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Harnath Jagawat
Jagawat heads an NGO working in the field of natural resource management. He and his team work on the development and regeneration of local natural resources through participatory management. The focus is on land and water as the entry point before going on to integrate these with other resource management activities. They work in the tribal areas of western India, mainly in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, covering over 350 villages and 77,000 rural/ tribal families. Through their work they have demonstrated the importance of water harvesting for the development of rural tribal areas as well as its role in combating drought. During the drought of 1999-2000, these villages were part of the success stories covered in many national and international media reports of those who had withstood the test of managing on stored water. Through community participation, the organisation has endeavoured to develop and expand environmentally, technically and socially viable interventions leading to poverty alleviation. Empowering women and other disadvantaged groups to ensure equitable and sustainable development is one of their goals.

For details:
Harnath Jagawat
NM Sadguru Water and Development Foundation
PB No. 71
Dahod 389151
Ph: (02673)222030, 231350

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Laxman Singh
A simple enthusiastic native of village Laporiya, Jaipur, Laxman Singh, has revived village's ecosystem by adopting a sustainable water management approach. Popularly known as the chauka (dykes) system. This unique method involves rectangular plots of land that store rainwater in dyked pastures. Even at the height of summer, when the grass all but dies out, the roots can be seen lying down dormant and binding the soil while also retaining the soil moisture. Following a scientific approach, the excessive runoff from chauka flows to a seasonal river. Further, a six kilometre long channel brings water to the three tanks - Anna Sagar, Dev Sagar, and Phool Sagar are built in a series.

In early 1980s, he travelled and experienced the conservation practices from different parts of India, enriching and strengthening this well known innovation. Working with water since 1978, Laxman Singh and the other residents formed Gram Vikas Navyuvak Mandal Laporiya (GVNML). It has renovated and constructed village tanks with people participation. For past several years, the region has been ravaged by severe drought but a visit to this village belies this reality.
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K G Vyas
Working as a geophysicist at different levels, Vyas has given a well-researched analysis guiding the state's policy decisions in favour of promoting rainwater harvesting. Later, he also advised the government on technical aspects of the Rajiv Gandhi Watershed Development Mission. Although he retired in 1998, the government continued to seek his services till 2001. Very few know that he has been a reputed academician with a decade of teaching experience. Vyas has also written two books on the subject - Economic Geology (1973) and Applied Aspects of Dug Well Hydraulics (1993).

For details:

7, New Adarsh Nagar Colony,
Jabalpur 482 004
Madhya Pradesh
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Manna Singh
Manna Singh, a farmer, is the chairman of Sitapur project in Madhya Pradesh. Couple of years back, 46-year-old Singh was sent as a district representative to Anna Hazare for getting trained. In the year 1996, Union ministry of rural development supported the Sitapur project with a financial aid of Rs 12 lakh. The work started in 1997 and is expected to be completed soon. In the rainy season, the hills called Bhilai hills used to carry sand and silt and make the field unfit for cultivation. So far, 32 check dams have been constructed at a cost of Rs 41,000 and the Raksamada dam at a cost of Rs 93,000. As a result of this, the land has become cultivable. Moreover, he is actively pursuing afforestation of the region near the Son river so that the cultivation of the nearby villages located in the lower landscape do not suffer from the sand and silt which flows towards it and washes away the fertile soil.

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Rakesh Trivedi
Indore, Madhya Pradesh

Rakesh Trivedi (50) is a multi-faceted personality. A professor of zoology, director of the eco-estate faculty of the Centre for Environmental Protection, Research and Development in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, and a contributor for Nai Duniya, a Hindi daily. His obsession with trees has also earned him the title 'Tree Man of Indore'. So far, he has planted 6,000 trees in the city alone. But that's not enough. He believes he has to plant many more trees, God and 'people willing'.
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Ramkaran Bhadhana
An unassuming villager of Laporiya in Jaipur, Rajasthan, who is ardently involved in the sustainable development and management of water resources. Bhadhana is known in his village for his selfless work. He has always tried to combine conservation practices with spiritualism. Explaining his unflinching faith, Bhadhana said, "The last time we had good rains was in 1997. But we will survive this drought as well. By god's grace we have water". Though the region is ravaged with drought, Laporiya gathered in December 2002 to celebrate 'Dev Uthni Gyaras', a Hindu way for thanking the bountiful nature. They also performed pooja at three village water tanks that are completely dry. One cannot help asking what are the villagers grateful for? "These are the reason why there is water in our wells. We collect whatever little rain we get. Without these, Laporiya would have been history", shared Bhadhana. About 189 families of Laporiya, like most of the other villagers of Rajasthan, are facing the worst spell of drought but what sets them apart is the unflinching faith in their water and soil conservation works.

