Anna Hazare is one of India's most noted social activists. A
former army jeep driver and Ramon Magsaysay Award winner, Anna
is respected as the man who turned the ecology and economy of
the village of Ralegan Siddhi around. The village has become
a model of rural development through the implementation of government
schemes designed to uplift the rural poor. Thus, his name is
synonymous with rural development and people's power.
Hazare made the headlines in May 1994 by undertaking a protest
fast at the Sant Dyaneshwar temple at Alandi, Maharashtra. Earlier,
the same month, he launched the Bhrastachar Virodhi Janandolan
(People's movement against corruption), after having returned
his Padamshree (a high state honour) in April.
In 1998, he was hauled to court on a defamation suit filed by
then Maharashtra social welfare minister Babanrao Golap. After
a few days in jail, public uproar led to his release.
He is a staunch Gandhian.
His watershed management style is as follows:
- Conservation of water
- Voluntary spirit
- Social upliftment
- Women's emancipation
- Participation of youth
- Consensual politics
- Family planning
- Ban on felling of trees
- Ban on open grazing
More on Ralegan
S Anna Hazare
The people of Nagpur district, Maharashtra joined hands with
their local administration and successfully harvested 11,000
billion litres of rainwater at virtually no cost. Their initiatives
pushed away the usual water scarcity by at least three months.
September 12, 2001 arrived with a new dawn, when Ashwini
Bhide, a lady IAS officer in Nagpur's zilla parishad agreed
to implement rainwater harvesting in her area at the suggestion
of Mohan Dharia, who is working with Vanrai, a Pune-based
non-governmental organisation. Within a short span of five
days, she not only organised a training workshop for her colleagues
working at the grassroots level but also placed a system of
checks and balances to ensure that the panchayat samitis implement
the project seriously and not just on paper.
The results speak for themselves. In just 21 days, they successfully
constructed about 222 bandharas (weirs) as developed
by Vanrai. These bandharas comprise of bunding the
village nallahs with sandbags piled up in the shape
of a dam. While Vanrai deposited 80,000 sandbags for the project,
the respective gram panchayats also contributed with 60,000
bags. In this region, Kolhapuri bandharas used to be
popular, but they are not only expensive to build but also
difficult to maintain. According to Bhide, "A Kolhapuri
bandhara requires Rs 50 lakh to harvest 390 TMC of
water. Moreover, a regular state project would have taken
more than a year to take off. About 1,000 Kolhapuri weirs
exist in the district and less than 100 are functioning."
On the other hand, bandharas like those made by Vanarai
make use of the locally available sand and shram daan (voluntary
labour) by villagers, thus eliminating the money and corruption
The notable feature is that members from the state and society
worked together. Girish Gandhi, working with Vanrai, said,
"We have implemented this project in many places in Nagpur
and Pune districts. But this is the first time that the district
administration has implemented it on a large scale" -
thus, marking a new beginning
"We do not need bore wells. By spending a very small fraction
of the amount that we would have otherwise spent on digging
a well, we can catch still more water," says Bheema Bhat
Hardikar, a farmer from Anavatti, Karnataka. He speaks from
his three years of experience in rainwater harvesting that has
ensured enough water for the nursery on a part of the 25 guntas
of land that he owns.
Adike Patrika, a local magazine, introduced him to
the idea and he decided to implement it. A 700 ft stormwater
drain around the farm has been dug. Ten earthen bunds are
built at a cost of Rs 250 across the stormwater drain. An
infiltration pit near the well collects the runoff from the
drain. The excess water from the first infiltration pit flows
into the second one and then, back to the drain. He has also
constructed small trenches to divert all the runoff from the
neighbouring areas to the storm drain. All these works have
yielded good results.
