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#GoodNews: 115-Yr-Old Well Revived to Save Drought-Hit Thrissur 

The 36-foot-deep well used to be the sole source of water for Thrissur railway station before it fell into disuse. 

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Environment
4 min read
The 115-year-old well that is bringing relief to drought-hit Thrissur in Kerala. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/forgotten-decades-115-yr-old-well-saving-day-drought-hit-thrissur-rail-station-63228">The News Minute</a>)
#GoodNews: 115-Yr-Old Well Revived to Save  Drought-Hit Thrissur 

Four decades after it was abandoned, a 115-year-old well in Kerala’s Thrissur has come to the rescue of railway officials struggling with the aftermath of one of the worst droughts to hit the state in decades.

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The 36-foot-deep well was built in 1902. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/forgotten-decades-115-yr-old-well-saving-day-drought-hit-thrissur-rail-station-63228">The News Minute</a>)
The 36-foot-deep well was built in 1902. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

The 36-foot-deep well, which was built in 1902, used to be the sole source of water for the Thrissur railway station.

It was in the year 1902 that the Ernakulam-Shornur railway track was built. During the time, steam engines ran on charcoal, and this required a lot of water. The giant well was built in the compound for this purpose, under the guidance of the British and the Kochi Maharaja. They had even brought a hand-pump from England, that was placed on the rim of the well. This pumped water would then be stored in a water tank placed at a height.
Joseph Ninan, Thrissur Station Manager

Besides being used in the steam engines, water from the well was also used for cleaning the station and for the drinking needs of passengers. However, sometime between 1975 and 1978, diesel engines made their entry into Kerala, and the well lost a major part of its use.

The well nonetheless remained a source of drinking water, until piped supply from the Peechi dam rendered it redundant. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/forgotten-decades-115-yr-old-well-saving-day-drought-hit-thrissur-rail-station-63228">The News Minute</a>)
The well nonetheless remained a source of drinking water, until piped supply from the Peechi dam rendered it redundant. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

The well nonetheless remained a source of drinking water, until piped supply from the Peechi dam rendered it redundant. Once it stopped being a major lifeline, the well began to suffer from the neglect.

Once we stopped using the water from the well, people began to dump garbage in the area. Nobody did maintenance of the area and soon it was forgotten that there was a well there.
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Once it stopped being a major lifeline, the well began to suffer from the neglect. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/forgotten-decades-115-yr-old-well-saving-day-drought-hit-thrissur-rail-station-63228">The News Minute</a>)
Once it stopped being a major lifeline, the well began to suffer from the neglect. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

The Rediscovery

All of that changed after Kerala was hit by one of the worst droughts it has faced in over a century. The government declared the state drought-hit in October 2016, as water levels in most of the state's dams began dipping to alarming levels.

The Thrissur railway station, which sees 166 trains pass through each day, did not have enough water for drinking water supply and for the toilets at the station. Sometime in February, the water supply from the Peechi dam was completely cut for a few days, forcing the officials at the railway station to find another source.

There was absolutely no water in the toilets and for other cleaning purposes. There is a well owned by the railways situated in Aluva near the Periyar river and we got water tankers to supply us water from there.  
Joseph Ninan, Station Manager

This could only be a stop-gap solution, however, and Station Manager Joseph eventually hit upon rejuvenating the old well on the station premises.

Incredibly, when officials examined the well, they found that underneath layers of garbage and weeds, the well had a plentiful supply of water that could more than serve the needs of the station.

Not every part of the well’s quaint history could be preserved, however, as the hand-pump that had been imported from England in 1902 was no longer in a state to be repaired. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/forgotten-decades-115-yr-old-well-saving-day-drought-hit-thrissur-rail-station-63228">The News Minute</a>)
Not every part of the well’s quaint history could be preserved, however, as the hand-pump that had been imported from England in 1902 was no longer in a state to be repaired. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

He approached architect MM Vinod, and the duo went to Agriculture Minister VS Sunil Kumar, another Thrissur man, for help and funds.

The Minister was elated. He was determined that if Thrissur has such a historic structure, then it needs to be preserved. After the District Collector inspected the spot, a sum of Rs 21 lakh was granted for the cleaning work.
Joseph Ninan, Station Manager
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Well Unveiled On World Environment Day

Fittingly, the cleaning and renewal of the historic well – which had fallen into a highly polluted state – was completed on 5 June, the day the world celebrates as Environment Day.

Not every part of its quaint history could be preserved, however, as the hand-pump that had been imported from England in 1902 was no longer in a state to be repaired.

So, officials are now in the process of installing new motor pumps. They are glad that such a plentiful, convenient water source could be found in the midst of the massive water crisis.

“It is only when we are confronted with a crisis, do we realise that we need to preserve our natural resources. One cannot imagine digging such a giant well anymore,” Ninan said.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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