list of those states that are confronting acute shortage of water. The situation has reached crisis levels in Vellore as the water level is receding by huge volumes.

Situation worsens in Vellore

According to the farmers’ organisation named Tamizhnadu Vivasayiga, “In the past four years, nearly 50% of Vellore’s agricultural labour has left behind farmlands for the city”. The move comes after the people in the Vellore district of Tamil Nadu are unable to sustain their living smoothly.

In March, Vellore was declared one of the 24 drought-hit districts in the state by the government.

Women taking the lead

However, there are a good number of people who have preferred to stay back in their city and are trying to revive their city and life back. Interestingly, among those who stayed back, women made the maximum numbers. These women are registered as employees under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Act scheme (MNREGA). For nearly 19 years till date, the Naganadhi River is devoid of water. Thus, these women are working very hard to try their fate in bringing back the long-lost river to life.

Furthermore, these women belong to Salamanatham village. And are also being assisted by the members of a foundation named ‘The Art of Living’ (AOL).

As the city is running out of life, these women are pouring life to its wells drop by drop. Till date, to our astonishment, in the past four years, they have built 36 recharge wells and 25 boulder checks. They are making use of pebbles, which would help them to save enough water by reducing the rainwater flow.

“With no rain, we had to leave our land barren. But being a part of this project, I earned ₹224 a day for almost 25 days, and brought water into my land,” said Nathiya, who is one among those women contributing for the noble cause.

Read also: Women Battle Water Crisis In Drought-Hit TN Village

“A river flows above the surface only after the groundwater has been replenished and the lakes are full. Therefore, reviving a river isn’t just about its flow, but allowing enough water to seep into the ground. In other words, letting the rainwater infiltrate the soil by slowing it down,” explained Chandrasekaran Kuppan who is the director of the Naganadhi Rejuvenation Project. The project was launched in the year 2014.

The action plan to resuscitate the river was carved out by the members of the ‘Art of Living’ foundation.

They were assigned with the task of designing an implementation strategy considering the geology and geography of the region. The move came after their successful revival of the two rivers in the state of Karnataka, namely, Vedavathi and Kumudavathi respectively.

Read also: Why Is The Water Crisis Not Part Of The Election Agenda In India?

Women played an important role in the restoration of the river and in the process augmented their own income. They worked at all stages of the project — right from digging wells, placing the cement rings, putting the stones to finally closing the well with a cement lid, reported The Hindu.

The credit of this ongoing success goes to the volunteers of ‘Art of Living’ foundation along with those women who didn’t bow down before their destiny. They fought with the crisis and showed an exemplary act of handling tough situations.

Udisha Srivastav is an intern with Shethepeople.TV