Namma Oor. Namma Neer.

An intensive Public-private collaborative effort to restore & rejuvenate the Waterbodies in the District.
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Nellai Digital Water Atlas

First of its kind initiative, "Nellai Digital Water Atlas" to document and map all the Waterbodies in the District.
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Restoration & Rejuvenation

Comprehensive & collaborative approach with the active support of public and volunteer organizations.
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Trails of Tamiraparani

An initiative to discover and restore the delights of the river Tamiraparani.
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Nellai Tree Mapping

An initiative by Tirunelveli District Green Committee to survey and document the traditional trees in the district
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Nellai NeerValam: About this Mission

What Who and How ?
" Neerindri Amayathu Ulagu: When water fails, functions of nature cease " - Thiruvalluvar.

Nellai Neervalam is a unique community engagement and mangement framework for water security and ecological conservation designed and developed by the District Administration, Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu. The district has more than 1200 water bodies, six major reservoirs, several dams (anaicuts) and water course channels which form a unique water and biodiversity ecosystem evolved over centuries. River Tamiraparani, the lifeline of Tirunelveli having its source in the Agasthiyar Biosphere Reserve is the only perennial river originating in Tamil Nadu. The river and the numerous waterbodies reflect the the people, their rich culture and heritage of the landscape.

Nellai Neervalam mission is aligned to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 6 and SDG 15 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The mission further aims to converge the existing schemes of the Government of Tamil Nadu and Government of India effectively in collaboration with technical agencies, research groups, citizen voluntary organisations and the corporate sector. We invite interested volunteers, students, and voluntary organizations to participate in the following programs.

1. Nellai Digital Water Atlas

2. Restoration and Rejuvenation of Wetlands

3. TamiraSES - RiverTamiraparani Socio-Ecological System restoration

4. Nellai Tree Mapping

5. Nellai Neervalam Dialogue Series

6. Disaster Management during Floods

Nellai Digital Water Atlas

Digital Water Atlas of Tirunelveli WaterBodies

Nellai Digital Water Atlas initiative aims at documenting and mapping all the wetlands/water bodies in the district. It shall serve as a single data repository about the water bodies including biodiversity, hydraulic parameters and encroachments if any. A rigorous field ground truthing exercise was carried out to ensure data purity of various departments. The outcomes of the initiative are as follows.

1251 waterbodies geotagged and shapefiles plotted on the GIS platform

Watershed and basin maps prepared for the district

204 Village cadastral maps digitized

204 Village contour and Digital Elevation Model (DEM) maps prepared

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Village Cadastral Map with Contour

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Nellai Water Resources


Restoration & Rejuvenation

Nellai NeerValam : Ongoing Projects

The restoration and rejuvenation of the water bodies are carried out in a participative approach involving community volunteering, school and college student clubs, civil society organizations, corporates and local governments. Regular activities such as citizen driven cleaning of water bodies, biodiversity mapping, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) partnership are undertaken.

Nellai Neervalam Wetlands Restoration Management Framework

Journey from Struggles to Success

NellaiNeervalam wetlands restoration management framework involves Six Management Plan Components that help to return the physical, chemical, or biological characteristics of the degraded wetlands to their natural functions.

Component 1
Component 2
Component 3
Component 4
Component 5
Component 6

Highlights of the Tamiraparani River

Tamiraparani is the only river in Tamilnadu that has constant stream throughout the year. The river is rich in lore and is a bio-diversity hotspot with more than 600+ species of Fishes, 50+ flora and 200+ Fauna

TamiraSES - RiverTamiraparani Socio-Ecological System restoration

Tamiraparani, the only perennial river in Tamil Nadu originates in the Pothigai Hills of Western Ghats in Tirunelveli District. The river flows through 5 landscapes or Ainthinai as described in Sangam age.

Tamiraparani river has a perennial flow regulated by Papanasam and Servalar reservoirs, which impound the flows of Tamiraparani and Servalar rivers.

Flows are regulated to meet irrigation demands and to produce hydroelec- tric power. The reservoir system in the landscape irrigates 40,000 ha of land in Tirunelveli and the neighbouring districts through eight anaicuts and 11 channels.

Tamiraparani even today evokes an emotion that binds the people, culture, and history.

Need for TamiraSES restoration

Reduced ecological flows downstream due to agriculture, domestic water consumption and industry.

Water quality degradation due to untreated domestic, agricultural, and commercial waste and inadequate waste treatment facilities

Reduced quality of life, human wellbeing and livelihoods of the dependent communities

Diversity of Tree Species

The Tirunelveli district which encompasses the Tamiraparani River, and countless wetlands and sprawls till the crest of Agasthyamalai is a place of great natural beauty. Many of the district?s heritage trees traces their association with the reign of Nayaka Queen, Mangammal and are several hundreds of years old.

Nellai Tree Mapping

Count the Trees

First of its kind intiative to map the heritage and sacred trees of Tirunelveli. The District Administration along with Tamil Nadu Forest Department and ATREE have trained volunteers to conduct tree survey and digitally map them which will serve as a repository to be included in the People?s Biodiversity Register (PBR) in accordance with the The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

Outcome: 4500 native trees mapped

Total Trees Planted: 5769

Model Nandavanams

Temple nandavanam (sacred garden) is an age-old practice of conservation of native trees and associated biodiversity. Temple nandavanams act as green fencing to the temple and would hold native traditional trees and plants that would be beneficial to the temple, as well as the community who is residing in the vicinity of the temple. Nandavanams host unique assemblages of biodiversity and act as a gene bank of traditional plant species. Nandavanams are the last existing green space on the human-dominated landscape that plays a vital role in human health and peace. Conserving these traditional nandavanams will certainly support human wellbeing and wildlife.