Brahmin Street, Anavatti,
Shimoga DT 577 413
Tel: 0818 - 2467 110
Illiteracy, poverty, five children to look after and belonging
to a backward community have not thwarted Janaki - a woman in
her 40s - to use her innovative skills and solve the persisting
water problem in her village of Kepulakodi, about 32 kms from
To avoid a kilometre-long slippery walk down the hill during
the monsoons, she came up with the idea of using her saree
to harvest rainwater to meet her drinking water needs. First,
she firmly fixed bamboo rods to the saree to keep it stable
against heavy rains and winds. Then, its four corners were
tied to bamboo poles, giving it a funnel-like shape. Thus,
water could easily sieve into the pitcher. "Even 15 minutes
of rain is sufficient to meet cooking and drinking water needs",
said Janaki. Impressed by its user-friendly applicability,
a local non-governmental organisation, Maithri Trust, is promoting
Kunhikannan Nair looks very young for his 55 years. He carves
Nair's fields in Kodom Vellur village of Kasaragod district,
Kerala, are lush green, with coconut, areca nut, rubber and
pepper trees and a little paddy. Although plantations have
mushroomed in northern Kerala, there is not much money to
be made in the fields.
Nair recalls the sleepless nights he used to spend worrying
about water for his fields. Kerala is one of the wettest states
in India. But very little water actually gets stored due to
the slope of the Western Ghats, despite the heavy monsoons.
At 53, Nair arranged for a Rs 5,000 loan from a cooperative
bank to make his first surangam. Today, Nair doesn't
have to spend sleepless nights any more. Thanks to his surangams,
he has assured water supply for paddy. He is now able to save
a lot of money which he would otherwise have spent hiring
pump sets. The yield of coconut has risen. There is enough
water for home and fields all through the year.
An enterprising sarpanch, Popat Pawar brought water, prosperity
and respect to his village Hivare Bazar, in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra.
With the support of the village youth, Pawar transformed his
village from a 'punishment zone' to the one that got Maharashtra
its first National Productivity Award for the best watershed
work. He is an ardent follower of Anna Hazare and believes,
"The development process needs both the state and society
to work together. However, the society should always be on the
drivers' seat and work responsibly."
It all started in 1989, when the youth of the village wanted
a change. The village had about 22 liquor shops, and excessive
gambling and violence had ruined its reputation, society,
ecology and economy. The drought of 1972 had marked the beginning
of a disaster and they wanted it to end. Pawar was elected
sarpanch with popular support.
His was not an easy journey, but he never gave up. After
forming the yuva mandali (village youth group), he
concentrated on improving education standards. The village
school was locked for two months till the state assigned good
teachers. Pawar's first success, however, was also closely
followed by his first failure. The plantation work that they
had begun with was vandalised by some villagers. Henceforth,
he decided to take up works only on demand. The entire focus
shifted to building the moral base of Hivre Bazar in accordance
with the path shown by Anna Hazare.
Once the attitude of the people changed everything started
falling in place. Thanks to their diligence, in 1994 under
the joint forest management programme, afforestation works
were taken up, successfully. Today, the village boasts of
a thick forest cover, maintained by the villagers themselves.
In 1995, under Adarsh Gaon Yojana, watershed works were taken.
About 52 earthen bunds, two percolation tanks, 33 loose stone
bunds and nine check dams were built. With increased water
availability villagers have diversified without encouraging
unsustained water use practices. Even the state has acknowledged
the efforts by funding a training centre for the sarpanches.
Pawar insists on using state funds for village development.
He says, "It is our money and we want to use it for the
purpose it has been allocated". Significantly, he is taking
on the path on environmental self-reliance. He specifies, "For
the past one-year, the people have taken all the decisions themselves.
I am not even consulted, just updated". An inspiring journey,
|V Radha and Manisha
They are senior officers from the Indian Administrative Services
(IAS) posted in Aurangabad and Wardha districts of Maharashtra
respectively. Their style of functioning has ensured active
community participation in developing water supply schemes,
without spending a penny out of the state exchequer.
Initially it was very difficult for V Radha to convince the
people of Sarola village to revive their 30-year-old percolation
tank, which was running dry. Today, it is brimming with water.
It is the only village among the 700 in Aurangabad district
not to suffer from water scarcity. Things took a positive
turn when, instead of financial support, she offered farmers
to freely use the self-dug out silt from the pit. On its part,
the administration has ingeniously modified the Employment
Guarantee Scheme - allowing people do water related works
In Wardha, three schemes were already underway - Jalada,
Sampada and Vasundhara - when Mhaiskar came on deputation.
Her challenge was to consolidate and sequence the existing
schemes to make water supply sustainable, by involving the
community. The administration has ensured transparency at
every level. The state government has applauded these initiatives,
as replicable models.
