July 1, 2019
The adage of little drops of water making a mighty ocean comes true in the case of Coimbatore’s NGO Siruthuli (a little drop) as its name suggests. A dream project of a bunch of corporates in the town, it has gone a long way in recharging the ground water levels across Coimbatore.
Here the anchor role of Vanitha Mohan, also known to the bizworld as the Executive Chairperson of Pricol, comes in for much praise and her chat with The Covai Post is acknowledgement for that.
If today when the whole of Tamil Nadu remains parched and Coimbatore is an exception with a high level of ground water table, those in the city owe much to Vanitha Mohan, Siruthuli and the bunch of dedicated volunteers who have part of the movement out to save the waterbodies of this town.
“Yes, it certainly made a big change,” says Vanitha. It was out of fear of not having water that the NGO was founded in 2003. Coimbatore was in the red zone as per UNDP estimates. Something needed to be done badly. The unchecked borewells dug across the city was not yielding water all because the ground water levels had depleted to alarming levels.
There was a time when the Noyal river, the lifeline of Coimbatore, ran perennially, recounts Vanitha. But the river had started going dry. The waterbodies, such as the lakes and canals, had already been turned into waste dumpyards.
These water bodies had been created as part of flood control by the Chola kings because the Noyal was known as a jungle stream then and it would take a wild course during monsoon. But by the start of this century the situation in the concrete jungle of Coimbatore had turned so bad with little water in the jungle stream. There was a desperate situation where something had to be done immediately. Thus was born Siruthuli in 2003.
Desilting of the waterbodies, the lakes and ponds fed by Noyal began and not surprisingly, in three days, all these tanks turned full. The borewells started pumping water as groundwater got recharged.
This was an indication of what needed to be done. From there, it was no looking back. Waste from the waterbodies began to be removed. The choked channels to the ponds were cleaned.
The Noyal is one river that is fed by 22 streams from the Western Ghats and 12 from the northern side. The flow of water through the river was made smooth. The Noyal Restoration Centre was formed and this now is an epicentre of big research. As many as 750 rainwater harvesting structures were set up. Filtered water goes deep down recharging groundwater.
This explains why Coimbatore has earned a place of high groundwater level when other parts of the State have gone parched. There is now sufficient water for irrigation and agricultural production has been moving north.
On how she finds time from a busy schedule as a leading entrepreneur to take up such a daunting social responsibility, Vanitha response is quick and firm: “Passion drives me.” Her profession is part of her commitment to family, stakeholders and workers. The other side is devoted to nature and this devotion has been paying to the people of Coimbatore.