The first borewell contractor came, surveyed the remoteness of the place and left saying, ‘call me when you have a road ready’ – which will be in April. The windmill folks in Pondicherry wanted a borewell dug and ready before they’d visit the site, study the requirement and offer a quote. Even as I resigned myself to the delay that peanuts can cause, my enterprising local friend Babu Reddiar discovered another borewell firm.
Their foreman offered to clear a cross country path for a Rs.1,000, being 90 minutes’ hire charges for a backhoe. On Feb 6, a workable road was ready.
2 rigs arrived promptly at 11am. Mano and I had driven over to Peruveli by 10am. Sanakaralingam the water diviner had come over too; Babu felt that we had divined for a dug well but a borewell required a pinpoint accuracy. A good sized convoy made its way over reasonably repaired road.
The diviner’s rod picked a new spot about a foot away from the previous. Then we performed a small puja. A brick was daubed with vermilion and turmeric. Flowers, incense stick, camphor, coconut and fruits were offered. I prostrated facing the hill and prayed for good luck. A box of sweets was opened and shown but not distributed. That must wait until water was struck.
A monster air compressor roared to life and a coarse drill began to cut the earth. It is quite a violent act and must have hurt the earth, if as they say i has a soul. I watched telling myself it was a good cause. I had visited working, open cast mines in Australia and remembered how that hurt.
At 23 feet, loose dirt stopped and we hit hard rock. There was already some moisture in the soil. A 7.5″ bore plastic pipe was inserted into the hole. This is known as the casement pipe and its job is to keep the dirt from falling into the well hole.
A smaller 6.5″ bit was inserted and drilling proceeded in grayish, slaty rock. By 25′ we hit water. Sweets were distributed all around. Drilling continued as mud oozed from the well. Each bit is 15′ long. As one enters completely, another is threaded on. The process is pretty fast and steady. We drilled to 200′ and the job was done by 3.30pm. The 6.5″ hole through the rock will have porous walls from which water will seep from the neighbouring aquifers. Soon as the drilling bits were finally withdrawn, we could place our ears on the well head and hear water droplets falling into the well. This would go on until water rises to its natural level. It’s quite an intriguing and awesome experience to hear sounds from the deep.
The team of seven riggers washed up. Two old shepherds that sat all day watching, declared the well a success. Packed lunch had been served to all plus two dogs hanging around. I had skipped lunch, suffused by a strange excitement that some work got done at last. At 4.30 I had a small serving of rice and buttermilk served on a banana leaf on the floor of Babu Reddiar’s house.
There’s a source of water on the property for the first time in anyone’s memory.