Nanneer- Restoration of Naganthagal Eri, Pothur

In 2022, the Pitchandikulam forest consultants undertook a significant restoration project at Naganthagal Eri, situated in Upparapalayam village, Pothur Panchayat. This lake had played a crucial role in the past by serving as a vital groundwater reservoir and providing safe drinking water to the community. Unfortunately, due to neglect, it had become filled with silt and overrun with weeds, losing its ability to hold water. The lake’s location on the outskirts of Chennai, just above the Puzhal Lake, made it an essential water body for water conveyance and urban flood prevention during the monsoon seasons.

The restoration project, carried out in partnership with Pothur Panchayat and funded by Tata Communications limited, was aptly named “Nanneer,” which translates to “good/safe water.” Before commencing the restoration work, the Pitchandikulam team conducted a thorough biodiversity survey to identify the fauna and flora in the area. This step was crucial to reintroduce the native species that once thrived there. Subsequently, a well-planned land shaping strategy was designed for the 15.01-acre lake, incorporating features such as platforms, an island, and two small hills with walking tracks.

The land shaping phase involved careful excavation and desilting of the lake. The excavated silt and soil were then utilized to create hills, islands, and bunds, contributing to the revitalization of the lake’s ecosystem. Over five thousand plants of native species were thoughtfully planted on the bunds, platforms, island, and hills within the desilted lake area. An encouraging aspect was the involvement of TCL employees, who volunteered in the plantation work, this helped promoting awareness about water conservation and the significance of planting indigenous flora to IT urban people.

 To ensure the protection of the newly planted vegetation from cattle and other threats, the site was securely fenced. Additionally, essential infrastructure, including water facilities, toilets, huts, and seating benches, were constructed to facilitate visitors’ access and comfort.

As part of the project’s broader vision, a dedicated “Blue Green Center” (BGC) was established at the site. The BGC serves as a hub for environmental education programs, catering to school students, local youth, and anyone interested in environmental conservation. Building upon TCL’s existing support for environmental education in Chennai schools through the “School in Action” initiative, where students learned about indigenous flora and fauna at Adyar Poonga (Tholkappiar Poonga) restored by Pitchandikulam Forest in 2007, this program extended to the Nanneer site. Local students in the vicinity are invited to the BGC for enlightening environmental education experiences.

The culmination of the project saw the inauguration of the BGC by the Tiruvallur collector, with the project officially handed over to the district government, as the lake fell under their jurisdiction. The

project’s success was acknowledged through a prestigious TCL award and favorable outcomes in the biodiversity survey and Environmental Impact Assessment, reaffirming the positive impact of the restoration efforts.

Blue_green_centre_pothur Nanneer_collector 03_Schools_in_action Nanneer_student_visit CR-srini plantation Top_view_Nanneer Nanneer_island Nanneer-palmara Nanneer-palmara_02 Plantation_01 Plantation Plantation

Students visit to Kaluveli bioregion

birdwatchgStudents are taken on an exposure visit to the bio-region. An introduction is given in the class room a week before the visit. During the visit forests and wetlands are mainly covered. The students are exposed to the biodiversity within these ecosystems. Some of the unique fauna are discussed in detail with children, eg. bats, flying fox and migratory birds of the wetlands. Forests with tropical dry evergreen species and sacred groves in the villages are also covered during this trip.

Environment Awareness programme through Theru Koothu

koothuStudents perform Theru Koothu– a traditional theater form, taking environmental themes. These themes could include aspects concerning water pollution, importance of forests, waste disposal. Conducted with costume, music and performed for a larger audience, these plays attract many students and village people. They are also appreciated by the Education department, reported in newspapers giving the event a larger coverage.

School children mapping their village

villagemappingIn this activity, the students are taught about creating a base map of their village. They learn to draw out main community infrastructure like roads, schools, playground, water bodies, shops, markets, temples and health services. They identify places where big trees are and streets with houses. These maps are drawn on the ground with chalk or color powders. Elders in the village are asked to comment and make corrections. Children learn how to map using direction, scales and codes. They also learn about their village through this activity.

Know your Herbs – Herbal Class for Students

Poothurai H.SchoolThis activity is conducted with students in schools to build awareness on local herbal plants and their uses. They practically identify species found commonly in the school campus and in the school’s herbal garden. Some games related to medicinal plants are conducted. Group discussions and outdoor activities keep children interested. Education materials like posters, cards and photos are used for this activity. Children also learn how to make herbal teas. The learning outcomes are related to knowledge on local herbs and their uses for common ailments. There is increased motivation to grow medicinal plants in home and school gardens.

Eco-Village Design Program (EDE)

The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) Auroville desk based in Pitchandikulam Forest has just successfully hosted a 5 week Ecovillage Design Education Course running from 4th December 2016 to 7th January 2017!

Please follow the link for a quick info

Environmental Education in the Auroville Bio-Region


Nadukuppam High School

The Pitchandikulam Forest team is involved in environmental education across more than 100 schools in the Bio-Region. The main effort is to make the local communities aware of their region and its importance, especially the Kazhuveli water tank. Our main centre is in Nadukuppam village, where the local high school has been transformed from a low-performing school into a high-achieving model school with excellent academic standards, showing what can be achieved at this level. Children are involved actively in seeds and raising plants in the school nursery, organic agriculture, composting, conducting plays and projects on environmental issues.

Other schools across the region

We also conduct programmes in other government and private schools on themes like planting, herbal medicine, water conservation, recycling, waste, air pollution, organic vegetables, and celebrating special days like World Environment Day and Water Day.

Children on these programmes regularly visit the regenerated forests in Nadukuppam and Pitchandikulam to learn about the forest and biodiversity of both fauna and flora. This education programme is supported by four teachers, who have also formed eco-clubs in the schools for these activities.

These educational classes and tours are also open to other students and participants. There are regular visits to our forests and education centres by women from self help groups across Tamil Nadu and from government officers to learn about the bio-region, forest and animals.

Rural Women’s Theatre Workshop

GEN Auroville and Pitchandikulam hosted a two day workshop on the 1st-2nd  July 2016 for a group of fifteen mostly married women from neighbouring villages around Nadukuppam, Tamil Nadu.

rural womens workshop lo-res

One half of the group worked at Amirtha and the other at Meera, both social enterprises that have emerged from Pitchandikulam Forest’s work at Nadukuppam, a village in Auroville’s bioregion.

]The intention was to explore through Theatre of the Oppressed games and activities what it means to live as a woman in the rural Indian context, trying to unravel the narratives, the thought patterns and societal constructions of gender culminating in a forum play for the larger community.

It was faciliated by Ms. Afshan Mariam, a psychologist working in education using tools of drama, farming and mindfulness.

To see more about the workshop and its outcomes, please see here. Soul of Women workshop.pdf