Manikandan who formed Kovai Kulangal Pathukappu Amaippu has won the best water warrior award for his unparalleled services to revive the city rivers and lakes.
It was any other day for R Manikandan when he was watching TV at his residence in Sundarapuram when the news broke out: He had won the Best Water warrior award -south zone for 2019.
It was handed over by the Union Ministry of Jai Shakthi, Department of water resources, river department and ganga rejuvenation. “I was informed about it in January, but was asked not to share it with anyone till the official announcement was made. Even my family came to know about it through the news broadcast,” says the 38-year-old Manikandan.
He is the rightful founder of Kovai Kulangal Pathukappu Amaippu that intends to work tirelessly to protect the water bodies. Manikandan has been working hard to revive the lake and rivers for three years by now. “Over these years, our team has cleaned six lakes, two canals and four check-dams. I have also created a Miyawaki forest with 7,500 native varieties of trees on the bunds of Vellalore tank,” claims R Manikandan.
His NGO has close to 2000 active volunteers with a vision to protect bodies, the team includes even students who work on the weekends. “During lockdown, we cleaned Vellachi kuttai near Kuppanur; Makali Amman Kovil kuttai near Chennanur and Kadaikaran kuttai at Devarayapuram. All the three ponds are in catchment areas of river Noyyal.”
The long day work started by getting rid of overgrown bushes, making the ponds more deeper and fortifying the bunds. “This is important as it recharges groundwater, which helps vegetation in the area, which will in turn facilitate rainfall. It is all interdependent,” he says.
R Manikandan is widely aware of the huge bundle of responsibility that has come his way along with the critical recognition. “I will continue this work till I know all the water-bodies in the city are clear,” he says. The NGO team has collected intel on over 900 ponds in Coimbatore alone. “We plan to check each one and revive those that are neglected. We are also on a mission to find information on water-bodies in the city. Once done, the data will be uploaded on our website and can be accessed by anyone.” he says.
Manikadan claims that the real pain point is the obvious dumping of garbage on the water bodies. “Consider Coimbatore, which has the Noyyal running through it. It is choked with sewage and solid waste and therefore our drinking water comes from the Bhavani, This should change. We should learn to take care of local natural resources.” he says.