It's been a five-year-long struggle but Coimbatore-based environmental and social activist Manikandan's efforts are paying off.
The 39-year old activist is among the 36 people selected across the country by Union Ministry for Jal Shakthi to receive the water warrior award instituted by the ministry. He will receive the award later this month at New Delhi from Union Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.
Manikandan formed the organisation 'Kovai Kulangal Padhukappu Amaippu' on 5 February 2017, and has been at the forefront of desilting lakes, ponds and removing plastic wastes and Seemaikaruvelam trees.
He, along with 100 volunteers drawn from a cross-section of society, including drivers, techies, housewives, and union workers, took up the initiative and has since then improved the groundwater level as well as filling of water in tanks, ponds, and lakes.
Manikantan while speaking to IANS said: "I'm thankful to the government of India and the Jal Shakti department for selecting me for the prestigious 'Water warrior' award. This is for our team and will be an inspiration to do more in conservation and protection of water sources and improving groundwater levels."
The 39-year-old conservationist said that the first initiative taken up by the organisation was clearing of Seemai Karuvelam trees at Perur Periyakulam for which they spent Rs 10 lakh. He said that people from all walks of life are supporting the organisation in the conservation of water both physically as well as chipping in with small contributions.
He said that after the team's work of desilting 21.5 km of inlet points of Vellalore lake, the Vellalore lake is filled with water after 15 years. The young social worker also said that the team's work has led to the filling of Perur big tank (265 acres) and Kattampatty lake (160 acre).
He said that around 10,000 native tree saplings, herbal plants, and flowering plants that attract birds and butterflies were planted under Miyawaki method at Vellalore lake.
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