The district of Tirunelveli embraces hundreds of old temples on the banks of Tamiraparani and its tributaries. Many of these temples have space for nandavanam but only a few temples maintain it well. The traditional native trees are dwindling in Nandvanams and commercial tree species such as Coconut, Teak are mostly existing now.

The District Administration along with the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Board and local volunteer groups initiated the model Nandavanam project that witnessed the traditional tree species plantation in the selected temple sites. So far 3 nandavanams have been established in Thirukadugai Moondreeswarar Temple, Papakudi, Abhi Muktheeswarar Temple, Kodagnallur and Sridevi Boodevi Sametha Venkatachalapathy temple, Pallakal.

Nellai Neervalam Dialogues

Dialogue series on climate change, water, ecology and biodiversity by experts and groups who have made a difference.

Disaster Management during Floods

popular questions

During the Northeast monsoon 2021, following the heavy rainfall in catchment areas of the major dams in the Western Ghats, the Tirunelveli district witnessed heavy water inundation in several lowlying areas.

To analyze the complaints concerning rainwater inundation from the public, a Crowd-sourced flood risk map tool was introduced. More than 250 complaints were received and 90% of the complaints were resolved within 48 hours.

The Miracle Recharge

Miracle Well

When an ordinary incident in one well turns out to be an extraordinary boon for the people in and around 25 to 30 kms.

The story of the Miracle Well

Ayankulam is a small village in Radhapuram Block near Thisaiyanvillai in Tirunelveli District which comes under Muthumothanmozhi Panchayath. It is located 57 KM towards South from District head quarters Tirunelveli. The surrounding regions of Ayankulam village are identified as Dry Belt region. Due to the curse of burning Summers, the families of small land holdings were forced to disown their agricultural lands. Moreover, the trespassing saltwater from the near coast to the agricultural and domestic wells makes it worse for locals.

With all the prevailing unfavourable conditions, a miracle happened during the monsoon season of November-December 2021. An open agricultural well failed to overflow in spite of all the water it devoured from the Nambiyaru canal. With continuous inflow of water for about five days, the well still didn?t overflow. This is the reason for the well to come into the limelight as an ordinary well would have overflowed with such an inflow rate. It was also observed that there was a significant rise in the ground water table for about 10-15 km radius.

The Discovery

Miracle Well

A normal event on analysis provided astonishing results which could change the fate of the entire Taluk.

The surprise element of the Miracle Well

The outcome of the survey surprised everyone as this region has a high hydraulic conductivity. In layman terms, the water can easily pass through soil or rock. This unique feature of the geographical area of Thisayavilai taluk enables rapid water table recharge during floods.

Even the local villagers stated that they have been practicing the method of recharging the well during intense monsoon. Also claimed that this technique shoots up the local water table in a 10 to 15 km radius from the well.

The Upcoming Fabrication

Miracle Well

Making use of the discovered miracle to a larger extent.

Rapid Groundwater Recharge Technology

To make the best use of this exceptional hydro-geology, IIT-Madras proposed 'Rapid Groundwater Recharge Technology'. The numerous benefits under this proposal are : this can attenuate floods and droughts, can store the recharged water under the ground which also unlike surface water won?t evaporate, efficient way to store water during monsoons and easy withdrawal during summers, can clean and filter water. In addition to that, it can prevent and reverse saltwater intrusion in coastal aquifers. Furthermore it channels the excessive water to recharge the groundwater rather than turning into a flood or would otherwise drain into the ocean.

Experts from the IIT Chennai team mentions that the proposed technology will involve a few dozen wells with the capacity to recharge 1,50,000 to 2,00,000 litres of water every minute. Currently in Aayankulam once in 4 to 5 years the groundwater recharge is done in one well. This can be extended with an upgrade of recharging the aquifer annually during every monsoon to provide sustainable water during dry summers.


Volunteer Registeration

In order to sign up or express interest in any of our volunteer opportunities and activities, please register now with your contact details and our team will get in touch with you shortly.

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How can you Contribute

Be the part of the change

Here are some of the ways you can be a part of this wonderful project

  • 01 .

    Cleaning & Restoration

  • 02 .

    Water Ecosystem Monitoring

  • 03 .

    Education & Awareness

  • 04 .

    Nellai Tree Mapping

  • 05 .

    Tree Plantation

  • 06 .

    Sapling Donation

Press Coverage


Project Outcome

Journey from Struggles to Success

Details of significant benefits achieved through the Nellai Neervalam initiative are shared here.

Hanuman River Project

Tanks benefitted: 49
Area Covered: 36 Km long
Volunteers Registered: 89
Action taken: Desilted & Encroachments cleared

Outcome: 49 tanks overflowed after 30 years

Pettai Mullikulam

Irrigation Area: 79.07
Catchment Area: 0.26 S.Km
Volunteers Registered: 62
Action Taken: Desilted & Encroachments Cleared

Outcome: The tank is 100% full. 300 tons of waste has been removed and the entire waterbody is fully fenced and protected

Udayarpattikulam, Tirunelveli

Catchment Area: 0.312 S.Km
Volunteers Registered: 45
Action Taken: Desilted, Water Hyacinth removed and Fully Fenced.

Outcome: 450 tons of Water Hyacinths, Solid wastes are removed. Entire waterbody is completely fenced and protected to prevent further pollution

Collaborating Institutions

Given below is the list of collaborating agencies who are contributing or committed to contribute significantly to this project