Tatsat Chronicle Magazine

Karnataka Farmer, Who Dug Tunnels to Water His Barren Land, Wins Padma Shri

Today, the lush farm of Amai Mahalinga Naik Aka, 77, has areca nut, coconut and banana trees, and pepper vines and cocoa
January 27, 2022

Amai Mahalinga Naik Aka, a 77-year-old famer from Karnataka, who transformed barren land into an organic tree farm, is chosen for India’s fourth-highest civilian award, Padma Shri. The government had announced the list of Padma awardees on January 25.

The “single man army,” as referred by Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in a tweet, Naik performed everything himself, as hiring others to excavate would have been too expensive.

http://<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>What a life, what an achievement. <br><br>Karnataka&#39;s &#39;single man army&#39; Amai Mahalinga Naik, who has been conferred with the Padma Shri Award.<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/PadmaAwards?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#PadmaAwards</a> <a href=”https://t.co/w3AinMaq9y”>pic.twitter.com/w3AinMaq9y</a></p>&mdash; Gajendra Singh Shekhawat (@gssjodhpur) <a href=”https://twitter.com/gssjodhpur/status/1486016536334970883?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 25, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Naik tirelessly dug tunnels to irrigate barren land in Karnataka’s Kepu village. The tunnels were dug deep into hard laterite rocks to find groundwater, and through which water could run constantly in a little stream with no need of a pump. Naik could only find success after digging five tunnels of depth of about 30 metres to 50 metres. He found water in his sixth effort, when the tunnel was dug 315 feet long. After making the arrangement of water to his land, he dug the seventh tunnel behind his house to find water for drinking and domestic purposes. Over the years, the perennial water supply has led to healthy areca nut, coconut and banana trees, and pepper vines and cocoa on his land, say reports.

The practice of digging tunnels all by himself has earned Amai Mahalinga Naik Aka the title of Suranga or Tunnel Man. With his perseverance and optimism, the farmer has built a man-made farm that is run by sustainable agricultural methods.