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Meet the water Warrior who restored 118 water bodies, benefiting 25 villages

by Rishika Choudhury

Date & Time: Sep 17, 2022 9:00 AM

Read Time: 3 minute

Nimal Raghavan, who was born in Thanjavur, had a high-paying job as a software developer in Dubai. When he returned to his hometown in November of 2018, his perspectives would shift.

This was shortly after Cyclone Gaja, which caused massive damage to the Kaveri Delta's banks, killed 45 people, and damaged over one lakh homes. When Nimal arrived in Nadiyam village, he discovered that it was one of the 90 villages destroyed by the disaster. They were all known for their agricultural cover.

“After the news went viral, some of my friends, who were working abroad but had plans to eventually settle in India, changed their minds. The most unfortunate thing was that generations of farmers who lived here started abandoning their only source of livelihood⁠ and moving to cities in search of employment,” recalls Nimal.

But the 35-year-old couldn't leave his property because he knew nothing would be left for his next visit. So he quit his job to work for his land and restore the glory of his hometown. During 2018-2019, Nimal revitalised Peravurani Lake, one of the largest in the region. This helped in the irrigation of over 6,000 acres of agricultural land. He also planted 25,000 saplings throughout the Kaveri Delta region with a team of like-minded volunteers.

Saving lakes and lives

Needless to say, this was a difficult task. It took careful planning, execution, and, most importantly, money.

Nimal began relief efforts with a social media campaign called #BounceBackDelta, in which he provided clothing, groceries, household necessities, and money to those affected by the cyclone.

Inspired by Vimal's work, a group of young people from Nadiyam launched another campaign, #DeltaSaplingChallenge, to help restore the region's lost trees.

This was just the start. Nimal visited each village in the Kaveri Delta region and spoke with farmers to learn about their concerns. He discovered that water scarcity is a major issue everywhere.

So far, Nimal and his team have spent more than Rs 32 lakh to revitalise the lake, with the help of villagers and well-wishers.

He is now a member of several organisations, including the Kadaimadai Area Integrated Farmers Association (KAIFA), BIOTASOIL Foundation, Exnora International, Oor Koodi 
Oorani Kaappom, Nam Thamirabarani, and Mega Foundation, which all work on restoration projects in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

“Our major activities include water body restoration, Miyawaki plantation, mangrove forests plantation as well as conservation, rain water harvesting and water treatment,” says Nimal.

“We work for the betterment of farmers and fishermen. The water bodies we restored made freshwater available for farmers and common people for domestic and agricultural use. Cattles and livestock have easy access to water now, which was not the case earlier. This improved species diversity too.”

“So far, more than 40 lakh people have benefited from restored water bodies, which have helped them access fresh drinking water, irrigate agricultural land, and earn livelihood. Together, we have restored a total of 118 water bodies across Tamil Nadu,” he adds.

Nimal's long-term goals include expanding his programmes to all rural India, raising more funds to expand the team's work, and introducing new technologies to increase the efficacy of the efforts.

Also Read: Six railway stations at Mumbai to get drinking water from air

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