State of the rains, 2007

There is a slowly emerging awareness now, about water issues and rainwater harvesting. One sees signs of government busy with bunding, trenching and planting to stem run-off. Drinking water scarcity got so acute a decade ago that the government of Tamil Nadu was led to a commendable display of political will. Using persuasion and threats the whole population was mobilised to rig up for rain water harvesting. Today, in Tamil Nadu not having a RWH success to brag about can make you as outcast as a smoker.

Here’s an easy way to do your bit for RWH wherever you may be and earn some brag-points:a programme run by DHAN in Madurai is reviving village ponds for drinking water. It encourages the kind of private initiative -in place of lament- that is needed today. Using your contributions DHAN will create a Oorani that will forever cater to the needs of a water starved village. The programme is receiving good support and deserves to be better known. So things may be looking up somewhat.

All the foregoing has turned out to be a reverie as I set out to report on the monsoon this year. It has been a good monsoon- at least in the local geography of pointReturn. The new pond there has filled 1.5 times. In just 24 hours spanning Dec 18 and 19, it rained 105mm. The private road to the site was unmotorable for three days. Kutty who lives in the village kept giving weather and site reports to Raju and me. The thatched shed and the windmill had endured the stormy conditions well. The existence this year, of the entry pond and the main pond have already shown how run off can be mitigated over the next few years. The rains have informed me where trenches must come up and where vetiver must be planted.

In the city of Chennai, it poured down for 36 hours non-stop, disrupting street life. The city’s reservoirs in Red Hills, Poondy, Chembarampakkam and Sholavaram filled to the brim and engineers were obliged to dump the excess into the sea via the Adyar river. Similarly the Madurantakam tank too filled to the brim; its excess was discharged into the Kallar river. What if we had created even more storage for the wealth from the sky? One can’t be too greedy about water.

Three days after the rains subsided I went to pointReturn. Numerous tiny springs were visible around the main pond. The pond’s overflow was headed to the Endathur tank a kilometer away. Kutty said for two days thousands of little fish frolicked in several streams. They were swimming upstream from the tank without a care they might leap out of water. “They are from the Endathur tank. I knew the precise moment the rains would arrive and the tank will begin to fill: it is when the cranes leave the mud flats and park themselves on higher ground. I don’t know what makes these fish swim out and up and against the swift flowing streams, but they do. May be the cool fresh waters are such a change from the stagnant, stale waters of the tank. We were here all day yesterday, scooping them up and throwing them back into our pond.”

2 thoughts on “State of the rains, 2007

  1. namskar!
    i enjoyed the story of winter mansoon. for a person from north india, mansoon means heavy rain in july august, but i remember studying about winter mansoon in geography lessons during my school days, but only today i realized it is so real and important.
    i was expecting a “full upto brim” picture of the pointReturn pond of and an “elephant rock” bathing in it.

  2. So pleased the rains have favoured pointReturn and that you are managing to conserve what is freely provided. What a shame the main cities still allow rainwater to flow into the oceans. I was brought up with the saying ‘Waste not, want not’. How true that saying is today with regards to clean water!
    The photos were very enjoyable. Jamin Endathur tank looked so peaceful and appealing. The ewe and lambs really seemed to know the meaning of freedom – even if only temporary. Thank you.

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