PALAKKAD:The people of Vadakarapathy in Palakkad district, a rain shadow and drought-prone area, are warming up to the futility of digging borewells. Now, the people have decided to close ranks and dig open ponds with help from the Nabard. In an area where drinking water is supplied in tanker lorries, the farmers have cultivated 350 hectares of vegetables by irrigating the fields from these open ponds and provided seeds to government agencies.
“This year, we have provided financial assistance, routed through the Nabard, to deepen and desilt 192 ponds as part of three watershed schemes of Anapur, Valiakalliampara, and Nedungottuchalla.
The farmer spends around Rs 40,000 for each pond while financial assistance to the tune of Rs 10,000 is given as subsidy. The farmers have cultivated vegetables in 350 hectares this year vis a vis 280 hectares last year. A total of 104 farmers supplied seeds to the Kerala State Seed Development Authority apart from supplying seeds to the VFPCK procurement centre,” said Vadakarapathy Krishi Bhavan agriculture officer A O Thomas, the convener of the watershed schemes implemented under the Western Ghat Development Scheme. “ We suggested that the open pond, which was used to fill water from the borewells, be deepened and desilted. The rain water will fill this pond and the water could be stored. Financial assistance from Nabard could be used to build bunds and dig rainwater harvesting pits.
Though Appadurai, who had lost money in borewells, initially resisted, he finally agreed to desilt the pond, which has enough water now,” said Pitchamuthu Savariar, supervisor of the Kulamadachalla and Kuppandivara watershed schemes.
Forty-five individuals followed suit and availed of assistance from Nabard under the Kulamadachalla watershed scheme and have stored water. Now, the open ponds are used both for drinking and irrigation. “We have also decided to do away with the practise of digging borewells,” said Pitchamuthu.
“ While digging a borewell costs Rs 70,000 and above, the digging of an open pond costs less than Rs 50,000. A visit to Vadakarapathy will show how every drop of water is conserved through rainwater harvesting to replenish open ponds,” he added.R Satish, scientist at the Integrated Rural Technology Centre (IRTC), Mundur, said, “The whole Chittur block and parts of Kollengode are part of the Palakkad Gap in the Western Ghats