When Alag Natarajan returned to India after spending almost 30 years in London, he planned to do something for society. So he looked around and realised that people who spend their majority of time on roads like labourers, rickshaw pullers and security guards don’t even get water to drink.
And then this 69-year old South Delhi resident started installing water coolers around his locality. Initially, he installed 10 coolers at different locations, starting from his own house in Panchsheel Park. But soon, he realised that nobody wanted to fill water in those coolers. Getting an electric connection to run the water cooler was another issue.
“It has been four years now including the cooler maybe five years. When I started, I installed 10 coolers in different parts of Delhi but half of them I have to bring back because people had no respect for it. Each cooler cost me Rs 25000.”
The disappointed Natarajan, however, didn’t lose hope. He then decided to switch to matkas (earthen pots). He placed around 80 matkas in different areas including Green Park, SDA Market, GK 1, Chirag Delhi and Panchsheel Park. Every day at 4 am, he takes out his water van and fills all the matkas.
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But he is not doing all this for money. “I usually don’t get support but occasionally, they give monetary help. One of the residents gave me Rs 2000, but I don’t go asking for money.” He further revealed about his funding, “My money comes from the pension from London, I have investments and my family supports me. One matka costs Rs 350 and water I get free, it’s borewell water.”
Besides filling matkas, he also prepares breakfast for security guards, labourers, and drivers. “Sometimes people eat just Mathri for lunch because they don’t have money. So now I do cucumber and lassi. I have just started bananas because it’s healthy, said the ‘Matka Man’.
He has now also started serving breakfast. Alag Natarajan wants to do this regularly but right now he is only serving idlis and chutney twice a week. “I started serving breakfast just two weeks back and currently, I am just distributing 300 idlis. If I buy them, they will cost me around Rs 1200, so now I am making them here itself. This has brought the cost down to Rs 300 to Rs 400.”
This is not all. Alak Natarajan is also planning on doing other things to help poor people. He has also installed self-help cycle pumps in different areas to motive cyclists.