December 6, 2016
“Departed leader J Jayalalithaa had immense environmental awareness and she should be credited for making water harvesting structures mandatory in homes across Tamil Nadu. Also, tree planting programmers, which were organised on her birthday every year, helped the cause of social forestry and afforestation, which in turn helped create environmental awareness among the common man. Lakhs of sapling were planted all over Tamil Nadu by government servants and party cadres,” said Vanitha Mohan, founder of Siruthuli, a water and environment conservation NGO.
Vanitha, who is fondly known as the “face of Coimbatore” for her pioneering work in the field of water body conservation and renovation, and water harvesting technology in the city, had fond memories of her two meetings with the departed leader. “I met chief minister Jayalalithaa at the Secretariat for the first time in 2005 and gave a presentation of Siruthuli’s field work in water body conservation.
Jayalalithaa came across as someone who was highly intelligent and could understand in depth the pressing environmental issues of our state. While applauding our conservation initiatives, the leader also promised to help us in our green efforts, which she went on to do,” said Vanitha.
The conservationist remembers meeting the chief minister a second time a couple of years back and telling her “that her government’s water harvesting initiatives had been inspirational and had prompted Siruthuli to take up water harvesting and technology in full-fledged manner. “And the good news is that Siruthuli has constructed around 500 water harvesting structures in the city, which I attribute to the model the departed leader had set,” said Vanitha.
“When a leader of Jayalalithaa’s stature took up the initiative of water harvesting structures in every household, it had a huge impact on the environment. It immensely helped to raise the water table, which was fast depleting in most parts of the state due to poor monsoon and poor water management,” she pointed out.