Even as Tamil Nadu reels under a water crisis, some of the villages in Vellore district of the state have managed to find sufficient water for drinking and irrigating their fields, according to a report by The Times of India.
The reason, according to the report, is the efforts put by around 20,000 women for four years in building several boulder checks and 3,500 recharge wells to get a dry river to flow again.
The river, called Naganadhi, was the primary source of water for the region but had been dry for around 15 years. With the help of recharge wells built by the women, the rainwater directed into shallow aquifers and enhanced groundwater levels.
The report states that with water bodies drying up and Vellore's agricultural labour migrating, the womenfolk, with the help of Art of Living Foundation (AOL), decided to revive the river.
"A river flows above the surface only after the groundwater has been replenished. Therefore, reviving a river isn't just about its flow, but getting enough water to seep into the ground," said Chandrasekaran Kuppan, director of the Naganadhi Rejuvenation Project.
Since the project had government approval, the women were registered as workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA), which ensured that they also earn in the process.
A team used satellite-mapping to create an action plan based on the area's geology, land cover, rainfall data and catchment area.
"I can now grow water-intensive paddy in my land, something I could not have imagined a couple of years ago," Nathiya, among the women included in the first batch for the project, told the newspaper.
The Collector of Vellore, SA Raman, told the publication that the results borne out of the project encouraged them to start such projects in other areas as well.