Anna Hazare is one of India's most noted social activists. A former army jeep driver and Ramon Magsaysay Award winner, Anna is well known and 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 for the upliftment of the rural poor. His name is synonymous with rural development and people's power.
Hazare hit the headlines in May 1994 when he undertook 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 Padmashree 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, he was released following a public uproar.
His watershed management style is as follows:
A Gandhian and an environmental activist, Anupam Mishra is among the most knowledgeable persons in India on traditional water harvesting systems. He has travelled to various part of the country, especially Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, visiting various water harvesting systems managed by people. He has also interacted with grassroot-level water harvesters, inspired and supported them and helped them in their traditional water harvesting systems campaign. He has written two books on traditional tank management in India and various traditional water harvesting systems in Rajasthan titled Aaj bhi khare hai talab and Rajasthan ki rajat boonde. Mishra continues to travel to different parts of the country, while keeping in touch with grassroot-level water harvesters and NGOs and inspiring them. The mission of the Gandhi Peace Foundation is to promote the environmental activities of rural development agencies; to prepare survey reports on distressed areas and place them before concerned authorities; to disseminate environmental information through the publication of up-to-date reports on environmental issues; to organise workshops and seminars for environmental experts, policy makers, individuals and organisations engaged in environmental issues.
Professor Vaidyanathan is an eminent agricultural scientist, whose area of specialisation is management of tanks. He led the study conducted by the Madras Institute of Development Studies, that has made a case for the renovation of tanks, traditionally
"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.
Bhupal Singh from Nahi Kalan, Raipur, Uttranchal, not only mobilised his village to fight for a ban on limestone mining but also in sustaining a campaign to protect its forest and water as well. Since 1980s, the village has not faced any water-related problems. There was a steady depletion in the groundwater table due to limestone mining. The impact was reflected on the forests as well. The seasonal river Bidalna was often running dry. But as villagers were getting work, few complained. It all started when the young people protested. But the mining contractor stonewalled their queries. He was just interested in his profits. So, the villagers decided to fight for their land and rights. The support from Sunderlal Bhaugana and Chipko Andolan was encouraging. The Supreme Court order in the late 1980s banned all mining activities in the entire region.
The issues were taken up on a priority basis. Protection of forests is essential. The region receives about 3,500 to 4,000 mm of rain annually. The terrain is characterised by steep slopes. Dense forests are a pre-requisite for effective development of water resources. Due to these works, the overall soil moisture and vegetative cover got enhanced. Singh mobilised villagers to desilt four ponds and constructed three on the flat sloping hilltops. For more works, money was needed and it was not available. However, due to lack of basic infrastructure like roads, people are migrating.
Chewang Norphel, 62, of Leh, Ladakh, makes zings and artificial glaciers.
In Ladakh, the annual average rainfall is 50 mm. The only source of water are glaciers, which melt in summer. This water reaches the villages late in the season. The locals manage this water carefully and store it for the year.
In 1996, a year after retirement, Norphel joined the Leh Nutrition Project, a non-governmental organisation, as project manager for watershed development.
Elur vill, (Coimbatore) Tamil Nadu
E R R Sadasivam is the owner of a 'tree museum' in Elur village in Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu. Spread over 30 ha, the museum houses over 100 species of trees and also hyenas, wild cats, jackals and peacocks. When he inherited this property in 1950, it was just a barren patch of land. It was his hard work, with the assistance of the villagers, that transformed it into what it is today. 112 villages are now enjoying the benefits of this hard work, with all the barren land being converted to woodlands, and that too, without any financial assistance. For Sadasivam, profit is not the driving force. According to him, happiness lies in making people understand the value of trees. To his peers, he is a 'national asset', and rightly so.
Jadeja, the former head (sarpanch) of the village council of Raj-Samadhiyala village in Rajkot, transformed the socio-economic status of his village by implementing water harvesting projects. He is now the taluka pradhan, looking after 93 villages. A post-graduate in English Literature, he had organised the people in his village to take up 12 watershed management projects. He also initiated the drive to plant trees. Today the village is one of the most prosperous in the area boasting over 3 crores in earnings and cultivating two crops despite the drought situation. The once-water starved village no longer faces drinking water scarcity thanks to his efforts. For details:
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.
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.
General Secretary of Thar Integrated Social Development Society, a Jaisalmer based non-governmental organisation is a committed environmentalist. He has been involved in awareness generation, implementation of the traditional water harvesting practices and dissemination of traditional technical wisdom in the region. He has revived systems like Nadis (village ponds), Paar and Tankas in the villages along with the villagers. Bhatti has also worked extensively in reviving and developing the orans (sacred grooves) in Jaisalmer district. Bhatti developed his skills got motivation to carry forward the work while working with Magha Ram Suthar - a barefoot engineer. At present he is highly committed towards developing a region specific drought-proofing model for Jaisalmer district.
