Karnataka farmer becomes lifeline for wildlife by pumping water to dry stream

Sixty-two-year-old Govind Gundappa Gundkal, a farmer from a village in Dharwad, is on a mission to quench the thirst of animals. His act of supplying water from his borewell to a bone-dry stream has earned the admiration of many
(Above) Farmer Govind Gundappa Gundkal from Masalikatti village in Kalaghatagi taluk pumps water into the stream for animals
(Above) Farmer Govind Gundappa Gundkal from Masalikatti village in Kalaghatagi taluk pumps water into the stream for animals Express

dharwad : Water is the essence of life. It sustains every life. With the mercury hitting 40 degrees Celsius in most parts of Karnataka, a majority of the once-abundant water sources are mere reflections of their former selves. Serpentine queues outside public taps and private tankers and people drilling deep into Mother Earth to find water have become a common sight.

We humans, however, often defeat such adversities and emerge victorious. But not all living beings are as fortunate.

The silent victims of these unprecedented summer months are the birds and animals, who find it difficult to find even a drop of water. But not all hope is lost, as there are God-sent saviours, who, by different means, quench the thirst of such creatures.

One such angel is 62-year-old Govind Gundappa Gundkal, a farmer from Masalikatti village in Kalghatgi taluk of Dharwad district. Govind has been pumping water from his borewell into the dry stream in his village to help animals, birds and cattle. He has been doing this for the last three years and has never yearned for any publicity or fame.

Speaking to The New Sunday Express, Govind recalled the incident that made him take up this initiative. “I used to take my cattle to the stream adjacent to my farm. But three years ago, the stream went dry. I used water from my borewell to quench the thirst of my cattle in my farm. However, I noticed other animals coming to the stream and returning without any water,” he says, adding that this hit him hard and he decided to pump water from his borewell into the stream.

He says the stream comes alive only during the monsoon and is mostly dry from February and summer months. “Every year, I supply water from my borewell to the stream for almost four months. I have connected 10 pipes from my borewell to the stream. I supply water for almost four hours every day,” says Govind, a father of two. As Govind owns only a small piece of land, water from his borewell is sufficient for his crops.

Govind’s son Maruti recalled an incident that had a great impact on his father. “He (Govind) once saw a deer returning without drinking water as the stream had gone dry. That’s when he decided to supply water from our borewell to the stream. He has been doing this for the last three years. We own 1.5 acres of land and the water from our borewell is enough to irrigate this land. We also irrigate four acres of land taken on lease,” says Maruti.

Govind’s act of kindness has earned him several admirers.

A resident of the village from the Gouli tribe, who rear cattle, says Govind’s gesture has also helped to keep a check on human-animal conflict. “Not just cattle, but even animals in the wild are benefiting from Govind supplying water to the stream. The stream borders a forest. Wild animals don’t venture into our village in search of water, as the water supplied by Govind quenches their thirst. We hear of human-animal conflicts from across the state. But the story is different in our village, thanks to Govind,” he says.

Another resident says shepherds, in large numbers, camp near the stream. “The location is ideal for grazing, and our animals get water from the stream. More people should come up with such ideas to help animals and birds,” added another Gouli community member.

Sugarcane Growers’ Association district secretary Parusuram Yattinguda said they felicitated Govind after learning about his good deed. “We have visited the stream and the farmer’s land. As many as 700 cattle heads in the village are dependent on the stream in summer months,” he added.

Govind says he is determined to continue his noble cause, as he feels nature is for everyone, and not just humans.

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