For details:

Ram Karan Bhadhana
Laporiya, P O Gugardu,
Jaipur 303 008
Tel: 01428-224486

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R K Gupta
He is the district collector of Khandwa district in Madhya Pradesh, who is actively involved in not only creating awareness on water conservation and its management but working towards making it a reality as well. R K Gupta is a man with multiple facets. He is an engineer and an IPS (Indian Police Service) officer with profound interest in agricultural research. His calculations show that "Even with 50 per cent of annual rainfall, it is possible to avert drought". The rainfall in Khandwa, for the past three to four years has been 30 to 40 per cent less than usual. In spite of this people here, have remarkable achievements to highlight like, no drinking water problem, no fodder shortage, soil erosion has reduced by 90 per cent, per capita income has increased two-fold, and almost this entire area is under rabi cultivation. The chief executive officer, zilla panchayat, R K Gupta, and his team has innovatively redesigned the existing strategy for the works done under Pani Roko Abhiyan (PRA), a community-based rainwater harvesting program of the MP government, that has resulted in this transformation.

Gupta's 'total water management strategy' entails that "Rainwater should not walk, it should crawl and creep", that is after every ten meters (m), and earthen structures are constructed to store and percolate the runoff. Even five to seven centimetres (cm) of rainfall does not go waste. "After completing the water budget (a detailed assessment of the demand and supply of the water) of the district, it became evident that 90 per cent of the water is used for cultivation - and, most of it is groundwater. Thus, this source needs to be replenished", emphasised Gupta.

The size and kind of the structures is determined by the cost of water that they store. All the structures like, earthen checks, kundis, bunds, bori bandhans, Khandwa hydraulic structures have been redesigned to meet the local requirements.

The program does not attract people with entry point activities (like construction of road or temple) unlike the other watershed programs. "In 2001, we started with the technical training of 14,000 villagers, with the hope that at least 1,000 of them will actually implement - and, it happened. In one village, a villager diverted the access water used in animal shed to the dried bore well. After 15 days, he found out that a dry hand pump about 100 m has started yielding. The villager realised the importance of rainwater harvesting. And, we just shared such experiences to motivate others", shared Gupta.

Following are some of the experiences from Khandwa.

  • It took some time for the people of Dhanta village to understand the concept. Initially, with the cooperation of the few villagers, nallah (drain) recharge work was undertaken. The entire catchment area was treated with total water management technique. Three months after the monsoon, the water table in the pond at the tail end of the nallah started increasing. This incident changed the attitude of the villagers. As a result, "The wells that used to dry up in summers even after normal rains now have adequate water. It just takes four hours for the well to recharge after eight hours of extraction", happily shared a villager.
  • The villagers of Dhotakheda collectively constructed a kuccha bandh on a seasonal nallah - Chotapchaad. With this structure not only their annual water problem was solved, but they had enough water to share it with nearby villages.
  • Jeevan Singh Pawar, a resident of Attubhikari village, about 16 km from the district headquarters, recharged a nearby well by diverting the leaking water from the air valve of the irrigation pipeline. With the result, the well that used to dry up in the month of January had water at ten feet - enough water to irrigate the rabi crop.
These stories clearly indicate the strength of rainwater harvesting systems in effectively dealing with drought. "We are at the take off stage, as now people start the works and then approach us for financial assistance. This is our achievement," says Gupta.

For details:

Chief executive officer
Zilla Panchayat
Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 0733 - 23264

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