BENGALURU/KOLAR: It took an NGO and a 35-strong workforce, a majority of whom were women, to transform the parched Pichaguntlahalli in Kolar district. By clearing silt from Hosakere and Gottakere lakes in the village, they have ensured sufficient water for farmers to grow two crops of paddy this year and their work has also improved the groundwater table.
The village, 16 km from Kolar, falls under the Omittur Gram Panchayat. When many labour-intensive jobs dried up during COVID, S Asha, founder-secretary of NGO 'Arohaana Grameena Abhivrudhi Samasthe', proposed to the residents to take up manual clearing of feeder canals from two lakes and also offered them wages. The proposal, which would also give them water, was taken up seriously by the villagers.
Asha told The New Indian Express, "Within three months, four canals were desilted. Silt running for 1,200 metres in Gottakere and 2,600 metres in Hosakere was removed. With good rains in Kolar last year, the work done by the women has directly or indirectly improved the lives of all the 686 residents in the village."
She said, "We trained 35 individuals, of whom 31 were women, in desilting. They understood the rationale behind desilting the lake. Using earthmovers, 4,950 cubic metres of soil was removed from the feeder canals. We ensured that the soil was not wasted and was used in the fields."
With the groundwater table increasing and thereby improving the yield in the borewells, it also helped farmers sowing tomatoes, green chillies and other vegetables, Asha said. The Rotary Lakeside, Kolar and Bengaluru branches, and IIIT Bengaluru supported them.
Field Coordinator Narayana Swami said, "With the second yield of paddy in their fields, thanks to water from the lake, the families in and around the lake will become self-sufficient."