BENGALURU: Kaamegowda, the 82-year-old shepherd from Daasanadoddi village in Malavalli taluk of Mandya district, got glad tidings on Wednesday when he was informed that his four-decade-long effort to create 14 ponds in his village, had been recognised by the state government. On Thursday, Kaamegowda will be among 63 recipients of this year’s Rajyotsava award, to be given by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru.
Former Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva, National Public School founder K P Gopalkrishna and Sandalwood actor Jai Jagadish are among the other awardees.On July 15 this year, The New Indian Express had first reported on Kaamegowda’s inspiring tale in a story titled ‘Shepherd from Karnataka builds 14 ponds on barren hill, turns his village green’.
Kaamegowda, who has not had any formal education, dedicated 40 years of his life to digging, creating and maintaining 14 ponds on a hillock in his village. Thanks to his efforts, the ponds remain full of water, even during the scorching Mandya summers.
“Let there be more lakes,” he said, upbeat at having been recognised by the government.
“It is a service to mother nature and I must not take credit. We humans can afford to buy water but animals and birds cannot,” he told TNIE on Wednesday. True to form, Kaamegowda said that the `1 lakh purse that the Rajyotsava award carries would also be spent on the upkeep of the ponds.
When TNIE first visited his house, Kaamegowda, who sleeps in a cattle shed under a mosquito mat, said that his family had given up on trying to convince him to stop spending on the ponds. His stubborn dedication to seeing the water bodies develop meant that he would spend all cash awards and other money that he received into the effort instead of spending it on mending his house, in severe disrepair. True to form, Kaamegowda on Wednesday said that the `1 lakh purse that the Rajyotsava award carries would also be spent on the upkeep of the ponds.
In a modest tone, he added that repairing his house was last on his list of priorities for the moment. “These gestures are our contribution to nature which has given us so much. Till I am alive, I can only think of the ponds,” he said.