B. Kailasam’s 55-minute long movie “Writing on Water” [...] captures a couple of success stories wrought in the last few years by the Change Management Group (CMG) [of the Tamilnadu Water Supply and Drainage Board (TWAD)] in the attitude of government officials and the resulting success in villages in the State.
S. Panneerselvam, an Assistant Engineer with TWAD, is featured in the movie as an example of a government engineer whose attitude changed with the ideas of the CMG. But when he was posted to the Endhal Panchayat, he understood the power of folk history and “critical design.”
“The villages in the panchayat had access to only salt water and people used to go to Tiruvannamalai town or nearby places to get good water. I heard an 85-year-old man telling stories from his youth about the local deity promising water if the forest around her temple was tended to,” he says in the feature. Enquiries with people revealed the existence of a well long in disuse. Constantly haranguing the villagers and the Forest Department officials (under whose jurisdiction the area around the well fell) about it, Mr. Panneerselvam managed to bring the well back to regular use.
“When constructing the well and the pumping stations for the different villages, we followed “critical design” ideas. We only built based on the demand and did not try to build very large tanks. We also collected money from villagers on a voluntary basis to make them understand that the well was important for them,” he says.
These stories reflect the importance of concepts that the CMG, formed by senior engineers from TWAD, Agricultural Engineering and other departments, advocates, says Dr. Suresh when participating in the post-screening discussion.
The movie, which was screened [at the World Water Forum] in Istanbul, right now focuses on the Pan-Asia Colloquium on Water held in Chennai in September  and a couple of achievements of the CMG, Mr. Kailasam says.
But he adds that the movie is still a work in progress and the final feature would talk in general about the issues connected with water management.
Contact: B. Kailasam, bkailasam [at] gmail.com
Source: The Hindu, 11 Apr 2009