Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens can change the World. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead
The Water Warrior Award for South Zone 2019-20, instituted by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India, was awarded to R. Manikandan, an environmental activist and Coordinator of the Registered NGO Kovai Kulangal Pathukappu Amaippu, (Coimbatore Lakes and Water bodies Conservation Organization), based in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu. He magnanimously donated the award amount of Rs 2.00 lakhs for an afforestation project, wherein 2000 tree saplings were planted on the Perur Lake Bund on 01.08.2021, by volunteers of KKPA, School and College Students, NCC, RAF, and the general public. Since the land was a narrow strip adjacent to the Perur Lake, Miyawaki method of plantation was followed and the project was aptly named Perur Lake Water Warrior Afforestation Park.
Coimbatore reeled under severe water shortage in 2017 and the realization dawned on a small committed group of 14 citizens, that the solution to Coimbatore’s water woes lay in cleaning and de-silting its lakes, ponds, water sources, canals, anaicuts, check dams and thus Kovai Kulangal Pathugappu Amaippu (KKPA), was formed on 05.02.2017, with Manikandan as its Coordinator. They resolved to contribute their voluntary labour every Sunday for 3-4 hours on projects to revive, recover, rejuvenate and reclaim the water bodies in and around Coimbatore. They observed that wherever people’s involvement in the maintenance and protection of lakes was minimal and lacking, the lakes went dry due to negligence. Also, areas where the lakes were safeguarded and sustained by a strong local community, the lakes flourished. Hence it was decided by this small group to concentrate on lakes that were neglected, revive these lakes, and establish a bond between the local populace and water body, in order to ensure future maintenance and protection.
Till date this active group which has grown to 100 regular volunteers have worked on 224 Sundays (excluding Covid Lockdown period), and with the help of the College and School Students, NCC, RAF, other local NGO’s, and Local Public, have completed a number of projects, as detailed below.
VISION AND MISSION STATEMENTS
The volunteer group formed by like-minded people to rejuvenate the river Noyyal and its water bodies. It was formed in 2017 at Perur lake where we have pledged to clean the lakes by removing the plastics, de-silting, etc., Soon we attracted the public in and around Coimbatore and started to clean Noyyal River and the lakes on all the weekends. We, now in the 100th week of water bodies cleanup work, awareness and plantation drives. We cleaned 5 Lakes in Coimbatore, created 3 Miyawaki forests, and planted more than one lakh Palm seeds.
KEY ACTIVITIES DONE SO FAR
It is very important to gain knowledge from the work we do. In fact, it will help to keep us focused in the path we progress. In order to that, we planned do a rally across the check dams of Coimbatore.
We have 19 check dams in and around our city. With our volunteers support we gathered public and students at a point and started our rally sharing the details of the respective check dam.
Also I have organized a big event by bringing the most important person whose advise is need of the hour for our city. Rajendra Singh is a well-known water conservationist from Alwar district, Rajasthan in India.
Also known as “Water man of India”, he won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for community leadership in 2001 for his pioneering work in community-based efforts in water harvesting and water management. His advise and experience help our team on the technical side.
We are now concentrating on to increasing the green coverage and restoring ground water level all over the city. To increase the green coverage, we have planted over 6000 saplings of native trees using Miyawaki method (dense forest concept) surrounding Vellalore Lake. Apart from that we have planted 1000 herbal plants and 1500 other all variety plants in the same location. Our overall target is to plant at least 16000 saplings around Vellalore Lake and more in and around the city.
As a result the tank is cleaned and filled with Noyyal river water after 17 years and the lake becoming a new birds sanctuary of Coimbatore.
Palm trees have N number of uses from its top to bottom. It is known for its benefits when they are planted near water bodies. Our literature confirm the same. Recently we are severely losing our state tree due to various reason. In order to save them and to protect the water bodies we decided to plant 1 Lakh Palm seed in and around lakes from Siruvani to Perur. This was done from Oct-3rd to Oct-7th in order to strengthen the bunds and help recharging the ground water table.
Revamping the water canals are the most important part of restoring the lakes in Coimbatore. So far we have revamped 19.50 Kms of water canal in Coimbatore and 1250 Tons of sludge has been removed. This action played a vital role in filling up the Vellalore lake with the Noyyal River water. It took two years for us to complete the task with the help of Government, volunteers, and other supporters. We are yet to clean many other water canals.
We have already crossed 176 weeks of continuous fieldwork. Of which, around 50 weeks have been spent on cleaning the lakes and spreading awareness to the public. With the support of volunteers, we have removed 50 tons of plastics manually from various the lakes in Coimbatore. We regularly concentrated on the main ponds in the city and attracted public attention to the need to protect the ponds. This movement, which started with just 10 people, is now having over five thousand direct and indirect volunteers & supporters.
The story of noyyal
Rivers were the main reason for humans standing in one place and growing civilization. The Noyyal River was a sign of the Kongu region in Tamil Nadu and the reason for agriculture. The ancient archaeological site of Kodumanal is located on the banks of this river.The Noyyal River originates in Coimbatore, in the forests near the state boundary of Kerala, on the Western Ghats. Various creeks forming in the Western Ghats are joined by Thombilipalayam in three small rivers called Periyar, Chinnar, & Thollaiyiram Murthy Kandy.
The famous waterfalls Kovai Kutralam is located in Periyar and the Vaidhegi Falls is in Thollaiyiram Murthy Kandai. It is here that the river gets its name Noyyal. Then the river flows 180 Kms through Perur, Kuniyamuthur, Vellalore, Irugur, Sulur, Mangalam, Tirupur, Orathupalayam and joins Kaveri River at Noyyal, Karur.
Noyyal needs us
With the help and support of the government, private companies, media and the volunteers, we have de-silted 19 kms of water canals plus 400 acres of lakes and planted more than one lakh palm trees. We have been doing all these through the fieldwork on each Sunday morning. So far, we have completed 163 weeks of continuous field works. As, how mothers’ breast milk is important to a baby, Mother nature’s water is important for all forms of life. Due to modernization our water bodies are polluted heavily, and as a polluter we have the responsibility to prevent it and revamp them. Though the government is making efforts, nothing is possible without the participation of the public. That's why we have formed KKPA and working on to enhance the banks of the river, remove the sludge from the canals, & the lakes and to increase the green cover throughout the city.
With the help and support of the government, private companies, media and the volunteers, we have de-silted 19 kms of water canals plus 400 acres of lakes and planted more than one lakh palm trees. We have been doing all these through the fieldwork on each Sunday morning. So far, we have completed 196 weeks of continuous field works.
Following are the task we have currently involved in
- 1. Creating a biodiversity model at Vellalore lake.
- 2. Sowing palm seeds alongside the bunds of water bodies and on the sides of water channel.
- 3. Distillation of ponds
- 4. Recovery of waterways.
- 5. Maintaining the check-dams
- 6. Setting up green cover and herbal forest around the water bodies.
- 7. Awareness session at schools and colleges
- 8. Plastic cleaning drive at lake area.