Temple tank revived
After successfully implementing rainwater harvesting in their houses, about 1000 residents of Pammal, Chennai, have now moved on to restore their temple tank. (see box: Sacred tank)"Once we started the desilting and cleaning up of the tank, even people, who had previously ignored the renovation came forward to offer their services - in the form of technical advice, monetary help or voluntary labour", reminisced Indra Kumar, a resident.
To achieve the goal, a fund - raising campaign was launched. This issue was first raised by Mangalam Balasubramanian, who heads the Pammal ladies club. The club members went from door to door seeking contributions. "We accepted whatever sum was given. One person contributed a rupee, which we accepted gratefully," shared Mahalakshmi Janarthanan, a member of the club.
To attract the attention of the people, the fund raisers used a catchy line, Oru addiku munnuru rooba - which means, for one foot (of the temple tank wall), Rs 300 were required. However, adi in tamil language also means a beating,thus, making many residents laugh at the pun and contribute the requisite amount.
Sri Sankara Vidyalaya, the Exnora Innovators club, the Rotary club, Pammal tanneries association and a few individuals were the major contributors. About Rs 13 lakhs were raised through this campaign.
The ease with which the community mobilised itself to collect funds, was the direct result of the change in the mindsets of the people, who had experienced the positive impact of implementing rainwater harvesting in their houses. Initially they used to say, Namakken vambu?, which means why bother? But when they realised that the quality of water in the wells of the houses has improved and, the money they spent on buying the resource during summers has declined - their attitudes changed. Balasubramanian rightly explains, "For any community effort to be successful, the change must be visual."
More than half of the fund was utilised to strengthen the banks of the tank, by constructing a wall around it. This measure was taken up to protect the tank from degeneration in the future.
In September 2001, the works began and within three months the project was successfully completed, despite heavy rains. Seeing the peoples enthusiasm, the administration of Kanchipuram district also joined in, by extending its support to the project.
The results of the work have surprised the residents as well. "This year in May, we had at least 11 feet of water as compared to the four feet last summer", says Indra Kumar. Both the quality and quantity of water in the region have improved, due to the restoration of the tank.For further information:
No. 5A, Plot No. 105, 7th Street
Sri Sankara Nagar, Pammal
Chennai 600 075
Tel: 2484283 / 2484841
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