Harvesting the bounty, uniquely

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Express News Service

CHIKKAMAGALURU: When everyone hoped for good, bountiful rain this year, the torrent that followed was not what the people of Karnataka were prepared for. Nonetheless, the worst of monsoon seems to be behind us. But for a region that plays to the tune of the rain, Malnad is blessed with people who understand rainwater well.

Take the case of this innovator from Chikkamagaluru, who is using an indigenous approach to harvest rainwater, and using it to replenish borewells that go dry in summer. Michael Sadananda Baptist, Managing Director, Rainwater Harvesting Research Centre at Hadihalli, has found his own method to contain rain damage, which he has demonstrated at his Anuraga Farm near Adishaktinagar. Thanks to the ‘V-Wire Injection Well Technology’, his farm saw minimal damage despite the downpour.

Not too amused by the rain
As the name suggests, Malnad is the ‘land of rain’. People here have coexisted with rain for generations, adjusting their lifestyle and diet suited to the sailing of the clouds. This year, however, they here were not pleased with the rainy season as it wreaked havoc. While most farmers were disturbed by the untimely and abundant rainfall, coffee and areca planters are worried about saving their ripe yields. Even farmers in the plains are in a state of distress as their ragi and maize crops have fallen to the ground in waterlogged fields.

This is where Baptist sees things differently. While others perceive rainwater as destructive, for this innovator, it has opened floodgates of opportunity finding efficient ways to harness this all-important resource.

How does the system work?
His V-Wire Well Technology utilises runoff rainwater to replenish borewells. Baptist has constructed a 30/60 ft broad and 10 ft deep tank at his farm, which collects rainwater. When the tank fills to the brim, excess water flows along a canal to the V-Wire Injection Well, which impounds water that comes in good use during summer which sees water scarcity.

The technology consists of a silt trap unit, a recharge pit (5-6 metres deep with a 20 per cent space for a filtration medium, consisting of crushed stone, gravel, coarse sand and activated charcoal. The rest of the space is to store water) and a recharging bore (45-100 metres) at the bottom of the pit. The rainwater is led through a channel to the first recharge silt trap, which settles the silt in the chamber. The overflowed water is then led into the injection well. Meanwhile, the percolator pipe attached to a non-clogging V-Wire screen passes through permeable strata, and recharges the groundwater.

Baptist says, “At a time when rain is causing enough damage, besides the uncertainty from global warming, rainwater can be used as a source of natural sustenance even in summer, by recharging borewells.”

This low-cost method has helped many farmers in the plains to harvest rainwater, especially during droughts. This successful system is being replicated in neighbouring districts as well. Baptist told TNSE that many panchayats in different districts too have have adopted the technology. “The Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panachayat has recommended use of this technology in its limits,” he says, reiterating the relevance of his marvel for the monsoons.

Student innovator
Michael Sadananda Baptist, a resident of Adishaktinagar on the outskirts of Chikkamagaluru, has a diploma in engineering. Even during his college days, he had an inventor’s streak. He came up with technical ideas after associating with the Kirloskar Solar Power Plant and the Jindal group. During a period of water shortage at Adishaktinagar years ago, Baptist’s father had advised him to find a solution. He then chanced upon harvesting rainwater to recharge borewells. Going forward, he started a rainwater harvesting research centre at Hadihalli, which is helping farmers today.

Bountiful rain has exasperated farmers and other people this year. An innovator from Chikkamagaluru is using homegrown technology to harvest the nature’s bounty and replenish borewells to tackle water scarcity



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