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It’s been an uphill battle for the seaside town of Pondicherry in the Union Territory of Puducherry over the past few months as district officials made every effort to rejuvenate, renovate and restore water bodies in the district, many of which were almost lost or encroached upon.
The initiative is a part of Puducherry’s Neerum Oorum (Water and Village) Scheme to adopt water bodies, renovate them and protect them.
According to District Collector, Dr. T. Arun, many of the water bodies and ponds were almost lost, overrun as they were with foliage, waste or encroachments. Some of them were almost flat and dry. “Given the high levels of groundwater exploitation, water shortage is common here during many months. So we decided to set things right.” he said.
Taking inventory: The number of water bodies in the district was available in the Revenue Records of the district. To help them make an inventory, a team was sent to survey the water bodies, document the same and provide a unique number to every pond based on its location – village, panchayat and sub-division. Although a very difficult task, this was done to set the ball rolling.
Corporate Social Responsibility, Convergence: Through convergence with MGNREGA Scheme, PWD, local bodies and with CSR support of many companies, banks and NGOs including Lions and Rotary Clubs, desilting of 120 ponds has been done to date. Further, work for another 80 ponds is in progress, including 30 temple ponds.
De-silting of canals: De-silting of canals, was undertaken with support from local leaders and officials from the district administration, as a part of Neerum Oorum. The project received vital support from the offices of the Governor and Chief Minister.
Neerum Oorum: The tagline for the water bodies’ rejuvenation programme was ‘Neerum Oorum. Advertisements were given in local newspapers, appealing for support from the public, corporate sector and institutions. More than a dozen companies provided free services. With their support 200 KMS of canals were cleared.
Geo-tagging of water bodies: Instructions have been given to digitize all water bodies by geo-tagging them, in collaboration with Nagpur based NEERI (National Environment Engineering Research Institute). This will prevent encroachments and misuse of the same. An App will be launched soon to better monitor and maintain the water bodies.
Impact: Many of the ponds that were rejuvenated over the past few months now have water, increasing the water storage capacity of the district. This will also help increase the groundwater table. Care will also be taken to ensure that the ponds will be retained as water bodies. Plans are in the pipeline to improve the appearance and approach to the water bodies by building pavements around them and if space permits make a park near them that could have a picnic area or open air gym.
As per official data, Puducherry has as many as with 84 irrigation tanks and 607 ponds which are the lifeline of Puducherry’s ground water recharging systems, source for drinking water and also the backbone for agriculture.
[ The Blog was first published on https://jalshakti.wordpress.com/ ]