Manikandan of Kovai Kulangal Padhukaapu Amaippu has won the Best Water Warrior award for his efforts to revive the city’s canals, rivers and lakes
R Manikandan was watching TV at his home in Sundarapuram when the news flashed on the screen: he had won the Best Water Warrior Award-South Zone for the year 2019.
It was conferred by the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. “I was informed about it in January, but was asked not to share it with anyone till the official announcement was made. Even my family came to know about it through the news broadcast,” says the 38-year-old. He is the founder of the NGO Kovai Kulangal Padhukaapu Amaippu that works to protect water-bodies in the district.Manikandan has been working towards the revival of ponds and lakes for three years now. “Over these years, our team has cleaned six lakes, two canals and four check-dams. I have also created a Miyawaki forest with 7,500 native varieties of trees on the bunds of Vellalore tank,” he says.
His NGO has around 200 active members including professionals and students who volunteer on weekends. “During lockdown, we cleaned Vellachi kuttai near Kuppanur; Makali Amman Kovil kuttai near Chennanur and Kadaikaran kuttai at Devarayapuram. All the three ponds are in catchment areas of river Noyyal.” The process involved clearing overgrown bushes, deepening the ponds and strengthening the bunds. “This is important as it recharges groundwater, which helps vegetation in the area, which will in turn facilitate rainfall. It is all interdependent,” he says.
While Manikandan is happy about the recognition, he understands that it comes with a huge responsibility. “I will continue this work till I know all the water-bodies in the city are clear,” he says. So far, the team has collected information on 900 ponds in Coimbatore from the District Rural Development Agencies. “We plan to check each one and revive those that are neglected. We are also on a mission to find information on water-bodies in the city, he says. “Once done, the data will be uploaded on our website and can be accessed by anyone.”
Manikandan says that the most common issue that plagues water-bodies is the dumping of garbage. “Take the example of Coimbatore, that has the Noyyal running through it. It is choked with sewage and solid waste and therefore our drinking water comes from the Bhavani,” he says. “This should change. We should learn to take care of local natural resources.”
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