Can mango and cashew plants grow successfully in a water-scarce
land, without further degrading the environment? The answer
is yes. Ravindra Shetye, a Mumbai-based ecologist has done it
successfully by harvesting and utilising rain on his 60 acre
and in Dahagaon village of Ratnagiri district, Maharashtra.
On January 29, the Ashoka foundation conferred him with Ashoka
It all started when in 1992 he decided to develop an abandoned
land in a village with no electricity or any perennial source
of irrigation. During monsoon, he conserved rain in stone-lined
tanks, constructed on various sites of the plantation with
the capacity to hold 0.2 million litres of water, ensuring
frequent water for the plants for the first three years. Today,
about 5,000 cashew and 2,000 mango trees have started giving
the initial yield. The annual capital input is Rs six lakh.
Shetye is now planning to share his gains with the entire
Socio-economic Eco Development
10, Amitchs, Whireless Road,
J B Nagar, Andheri (East)
Mumbai 400 059
Shivanajayya is a person of many talents. He is the principal
of a college, a writer, an organic farmer and a water conservationist.
He has a five-acre farm in Tumkur district, Karnataka. The
soil in this region is red. Rainfall is highly erratic - as
a result the farmers are completely dependent on bore wells.
Following the practice, in 1990, he also got a bore well dug.
The yield was good for the next four years after which it
started falling. He was forced to lower the pump from 140
to 180 feet. Yet, the situation did not improve, adversely
affecting the crops sown.
While trying to find a solution, he realised that barely
30 feet away from the bore well flowed a seasonal rivulet,
which had water till the month of January. This encouraged
him to go in for an artificial recharge technique.
A deep trench was dug from the casing pipe to the riverbed
ensuring a regular supply. Blue metal was spread around the
pipe and the trench was refilled with soil. To check the inflow
of leaves or other materials, a mesh was tied on the outer
end of the pipe. Expenditure was not more than Rs 1,000, and
the results are worth noting. The output has doubled and the
bore well runs for more than six months a year.
Kadalivana, J C Pura,
Tumkur DT 572 214
Prominent water warrior and founder of paani panchayat, Vilasrao
Salunke, passed away on April 23 2001 following a heart attack.
At the time of his death, he was 65. Salunke has been closely
associated with CSE. He initiated a system of equitable distribution
of water through a people's council. In this system, the number
of family heads with no land holdings decides the water distribution.
He is widely recognised for his zealous effort to promote community-based
management. His works were acknowledged and honoured with the
Jamnalal Bajaj Award in 1985, and the Stockholm Award in 1986.
Gram Gaurav Pratisthan
113 St Patriks town,Cooperative Society
Popularly known as the 'rain man of Canara Coast', Shree
Padre has used his journalistic skills to create a strong
farmer network throughout western Karnataka and north Kerala.
It all started with Adike Patrika, a monthly newsletter
launched in 1988 to give farmers a voice. Several 'writing
workshops' were conducted for the interested farmers. He encouraged
them to share their problems and solutions through the newsletter.
Padre has also come up with the idea of 'Samruddhi', a group
giving voice to those farmers who can neither read nor write.
Once a month, the group organises a meet, where farmers just
discuss various issues and then the dialogue is edited and
published in the Patrika. In 1995, Adike Patrika
started a series on the various ways in which people conserve
water. "I constantly stumble upon a farmer or a householder
who has devised a novel method. They are often simple but
suited to the situation", says Padre. Recently, he has
started sharing these stories with the CSE newsletter Catch
Water as well, widening the network.
Avinger via Perla 671 552
T R Sureshchandra
"When knowledge is combined with careful observation, solutions
are bound to be found," says T R Sureshchandra, an arecanut
farmer from Kalmadka, Karnataka. This is the way he solved his
water related problems.
It all started in 1999, when he dug a 205 feet deep bore
well as a supplementary source of irrigation. He used 15 sprinklers.
The yield was good. However, to his dismay a year later the
yield started dropping. A thorough examination revealed that
on the side of this bore was a rainwater harvesting tank and
in monsoon the excess runoff used to overflow touching the
casing pipe - yet there were no signs of significant natural
Suresh, a regular reader of Adike Patrika, a local
farm magazine, had some idea about artificial recharge. He
started feeding the dry well by siphoning water from the tank
during the monsoons. Positive results encouraged him to revive
another farm pond to ensure sustained irrigation supply.