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).
A concerned villager, he mobilised his village Kursala in Kalahandi, Orissa, to overcome its persistant water shortage. The result is evident. The village, which used to face a drinking water scarcity in the month of January, now has adequate water for irrigation even in May and June. Dawn arrived in Kursala in the early 1990s, when, appalled with the depleting water status and growing poverty and migration, an educated villager Komal Lochan Jani decided to take action. He knew the groundwater levels would improve only if rainwater is used for recharging. Jani has also heard that a good vegetative cover (including grasses and forests) facilitates the recharge process as this cover acts as a filtering medium. Thus, he started by mobilising the youth to work for the conservation of forests that were vanishing. Gradually, the people of Kursala took up his concern and initiative, and they worked together. Intensive plantation work (including fruit-bearing trees) was taken up. About 50 small ponds were built and sustainable water management practices were sacredly adopted. Kursala has not only broken the cycle of irregular rains, drought and migration but have recently handed over 492 acres of forest back to the state as well.
Concerned over the water level in the region of Saurashtra, which had receeded from 15 m in 1990 to 120-210 metres in 1998, Mansukh Bhai Suvagia, a 37-year-old government servant decided to initiate steps to tackle the problem. With the help of villagers, he launched a Lok Fund scheme and collected more than Rs 1 lakh to build 17 check dams in the area. "These are the cheapest check dams in the whole country," says Suvagia.
Well-planned locations and building according to the requirements were the two main reasons for the low cost of construction. Cost was further reduced as the villagers built the dams themselves.
Suvagia's wife Rasila helped him out in his work by mobilising the village women to get involved in the building of the dams. Four dams have been built in the area with the help of local women.
At present, in over 100 villages of the Saurashtra region, money is being raised to build dams. The amount of money collected ranges from Rs 1-5 lakh. Jamka village in Junagadh district is successfully carrying out the work of building check dams. The village is 1,011.7 hectares in area with a population of 3,000 and the area under cultivation is 809.4 hectares. Even though the area has one river and four rivulets, the water supply is inadequate. Moreover, with 1,200 bore wells the water level has gone down to 200 metres in the last 15 years. The villagers started constructing the dams in 1999 and so far, 51 check dams and two ponds have been built to harvest water. As a result, the water situation has improved and the farmers are able to cultivate kharif and rabi crops even during drought conditions. Mansukhbhai projects the profit as around Rs 3 crore in the years of good rainfall. This includes money from agriculture, livestock and trees used for afforestation. "It puts the government in a very bad light," says Suvagia. He is all set to spread the message to the rest of Saurashtra and has already created awareness in about 500 villages. He feels that CSE is doing a good job of spreading the message of self- help to other parts of the country.
Kesharpur village, (Nayagarh) Orissa
Narayan Hazary is an ardent believer of the Panchayati Raj system. He advocates the concept of ‘village democracy’ in Kesharpur village. The list of his achievements is endless: He started a village-level school in 1954; he set up the Despran Madhusadan Library in 1957; he established Pragati Shishu Sangh, a children’s organisation; and from 1972 he spearheaded the Buddhagram Environmental Movement (BEM) to regenerate the forests. BEM was aimed at regenerating the green cover of the barren Binjagiri forest and Malati hills. The forest and the hill are finally regaining their cover. Meanwhile, Hazary teaches political science in Nagaland but remains the guiding force behind all activities in Kesharpur village.
Wokha district, Nagaland
Obensao Kikon comes from Wokha district in Nagaland. An ‘ardent jungle burner’ at one time, his stint as the chairperson of the Market Federation of Nagaland changed his outlook, and there has been no looking back ever since. His 615-ha land in Wokha is full of teak and bamboo trees. He encourages plantation of short-rotation species to help the local people meet their fuelwood demands. Besides, he also heads the Kimpvur Valley Multipurpose Cooperative Project Society comprising three villages. What is his aim in life? To enhance the living standards of the poor, he says.
District collector of Khandwa district in Madhya Pradesh, R K Gupta is actively involved in not only creating awareness on water conservation and its management but working towards making it a reality as well. He 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, there has been 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. 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 the creation of earthen structures to store and percolate the runoff rainwater. Even five to seven 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.
"In 2001, we started 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", said Gupta.
Some experiences from Khandwa.
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.
