Ground Report | New Delhi: Amai Mahalinga Naik, a hard-working farmer from Dakshina Kannada, finds a name in the list of winners of Padma Shri in the “Other – Agriculture” category announced by the Union government on the eve of Republic Day. He had turned a piece of barren land into a flourishing farm in the village of Kepu, some distance from Mangaluru, the Times of India reported.
Amai Mahalinga Tunnel Man
In his 70s, Naik said he was happy with the selection and remembered Mahabala Bhat, who had given him the barren land on top of a hill in the 1970s. Naik is often hailed as the “Suranga Man” or the “Tunnel Man” and is known to be a one-man army.
Naik is illiterate and has been relentlessly searching for him for more than 40 years. According to a report by The New Indian Express, Naik’s farm is organic with a zero-energy micro-irrigation system.
After the Padma Shri Center announcement for him, Jal Shakti Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat tweeted about Naik. He wrote: “What a life, what an achievement. Karnataka’s ‘one-man army’ Amai Mahalinga Naik who was awarded the Padma Shri Award.”
The story of Amai Mahalinga’s journey, a worker to become a ‘Tunnel Man’, is very interesting and inspiring. Amai Mahalinga was a worker and had the habit of hard work in his nature and because of this, a person, happy with his hard work, gave him a 2-acre piece of barren land as a reward.
Amai Mahalinga had neither the money nor the knowledge of any technology to spend a lot on irrigation on the barren land on the high hill, but for this difficult task, he decided to build a Tunnel. But more manpower was needed to dig more tunnels.
But Amai Mahalinga did not lose her courage and began to dig the tunnel. Actually, Amai Mahalinga believed that even when modern irrigation equipment did not exist, irrigation was done in the traditional way and with the help of this confidence, he took his steps forward. But there was much difficulty on this path.
4 years of hard work
Now, Naik has improved the traditional Surangas that tap deep into the rocks to facilitate the flow of water without the help of a pump and has built a small water reservoir. Naik grows around 300 areca nut palms, as well as many coconut palms, bananas, pepper vines and cacao on his hilltop farm.
Over the years, there are many shining examples where citizens have taken matters into their own hands. Bihar’s famous ‘Canal Man’, Laungi Bhuiyan, finished building a 3km-long canal that he had single-handedly worked on for 30 long years, in 2020. His goal was to bring rainwater from the nearby hills to the fields of his village, Kothilawa in the Lahthua area of Gaya. Bhuiyan now wants to dig his second canal to carry rainwater from the hills to five villages in Gaya, ANI reported.
For four years, the determined farmer dug tunnels and tunnels by himself in search of water without success. Four of his attempts were absolute failures. But this did not lessen his determination. He dug a fifth tunnel on high ground and found moisture on the ceiling when he reached 50 feet. On his sixth try, he found water at a distance of 315 feet fulfilling his dream. Later he dug the seventh tunnel to provide water for domestic use.
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