Karnataka’s 85-year-old pond digger recovers from Covid

Karnataka’s octogenarian farmer Kamegowda, whom Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised in his ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio programme for digging 16 ponds around his village to conserve water in Karnataka’s Mandya district, recovered from Covid after 14 days of treatment at a state-run hospital here.

“Kamegowda, 85, is relieved to be out of hospital and happy to be back home at his village (Dasandoddi). The district administration gave him a royal farewell with a music band after he was discharged on Monday evening,” his associate K. Shivappa from nearby Malavalli town told IANS on phone.

Mandya is about 100 km southwest of Bengaluru in the southern state on way to Mysuru.

Though Kamegowda was reluctant to get admitted to the district hospital after he tested Covid positive at home on July 21, as he is against Allopathic medicines and his right leg was injured, he relented when an ambulance was rushed to ferry him to Mandya from his village.

“Kamegowda had to be cajoled and convinced that his family members too will get infected if he stayed at home and hence should shift to the hospital for treatment on July 22,” Shivappa recalled.

With his ecological feat drawing Modi’s attention and the media carrying his achievement across the country, Kamegowda received special care and a paramedic was deputed to look after him, as he was unable to walk to toilet or eat properly as he can’t digest solid food in old age.

“Doctors, his son Krishna and nurses made him take gruel (ganji) and fruits to restore his health. He responded well to the Covid treatment to recover from the infection in two weeks,” Shivappa pointed out.

When Kamegowda reached home, the village folk cheered and honoured him for staging a remarkable recovery at his age from the dreaded disease.

Mandya Deputy Commissioner M.V. Venkatesh joined the hospital staff, including district health officer H.P. Manchegowda, hospital superintendent G. Sivakumar and Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences Principal K.M. Shivakumar in sending off Kamegowda to home after discharge.

“It is a joy to see Kamegowda being discharged from the hospital on recovering completely from corona virus. Special thanks to the hospital staff,” said Venkatesh on the occasion.

In his monthly radio programme “Mann ki baat” on June 28, Modi said with the onset of the southwest monsoon in many parts of the country, the people should practice rain-water harvesting to protect environment, as Kamegowda was doing in Karnataka even though he was over 80 years old.

“Kamegowda has dug 16 ponds through his hard work. He is a simple farmer, but his personality is extraordinary. The work done by him sets him apart from others. At his age, Kamegowda takes cattle for grazing and has dug ponds in his village. When asked about his feat, he said as there was water shortage in his area, he was digging more ponds to conserve water for the people,” said Modi in his nationwide address.

Though ponds dug by Kamegowda may not be big, his efforts were huge, Modi had said.

“Kamegowda is an inspiration for the people in the country, as he has been forming water bodies over 4 decades, which have turned the Kundinibetta hillock green and provided water for drinking and farming,” an official said then.

The state government honoured Kamegowda with the Rajyotsava award in 2019 in recognition of his yeomen community service.