Though he has lost the political authority over the people of Thar, who once used to be his subjects, Maharaja Gaj Singh continues to work for their well-being. This 38th Rathore Chief of Marwar, lovingly known as Bapji, is actively involved in popularising community-based water harvesting practices in the Thar region. Concerned with the growing water crisis, he teamed up with Rajendra Singh, the secretary of the Alwar-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) Tarun Bharat Sangh, to organise Jal Chetna Yatras and sammelans to spread the message. His ability to relate to the villagers in their own language, and addressing their livelihood concerns has earned him creditability and support of the people of Pali, Barmer and Jalore districts of western Rajasthan. Due to his concerted efforts he has also generated interest among the other sardars of the former princely states of Jodhpur, Nagaur, Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jalore, Sirohi and Pali to take up similar activities.
Working as a catalyst, the Maharaja is motivating locals to get involved and work for a better (and wetter) future instead of relying on state handouts. In return, he has received complete cooperation from the people. While expressing his gratitude, Bapji said, "In the present context maharajas no longer have wealth. I am lucky to have invaluable wealth in the form of your support and dedication to mitigate this perpetual problem." A royal water crusader, indeed.
On October 2, 1985, five young men got off a bus at Kishori village in Thanagazi block of the district of Alwar, Rajasthan. They were from the Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS), a voluntary organisation set up in 1975. Among them was Rajendra Singh, the secretary of TBS. Rajendra Singh spearheaded the movement for the regeneration of the area. Always an activist, he had fought against illegal quarrying in the Sariska Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan. No engineers were called. They were guided by traditional wisdom. Mangu Lal Patel, an old man from nearby village Gopalpura told them, "Do not talk too much; dig tanks and build . You will get results."
This year, on July 30, 2001 Rajendra Singh was conferred the Magsaysay award for community leadership. When the news reached him, he was touring Sikar, Rajasthan to do what he does best - mobilize communities to manage their water resources. On receiving the award, Singh said, "The social technique adopted by the people and TBS has been recognised with the achievement of this award. The award is for the people."
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'.
Ranjit Kumar Pattnaik is a household name In Angul district of Orissa. In 1988. he went on a padyatra across 600 villages In Angul to raise awareness about the Importance of natural resources. Pattnaik established the Youth Association for Rural Reconstruction. Initially aimed at fighting against pollution of the Brahmani river by Industries. Pattnaik has also been Instrumental In forming village organisations to save forests and sanctuaries In the state.
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 Award'. 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 Konkan region.
Jagrut Goenkaranchi Fauz, Goa
Roland Martins is the driving force behind Jagrut Goenkaranchi Fauz. perhaps Goa's most effective grassroots organisation. He has led many protests against unsustainable tourism projects. One of his notable campaigns has been against the government's plan to freeze a 75-80-km stretch of coastal Goa for 19 luxury hotels. The plan was eventually scrapped. Then there was Operation Cold Turkey against drug traffickers and Operation Blockalds to spread awareness about aids. Despite many successes. Martins remains a foot soldier. literally for he uses public transport and figuratively for his perusal of the mission.
Ufrakhal, Paudi Garhwal located in the midst of Chamoli and Almora was known as the backward area in the region. However, as Sachidanand Bharti entered the scene, transformation set in. He started mobilising the entire village, especially the women, to work for forest conservation. Bharti and his village-based organisation Dadhutoli Lok Vikas Sansthan started receiving support as locals started understanding the need to treat and develop water, land and forest in an integrated manner to achieve sustainable results. Bharti guided villagers to take up afforestation work. Initial failure such as dying saplings instigated him to find a solution. After a number of discussions with the villagers, it was decided to dig small pits near the newly planted saplings - so, that when it rains these pits collect enough water. The idea worked. By the year 1990-91, the village could boast of one of the thickest forests in the region. Today, this forest is covered with trees like Baas, Kaafal, Amaat, Chir, Awala among many other species.
Bharti's path has been illuminated by the guidance of Anupam Mishra and various community-based water harvesting initiatives going on in different parts of the country. With the support of the villagers, he started digging a series of 1,500 small pits (locally called Jal Tarais) in the forests of Gaadkhark. The impact was immediate and evidently inspiring. Today, a number a small nallahs (drains) have become perennial, which culminate into a big nallah known as Gaadganga.
Sachidanand Bharti is a media-shy person, who is working selflessly for the community and the nature. The works are carried without any external financial assistance. By simply mobilising what the community has to or is willing to offer. Bharti has motivated the locals to deliver the message of conservation and prosperity.
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.
Shamjibhai Jadavbhai Antala has many names - Pied Piper of Saurashtra. rainmaker. one-man army and messiah. He has accomplished the impossible in a land with a history of severe water scarcity, hostile climate and rocky topography. He has ensured that the fields remain green by teaching people the importance of rainwater harvesting. He propogated the concept of well recharging amongst the rural masses in Gujarat. He is a member of the Gujarat Ecology Commission, State Watershed Mission Advisory Committee(Govt. of Orissa) and Rajiv Gandhi Watershed Mission (Govt. of MP).
