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Doing its BITS for tsunami

It's team effort at its best. And it has turned things around for two tsunami-ravaged villages in Tamil Nadu?s Nagapattinam district.

india Updated: Jan 12, 2006 02:26 IST

It's team effort at its best. And it has turned things around for two tsunami-ravaged villages in Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam district.

The BITSunami Trust — set up by the BITS (Pilani) worldwide alumni to provide long-term rehabilitation to tsunami victims — adopted Naluvedapathy and Pushpavanam villages. The initiative had the backing of corporate houses like Wipro, WeP, HP, AllSec, RedHat and iSoft. Today, the results of the good work are there for all to see.

The Trust was started with the aim of taking rehabilitation beyond ad hoc relief activities and of identifying problems capable of causing permanent damage to the ecology if not corrected immediately. The job ahead was daunting.

Seawater after the tsunami strike had left saline deposits on large tracts of agricultural land. A quick soil test of 125 acres in the villages revealed six inches of topsoil had salinity. Tractors were deployed immediately to shave off the affected layer and make the land fit for farming. Any delay, coupled with rains, would have meant long-term damage to the soil.

Task number two was to help fishermen rebuild their boats. For this, a boat manufacturing unit was set up in the villages. Today, 10 fibre-reinforced plastic boats manufactured by the unit are in use.

The BITSunami team then went on to construct a new school and rebuild and repair several old ones. Toilet blocks for girls were constructed in 12 schools to stop them from dropping out. Toilet blocks for boys are being constructed now. The move is expected to curb age-old bad sanitation practices in villages. How’s that for progressive thinking?

That’s not all. On October 1, 2005, the Trust took up a marathon tree plantation project at Pushpavanam village in collaboration with Wiprocare. Result: Over 2,54,464 saplings were planted. This broke the earlier Guinness Record set at Naluvedapathy (80,244 saplings).

The Trust is currently gearing up to capitalise on the ecological plantations in Pushpavanam and Naluvedapathy by setting up a biomass-based power generation unit.

With good work comes appreciation. Wipro, which initially promised Rs 1 crore for the project, has now committed Rs 2.5 crore.

First Published: Jan 12, 2006 02:26 IST