The Kadhiyanur irrigation tank in Iravadhanallur stands out for its clean water amid the dry or dirty ponds and water bodies dotting Madurai city. “Three years back, you would have only noticed the dirty water; now, it has been desilted and cleaned and provides water to over 50 acres of farmland. Local contributions and the work by the DHAN (Development of Humane Action) Foundation made this possible,” says M. Sedhuramu, a farmer in Iravadhanallur. The Vayalagam Tankfed Agriculture Development Programme (VTADS) is the one that inspired them. “We approached the Dhan Foundation in 2016. They selected five farmers (three men and two women) and took us to Bengaluru to see a few water bodies which had been revived. Based on our first-hand experience, we devised a plan to desilt the Kadhiyanur tank,” says Sedhuramu.
The Kadhiyanur tank was 9 acres wide, so they first constructed a boundary wall around it. The water for the tank comes from the Chottaithatti canal but with the sewage flowing in en route, the tank was only getting dirty water. The team opted for the Kalvazhai (Canna Indica) plant to desilt the water in a natural, organic manner.
Project executive S. Lokesh says, “The 2-km long stretch of the canal from the border of Iravadhanallur till the tank was widened to 14 feet to enable the water to flow freely. The water hyacinth clogging the flow was also removed.” With the tank desilted, groundwater quality in the locality has also improved. The project cost was a big challenge. “It cost us Rs 20 lakh, out of which Rs 18 lakh came from a few other corporates while Rs 2 lakh was raised by the locals,” says Sedhuramu proudly.
“The Dhan Foundation has desilted more than 2,000 ponds and 104 water bodies so far,” says N. Venkatesan, VTADS project leader. The VTADS is currently being implemented in all seven states in south India. Locals are involved in the work relating to the removal of encroachments and desilting which not only cuts the cost of the project but also provides jobs.