Chennai: It was an indigenous system that fell by the wayside with the advent of the British. The Tamilnadu budget this year seeks to revive the concept of 'kudimaramath' to save the water resources in the State and this is largely welcomed by experts.
The government has earmarked an incentive of Rs 100 crore for a revamp of the 'kudimaramath' system.
In Tamil, 'kudi' means people, and 'maramath' English meaning is repair. So, it was aptly named 'kudimaramath' where community participated to maintain the vital resources.
Unfortunately, the system collapsed in the mid-18th century when British identified agriculture as an important source for generating revenue for them."In order to generate revenue, the British established the Public Works Department. When PWD took over the system, people started drifting away from community participation, but, the PWD, too, never had sufficient resources to perform its duty," notes Professor Janakrajan of Madras Institute of Development Studies.
"We have thousands of tanks, lakes and other water bodies, but the PWD cannot take care of all due to resource crunch. This made us neglect our resources all these years. Consequently, tanks, waterways and surplus ways were not desilted for years together. It is in a messed up state where bunds and sluices remain damaged without proper maintenance," he adds.
He says, subsequently, the storage capacity of water bodies reduced drastically and surplus channels were encroached over time. The success of implementing the original 'kudimaramath' project in the State will be minimal, claim experts. But, they say involving various stakeholders in the project will help to achieve the desired results.
"Engaging brick kiln labourers, construction workers for dredging, and other interested parties, namely NGOs, at nominal costs would make the whole activity efficient. The State should have faith in people to make this possible," he says.
Concurring with him, convener of Arappor Iyakkam, Jayaram Venkatesan, says, "It is a welcome step with the community exercising control over natural resources. The communities will have a more active role to play in their maintenance, too. Along with community participation, the State has to promote community vigilance over natural resources. This will be crucial in deciding the success of the initiative."
CONNECTING VIA SOCIAL MEDIA
Shanmugam, Member of Sembakkam Lake Restoration Committee, says, "An important point to be noted is that an interested individual would not mind travelling long distance to be part of it. We circulate information largely via social media. Further, we maintain a database of interested individuals and promptly intimate them about our next initiatives, If we reach out for 1,000, then we manage to get few hundreds, which is more than sufficient."
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