Innovation at its best

Mohammad is an auto driver in Vittal, a small town in Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka. Each summer, as the mercury rises to its highest levels, he can be found inside wells. It’s his unique profession of digging tube-wells that takes him inside dug wells.

This started way back in 1986. In 1983, there was an unprecedented drought all around. Mohammad was impressed by surangas, the man-made caves that have served as water-harvesting structures for long. A man-sized cave is painstakingly dug, and finally the water oozes out from only one or two tiny eyes.

Mohammad used to dream about simplifying this process, with a simple twist to that approach; “why can’t we dig a miniature suranga, by pushing a pipe into the soil?” This, if successful, would be far cheaper and faster than the suranga. After much thought, he designed a drilling bit, and by joining small pieces of galvanized iron pipes started piercing the soil. And lo, it worked

Thanks to his innovations, hundreds of farmers have been able to overcome their water shortages. But for his technology, they would have had vertical tube wells dug, paying huge sums in risky attempts to find the life-giving water; worse still, they would have lowered the ground-water table over time.

Instead, with Mohammad’s help they have a harvester they can afford, and the comfort in knowing that they’re not hurting their long-term water prospects. “I have no regrets for the Rs.5,000 I have spent”, a smiling Rai was heard saying at the end of the day Mohammad’s team finished its work on his farm

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