April 26, 2017
A bunch of youth is actively involved in saving the water bodies in the city. Kovai Kulangal Pathukaapu Amaippu, a volunteer-based youth movement launched in February has been in the forefront of renovating a number of degraded wetlands and water bodies that have fallen into disuse.
Unbridled encroachment, destruction of main and supplementary feeder channels and overgrowth of juliflora proposis (seemai karuvelams) and ipomoea carnea ( neiveli kattamankku) coupled with dumping of industrial and domestic waste had made several of these left unusable.
It all began as a small initiative of these youths with public support. “The movement has caught the imagination of the people and thanks to the 200-strong volunteer force, famed tanks in the city such as Periyakulam in Perur (300 acres), Selva Chinthamani Kulam in Selvapuram (34 acres) and Vellalore Kulam ( 99 acres) are now cleared of garbage and overgrown weeds and shrubs,” said movement organiser R Manikantan.
The neglected tanks badly needed attention and the movement stepped in for the renovation work. “With just around a month for the southwest monsoon to set in, we thought it was right time to renovate the tanks and its feeder channels,” he added.
“At our first meeting which 30 odd volunteers, on the tank bund of Periyakulam, we became aware of the urgency. These water bodies are teetering on the brink of disaster. The ground water table has touched a new low in the city, as the ponds and irrigation tanks have been in a neglected condition. We took a pledge then and there to save the water bodies through a people’s movement.” Manikantan said.
A Facebook group was created and it helped in getting the much -needed momentum. There were innumerable calls from volunteers who were ready to contribute for the cause of saving the wetlands and the degrading environment. All Sundays from 8 am to 10 am are set aside for volunteer work and the strength has now grown to more than 200. Four Sundays were devoted for Periyakulam , said volunteer Sujatha.
The services of up to 10 earth movers were needed and these were given by owners free of cost. It has taken 100 mandays so far. Cleaning up Selva Chinthamai tank (34 acres) in Selvapuram, was second mile stone during which time Coimbatore City Corporation Commissioner K. Vijayakarthikeyan visited the spot to support the volunteers. .
“We took up the 99-acre Vellalore tank for renovation as it is the lifeline of farmers,” said one of the volunteers. The tank had not been used for storing water for the last 15 years with its being clogged and its main feeder encroached upon. A check dam in Rajavaikkal was clogged with plastic waste.
The organisation took up the matter with District Collector TN Hariharan who promised to relocate the 1500 hutments and dwellings pitched on encroached land. The evicted encroachers would be housed in the 12,000 Tamil Nadu Pollution control Board tenements. Hutments on encroached water bodies and railway lands would be given priority for housing, he assured the volunteers.
Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation Commissioner K. Vijayakarthikeyan coordinated with the TNPC officials and promised to relocate the encroachers from the Rajavaikkal lands. At a meeting he convened, it was decided to complete the work within a month.
Donors from here and abroad have been a source of strength to for the organization. “While Cameron Manufactures India Pvt. Ltd. sponsored the earth movers by donating Rs.5 lakh to remove the weed-strewn tanks, Namdhu Kovai and Namdhu Pasumai also contributed to the cause. The owners of Hotel Anandas have been supplying refreshments to the volunteers, they said.