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RWH Units Constructed in Thrikkadeeri GP, Palakkad during 2017-18

Thrikkadeeri Grama Panchayath in Palakkad district lies in the midland area. Geographically it is characterised by rocky hillocks and valleys. The Anganmala tourism project is located in the GP. The presence of rock at very shallow depth of 5-10 metres can be seen throughout the gram panchayath area. Hence, water scarcity is very acute in summer. Even though the Kanjhirappuzha irrigation canal passes through the GP, the wells in majority of the higher areas goes dry by the end of January. Grama Panchayath as well as the individuals spent huge amount of money every year to bring water from neighbouring areas. Supplying tanker water was a sprawling business here during summer. Even though GP has initiated many small water supply schemes, the wells of the schemes go dry in summer. Moreover sources for water supply schemes are less in the GP. Individuals spent as high as Rs 25000-Rs 30000 every year to bring tanker water.

It is at this point of time that GP thought alternative solutions to their problem. The GP saw the advertisement of Rain Centre- KRWSA in the news paper and the board decided to apply. As the scheme for 175 RWH units was sanctioned and when the staff of Rain Centre attended the Board meeting to explain about the project, we were so upset that many of the board members were sceptical about the project. In the Grma Sabha held to select the beneficiaries, only 35 beneficiaries registered their names. However, date for induction workshop was decided and arrangements made. Notice was distributed through ward members to the proposed beneficiaries. Hardly 50 members attended the workshop. Only thirteen beneficiaries remitted their beneficiary share. It took almost 3 months to achieve the initial target of 175 units. The work was began in October 2017 and completed in March 2018.

The people in this area were not at all familiar with ferro- cement RWH tanks. Very few people have seen it or knew about RWH. This was something unheard or unseen. It was interesting that as the work started and few units completed, more and more people started coming forward and slowly the project gained attention of the people. They realized the importance and use of RWH units. Moreover, the beneficiaries were convinced of the quality and workmanship of the units constructed. As a result the GP put forward application for 100 more additional units. Accordingly 235 RWH units were constructed in the GP. Now more and more people are demanding RWH units.

It is commendable that 60% of the units were constructed in Kizhur area comprising of ward 6, 7 and 8. The GP board mutually agreed on concentrating on these wards in order to solve the major issue of water in this area. In the words of the President, ‘’ Water scarcity of Kizhur was a headache to all the ward members over the last many years. By constructing 160 RWH units in these 3 wards we were able to solve this problem to a great extent. Households who had spend up to Rs 25000 or even more on water every summer, didn’t buy water during the last two years i.e. since the construction of RWH units.  It is a great blessing to us’’.  He added that, ‘during 2018 GP earmarked Rs 4.55 lakh for drinking water supply through water tanker. But since the completion of the project in March 2018, the GP need not spent any money on water supply in 2019 and in 2020. This is a great achievement. We need more units in order to cover all areas of the GP’’.

Out of 235 beneficiaries 123 or 52% of the beneficiaries were BPL families. Efforts were taken to include BPL and SC families. The water scarcity so acute that households with even 3 cent homestead land constructed the unit right in the front courtyard of their house. Fathima, Kunduparambil in ward 7 had only 3 cent land with their house and a small courtyard and they thought water is so precious that they had to spend Rs 15000-25000 every year to buy water. Now for the last two years   they did not buy any water. She built the unit in their small place. Likewise, about 30% of the households with 4-10 cents of homestead land constructed the unit in their front courtyard. Chinna Vettukattil and Thankammu Vettukattil both belonging to SC BPL families stays near the forest area on the hill slope. They carry water from the houses away from 250-300 metres during summer. During rains and up to January they get water from the gravity source. In their words, ‘’we are the most benefitted with this RWH unit. It was a suffering for us to get water in summer. Now since this is built we have enough water in summer and lot of time, money and energy are saved’’.   

All beneficiary households maintained the units well. They used water for cooking and drinking as well.  In Thrikkadeeri GP the project is very well accepted and beneficial not only in terms of water availability but also financially for individual households as well as for the GP. All households reported that they did not buy water since the unit was constructed.

It is observed that the project was a great success in Thrikkadeeri GP. Neighbouring GPs were enquiring about the project and as a result Nellaya GP has been sanctioned 100 RWH units during this year. The need and use of RWH units here are commendable. Similarly the quality of construction and timely completion of work are very important that lead to the success of the project. Area or beneficiary share was not a constraint as we can see from this GP. There were many incidents that where the SC households found money by selling their goat, taken loan from SHGs and by mortgaging earrings. It is the need that made people to sacrifice anything for water.