Enhancing public understanding
is wealth. Rain is the primary source of all water. If we catch rainwater where it falls,
water scarcity can be avoided. Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a New Delhi-based
non-governmental organisation (NGO) is consistently promoting this message to make
rainwater harvesting a national mass-based movement. As part of their advocacy programme,
they recently released an edited
This book supplements CSEs earlier publication titled, Dying Wisdom: Rise, Fall and Potential of Indias Traditional Water Harvesting Systems. It has over 90 papers, which document peoples traditions, practices and initiatives on community-based water harvesting from across the country as well as from Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Southeast Asia, Japan and Germany. The focus of these writings is on documenting peoples initiatives in harvesting and conserving rainwater, through community-led management systems. These systems provide us with solutions that are effective, cheap and easy to maintain.
On July 10, 2001, the book was released in a one-day workshop on rainwater harvesting, held at Rajasthan College of Agriculture, Udaipur. Balwant Singh Mehta, a 102 year old freedom fighter, social activist, member of the first parliament of India and former minister of Rajasthan released the book. The function was jointly organised by CSE and Udaipur-based NGOs namely, Jheel Sanrakshan Samiti (JSS) and Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal (BLKM). Anil Agarwal, chairperson CSE, in his inaugural address laid emphasis on the following issues:
Both rural and urban areas could become self-reliant in meeting their water-related needs by reviving their indigenous rainwater systems. He informed that about 15,000 villages, which are mostly located in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have gained self-reliance in meeting their minimum water needs, by using only about one to two hectares of their land for rainwater harvesting.
Their is an urgent need to improve peoples knowledge on how to sustainably utilise the benefits of rainwater harvesting and conservation.
While emphasising on the need to evolve a partnership between the state and society, he commended the initiatives taken by the government of Madhya Pradesh.
He said that as long as large-scale irrigation projects were not supplemented with community-built rainwater harvesting structures in the villages, their development should not be opposed.
While recollecting his childhood memories, O P Saini, irrigation commissioner, Udaipur observed that the trend of overextraction of groundwater began with the arrival of electricity and private tubewells in his village. He gave hope to the participants by saying that these mistakes are being recognised and efforts are being made to rectify them. In the past one year, about 50 per cent of the works, implemented by his department in the area were to improve the groundwater table.
The workshop also included a two-hour training session on urban and rural rainwater harvesting techniques. The members of Udaipurs jal biradari passed a resolution, opposing the state governments order to demolish the johad in Lava ka Baas village, Alwar district, Rajasthan. The workshop concluded with a presentation of the puppet show and folk-play on rainwater conservation.
Speaking on the occasion the CSE staffer informed about the book and how Chennai and Tamil Nadu serve as models to be followed for adopting rainwater harvesting. The Rotary Governor informed about the efforts of the Rotary Club in creating awareness on rainwater harvesting. The club is also cleaning several tanks in the city.
This book release function has been able to meet its objectives. As Jeyakumar informs, My phone has not stopped ringing after the workshop. I am getting a whole lot of requests for implementing rainwater harvesting.
On July 31, 2001, M S Swaminathan, an eminent agriculturist, released the book in a seminar organised by CSE and Sakal publications in Pune, which was attended by people from all over Maharashtra. The 1,500 capacity hall was fully packed. Speaking on the occasion, Swaminathan suggested that Landless labourers and unemployed people could be employed for water conservation works, undertaken as the employment guarantee scheme. The excess 65 million tonnes of countrys foodgrain stock could be distributed as part of their payment. This would ensure no one goes without food, while creating unique water banks, in the country. Rainwater harvesting can significantly reduce poverty. Sunita Narain, director CSE, supported his argument. She said, About 28 per cent of once starving families at Ralegan Siddhi in Parner taluka have been able to raise their monthly income to Rs 40,000 after Anna Hazare undertook watershed development projects here. Popatrao Pawar, who was instrumental in transforming his village, Hivare Bazar, supported this viewpoint, Six years down the line the focus on water prosperity has changed the face of the average villager. Our annual turnover is more than Rs five crore today from what we produce, and, where we had drought earlier, we now have water. IWWA also released a booklet, Vision and framework 2025 on the occasion.
While releasing the book, Jacob cautioned the audience about the looming water crisis. Sharing CSEs viewpoint he said, Water is life and to address the issue effectively we have to harvest rainwater, use it for recharge and recycle too. The governor shared examples of effective rainwater harvesting initiatives in rural and urban India. He emphasised the need to replicate such interventions in order to combat the growing threat.
The CSE staffer shared the history and objectives of CSEs water campaign. The case studies from the book were referred to highlight the accomplishments of rainwater harvesting in rural and urban areas. According to the CSE staffer, The book adopts a comprehensive approach of disseminating information with regard to rural, urban and the states initiative in water management.CSEs message is simple: water is available and just needs to be tapped, not by academicians or engineers, but by the local community, irrespective of where they reside or what they do. These functions are strengthening the peoples understanding, resolve and efforts to sustainably conserve rainwater.
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