If not another piece of developmental work occurs from today at pointReturn, it will still be on its way to regenerate itself for, as I write, a 6′ deep pond spread over half an acre has been dug and it stands filled to the brim by the rains that seemed to have impatiently waited for its completion.
I had spent the last year listening to local folk and observing the water run-off paths. After choosing the location, I consulted competent people at work in watershed management. All this preparatory work was detailed in an earlier article.
1,300 cubic metres [=46,000 cFt] of earth had to be excavated, carried away and usefully disposed off. The digging called for coordinated work between a back-hoe [called locally by the popular brand name, JCB] and several tractor drawn tippers trailers. They are both paid for by the hour; the former at Rs.600 and the latter, Rs.130. The number of tippers required depends on the distance to which the earth is carted away. Some days, I needed up to 4 and some days just 1. It saves a lot of money to plan ahead carefully.
As the digging would be done over several 14-hour days, I guessed I would be kinder on my body and the earth’s resources by camping out at the site, rough thought it would be, rather than commuting daily. So I ticked off items in another shopping list that read, camp cot, stove, pots, pans, provisions and a solar lantern.
JCBs are the ubiquitous work horses, to be seen everywhere now. They are in great demand and so, not turning up on the promised date and time is a common happening. I was racing against the approaching monsoons. I wanted the pond dug, its embankments dressed and reinforced by plants and creepers before the rains arrived.
I was twice stood up by the JCB. There was nothing to do but be patient. But being patient does not slow the monsoons and that was my anxiety. Finally, I got the crew together on Oct 13 and work began.