Popularly known as the 'Rainman of Canara Coast', Shree Padre has used his journalistic skills to create a strong farmer network throughout western Karnataka and north Kerala.
Apart from writing a weekly RWH column in the leading Kannada daily, Vijaya Karnataka, he has so far conducted more than 350 RWH slide-shows in the nooks and corners of southern Karnataka and northern Kerala. Taking information/inspiration from his writings hundreds of farmers have got success in RWH without govt subsidy and with a very low cost. Shree emphasises in-situ methods and gives importance to traditional methods as well. His persistent efforts to popularise RWH has yielded fruits. Today there are many new-comers who are spreading the awareness through the now popular Neerimgisona Banni ( Come, let us harvest water) workshops in southern Karnataka. He has written 8 books on the subject, out of which one is in English. ( Rainwater Harvesting) Padre is the convener of an informal platform for RWH , Jalakoota that documents success stories from world over and disseminates the selected ones to people. He says he would be grateful if grass-root rainharvesting activists can share their experiences,success stories & relevant photographs for him to document & spread.His favourite slogan : " If water scarcity splits people, Rainharvesting can bring them together."
It all started with Adike Patrike, 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 Patrike. In 1995, Adike Patrike 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.
Shree is always on the look out for information on Traditional Water Conservation Systems, Community RWH successes, Success Stories of RWH , Commonmen spreading RWH awareness etc.He says he will be grateful to receive & share info on these areas.
"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 recharge.
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.
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 for employment.
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.
M.P. Vasimalai is Executive Director of a national NGO, Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN) in India. After his graduation in Agronomy, he served for two years on an irrigation research program with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. Subsequently, he completed management studies at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He worked with a Gandhian NGO to actualize the self-governance of villages by promoting people organizations and facilitating the implementation of poverty alleviation programs by village assemblies. He was involved in enhancing the capacity of NGOs in natural resource management for more than a decade. He is a member of a national advisory committee to the Water Resources Ministry whose goal is to build farmers' stakes in Government programs. He is currently involved in Institutional development of people-based economic organisations. He provided
'Where there is a will there is a way', goes a popular saying, which perfectly applies to Vijay Kedia, an Aurangabad-based mechanical engineer/builder. While working on his family farm, his improved his understanding of water and its various facets. Further, the knowledge of raditional rainwater harvesting systems of Rajasthan encouraged him to innovatively modify the existing techniques to suit the local context. The Dewas roof water filter, Kedia-farm pattern bandhara (an earthen dam, commonly found in Maharashtra) and a rain gauge are the result of eight years of exploration. The potential of these low cost structures in eradicating ecological and economic poverty has been widely acknowledged. A Kedia bandhara costs only Rs 5,000 and can capture 70 - 80 per cent of the monsoon runoff, while keeping the soil moist for next five to six months. It is constructed by digging a two feet wide and eight to ten feet deep trench before the bandhara, and refilling it with soil after vertically lining it with a PVC sheet. The trench acts as a vertical aquifer. The PVC sheet stops the water from percolating outside. In his farm, following the seventh century model at Ghadasisar in Jaisalmer, the bhandaras are constructed in a series - thus, preventing the runoff going waste. The wells are constructed in the bottom of the bhandara - ensuring a sustained availability of water.
These days he is actively spreading the knowledge around with one message - "Sai jitna dee jiye, wame kutumb samaye" (the rain god is giving us enough water, it has to be managed intelligently), which Kedia believes can sustainably solve the water scarcity.
He has also designed a simple rain gauge, which costs only Rs 2, with a two-litre plastic bottle.
He is a man with a mission - to revive the vanishing madakas, the traditional water harvesting structures in coastal districts of Dakshina Kannadain in Karnataka and Kasargod in Kerala. Realising the importance of these structures in people's lives, D C Chowta and his Kasargod-based organisation Samriddi Charitable Trust has been generating awareness about these practices and ways to regenerate them.
Dr. Lux Lakshmanan, an Indian by birth, is a well known agriculture scientist from California. He is the owner of an agriculture consulting company in California known as California Agriculture Consulting Service (CACS). The company offers consultancies to the farmers of California to improve their crop production. Not only in USA, has he been involved in the crop production technologies all over the world.
Since 1986 he is actively involved with different crop production technologies in India. Dr. Lux has been using both locally available resources and advanced technologies to improve the productivity of crops in India. He has worked extensively on increasing soil water by rainwater harvesting. He was also instrumental in establishing agriculture training centers for farmers in collaboration with local charitable Foundations of India.
Dr Lux Lakshmanan