Meet the ‘lake man’ of Karnataka who has dug 16 ponds in 42 years!

PM Modi said that the ponds dug by the farmer may be small but his “efforts are huge". (Twitter)

New Delhi (NVI): 84-year-old Kame Gowda, a shepherd from a remote village in Karnataka’s Mandya district, has spent almost half of his life digging ponds to overcome water scarcity as well as quench the thirst of animals and birds in the area.

The octogenarian has dug 16 ponds in his village in the last 42 years, which has immensely benefitted the ecosystem in the area. Also known as ‘pond man’ or ‘lake man’ at his native place, Kame Gowda has spent almost all of his life’s savings on his passion.

40 years back, a younger Gowda realised that the Kundinibetta hill next to his village in Malavalli Taluk, Mandya, had sparse shrubs with almost no greenery. While taking his cattle for grazing at Dasandoddi village, he saw that animals and birds had a tough time in the area due to lack of watering holes or water bodies, especially during hot summer days.

It was then, that he started digging ponds in the area, without giving a second thought and nothing has stopped him since then. Even at this age, he wakes up early in the morning and explores the slightest possibility of digging a new pond. In all these years, Gowda has grazed his sheep during the daytime, while making sure he wakes up early the next morning to restart again.

The shepherd’s passion to make life easy for animals and birds in the area is evident from the fact that he spent the reward money from the prestigious Kannada Rajyotsava award and Basavashri Award he received.

The ordinary man with extraordinary passion has become the talk of the town since his remarkable story was narrated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his monthly Mann Ki Baat radio address. In the 66th edition of his radio address yesterday, the Prime Minister praised Gowda for his selfless passion that became a “personal feat” for him.

Gowda has never expected any award or reward for a work that he is enjoying for the past four decades. “He has achieved a personal feat that will leave anyone awestruck! Kamegowdaji, aged 80-85 takes out his animals for grazing but at the same time he has taken it upon himself to build new ponds in his area,” the PM said in his radio address.

The PM said that the ponds dug by the farmer may be small but his “efforts are huge”.

Kame Gowda is an unsung hero and a living example of the undying human spirit. By 2018, he had constructed 14 ponds. The hill on which the ponds have been created is not barren anymore! The shepherd has literally turned no stone unturned in turning a barren hill into a lush and green area with all the ponds linked by a waterway that ensures when the upper ponds on the hill are filled, the surplus water flows into the ponds below.

He started all by himself, with a shovel, spade, pickaxe, and other tools to dig a pond, that he bought after he sold his sheep.

Gowda also had an interaction with Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat recently, during which he requested the minister to fund and facilitate the interlinking of his lakes. The minister has assured full support to the farmer while asking Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa for all possible assistance in this regard.

-ARK