Mangaluru, Jan 26, 2022: Progressive farmer Amai Mahalinga Naika who is popularly known as Tunnel Man for his stupendous efforts in irrigating a barren hilly area and managing to single-handedly construct as many as seven tunnels has been chosen for the coveted Padma Shri Award.
Naika who is now 76, was once an expert in climbing coconut and arecanut trees. In 1978, he had secured two acres of land by way of ‘Darkhastu.’ It was then a challenging task to irrigate this land. Still an unrelenting Naika had levelled a small piece of land to construct a small house for himself. Naika who relied on water from neighbours for drinking purposes had no money to dig a well. The possibility of getting water even if a well was dug was remote. It was then that the idea of drilling a tunnel came to him. He set out on the mission with an unwavering determination. He worked as a labourer for half a day and spent the rest of the time in drilling the tunnel with his own efforts and one after the other managed to have seven tunnels.
Thus with ample water resources, he managed to grow arecanut, coconut, plantain and pepper. He has developed a forest in another one acre. He has also adopted rain water harvesting through percolation pits. Naika who never availed any loan has done everything with the help of his agricultural income. Door Darshan had also telecast a programme “Water Warrior” based on his life. In 2019 Mangalore Press Club had presented him the Man of the Year Award.