The hunt for an earth canvas

Some of the basic search criteria for a suitable piece of land to locate pointReturn are easy to understand. For example, that it must be within 100 kM of Chennai city. Or that it must be affordably priced.
Other criteria need some explanation.
There was no point in buying land that was already productive. It is a folly to convert food growing fields for other purposes. Also, a land that has been abandoned presents not only a fresh canvas, but also a challenge. So I decided to look for wasteland.

Next, criteria was that water should not be in easy access or in abundance. It should be available yes, but the effort to lift it should force sensitive use of it. One of my peeves about the current stylish trend of organic farming is that, while it eschews use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, water use is rarely accounted for. [Such ‘organic produce’ often travels to distant markets burning diesel and taking away water from local geography.]
For the same reason as above, free electricity for water pumping has become another evil. It is common for big farmers with large wells to switch their pumps on and run it for hours, regardless of the requirement. A “big well with free power” is a popular trading asset. Land brokers quote that as a clinching point. The land for pointReturn must not come with this temptation. If unavoidable, use of free power must be foresworn – at worst, within a short transition time.

In Tamil Nadu, people seldom live at foot-hills unless they are in entirely mountainous regions, where whole villages might be on hill-slopes. In the plains however, foot-hills are avoided for various reasons. One is the fear of gremlins and spirits believed to roam there. For another folks in the plains have not learnt how farm the slopes. Maybe there was no reason to learn those skills as flat fields are available in plenty.
Leveling slopes is considered essential and naturally very expensive. Water runs off with top soil, making the slopes into wastelands that nobody wants. Most of the sloping grounds in water scarce areas of the south, if not the whole of India, are virtual wastelands, fit only for grazing by goats, which accelerates degradation.
I specified to the scouting team of young men, that when they picked a prospective property to show me, it must be sloping ground by a hill or hillock. At any rate, I was not going to consider flat boring ground as it holds no poetic interest.
The intent was to break out and demonstrate that foot hills can be productive too.

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