First CSE Media Fellowship: Making Water Everybody's Business

October 2002 - January 2003

The first CSE media fellowship on water titled Making Water Everybody's Business was held from October 2002 to January 2003. The fellowship invited applications from journalists to investigate and understand how people and the state governments are – or are not – capturing the raindrop to drought proof the country.

How they are rising to the challenge of rainwater harvesting. The suggested areas of work included government programmes, traditional water harvesting systems, recharging of groundwater or surface water by communities and measures adopted to cope with the intensifying urban water crisis.  An eminent panel of jury selected 11 fellows to span the country on issues of water. The fellowship drew forth a varied and interesting selection of news stories and features from the fellows. We bring to you their interesting exposes.

Aniket Alam
Senior Correspondent, The Hindu
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh

Areas of focus

  • Effectiveness of percolation tanks and check dams as low cost drought proofing options in Medak district of Andhra Pradesh

  • The national water grid or river linking plan as a preferred solution for combating recurring droughts in the country

  • Success of sugarcane harvest due to the introduction of the drip and sprinkler irrigation system by the Medak administration

  • Assessment of the pitfalls of the ambitious national river interlinking plan and the relevance of water harvesting systems

  • Discussion of economics of the Ganga-Cauvery link scheme and the ecological impacts and political ramifications of the scheme

Published stories


Anuradha Kumar
Assistant Editor, Economic and Political Weekly
Mumbai, Maharashtra

Areas of focus

  • Efforts to save Nagpur’s decaying water bodies, restore other surface reservoirs and recharge groundwater levels form one of the key initiatives of a draft report of the National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan commissioned by MoEF

  • Successive governments in Maharashtra have launched several schemes to cope with the increasing water scarcity in rural areas, with little success. The worst affected are drought prone regions like Vidarbha
  • In Vidarbha mindless extraction of groundwater has resulted in a deterioration of water quality. The presence of pollutants has led to health hazards and life expectancy has fallen in the last 25 years

  • Problems of severe fluorosis in Yavatmal district of Maharashtra – another manifestation of the mindless extraction of groundwater

  • Active participation of local villagers, particularly women in watershed development programmes can provide the means to better their lives

  • Scanty rainfall, lack of irrigation and prolonged powercuts have adversely affected paddy production in Maharashtra’s Ramtek tehsil

Published stories

Arjimund Hussain Talib

Economic Editor/Columnist, Greater Kashmir
Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir

Areas of focus

  • Creation of a special Rs 1000 crore Prime Minister’s fund for the newly-launched ‘Hariyali movement’ – a project to involve grassroots institutions and NGOS in water management

  • Lack of a specific department in the Kashmir government dedicated to water management creating hindrances in RWH schemes in the state

  • Water scarcity and a drought scenario in the Kashmir valley drives hapless villagers to suicide

  • Political interference guided by partisan interests played a big role in misuse of available funds and mismanagement of scant water resources

  • Te task of a uniform water supply system has been made difficult in Srinagar due to heterogeneous and haphazard growth of the city leading to acute drinking water crisis in the city

  • Expansion of the World Bank aided Integrated Watershed Development Project (IWDP) in Kashmir

Published stories

Ashutosh Upadhyay

Managing Editor, Pahar
Nainital, Uttaranchal

Areas of focus

  • Story of Damodar Singh Rathore of Pithoragarh who has pledged to plant one crore trees in his lifetime

  • Pollution and degradation of Naini lake in Nainital

  • Community management of water resources extended to 773 districts in 8 states

  • Initiative to recharge water resources by Dudhatoli Community Development Institution in Uttaranchal

  • Uses of traditional water harvesting structures called Naula in Kumaon

  • Traditional water management and irrigation systems used in the Himalayan foothill regions

  • Report on the master plan drawn up by the government on river interlinking


Published stories

Deepak Kumar Singh

Staff Writer, Hindustan Times
Jaipur, Rajasthan

Areas of focus

  • Assessment of Rajasthan government’s water-related policies and its effectiveness and ineffectiveness

  • The role of village in water management – should they take over responsibility from the government?

  • The failure of Rajiv Gandhi Water Management Mission, the Rajasthan government’s biggest water management project

  • Rajasthan Water Sector Restructuring Project (RWSRP) – a 734 crore World Bank sponsored project

  • Mining in the Aravali region causing irreparable damage to the water resources of the area

  • Number of private tankers supplying water to Rajasthan could be a beginning to the process of privatisation of water

  • Proposal to introduce water as a subject in the school curriculum to make children aware of the acute problem of water scarcity faced by the state of Rajasthan

Published stories

H Bharath Kumar

Senior Reporter, Kannada Prabha
Bangalore, Karnataka

Areas of focus

  • The problem of fluorosis in Kolar and other parts of Karnataka

  • A unique local system of sharing water to fight drought, called Damasha

  • Women empowerment through water tanks

  • Pollution of groundwater through gold mines

Published stories

Mrinal Talukdar

Senior Correspondent, United News of India
Guwahati, Assam

Areas of focus

  • Acute water crisis in the world’s wettest place – Cherrapunjee or Sohra in Meghalaya

  • People’s participation in water management in Cherrapunjee could stop it from turning into a wet dessert

  • The world’s only living root bridge in Meghalaya, an ecological wonder is getting stronger day by day

  • Traditional land holding pattern and indifference of village councils in people’s involvement compounding water crisis situation in Cherrapunjee

  • Success of the spring water management programme initiated by Sohra Science society in tackling Cherrapunjee water crisis


Published stories

Paul Jose Fernandes

Chief Reporter, Gomantak Times

Areas of focus

  • Success of watershed management projects in areas like Barcem, Adnem, Quepem of Goa

  • Failure on part of various government agencies to comply with central government guidelines on sewage disposal posing a grim threat to groundwater in Goa under rapid urbanization

  • Involvement of students in building check-dams in the remote area of Canacona

  • Causes and effects of pollution in the Shiroda spring which is on the verge of extinction due to neglect

  • Study of the status of other springs and waterfalls in Goa

  • Expose on the gross wastage of water (40,000 mld per annum) from the Opa water treatment 

  • Kulagars of Goa which have existed as idyllic and harmonious spots of green architecture over generations are now being promoted as part of eco-tourism

  • Study of groundwater depletion and pollution of river Mandovi


Published stories

Priya Ranjan Sahu

Senior Staff Writer, Hindustan Times
Sambalpur, Orissa

Areas of focus

  • The future of Hirakud dam which many researchers feel might be silted up by 2020 rendering it totally ineffective.

  • Due to lack of proper maintenance a huge lake in the Hafudera Minor Irrigation Project in Jojumara forest is losing its lustre and utility.

  • Assessment of the Greater Sambalpur Water Project (GSWP) inaugurated a decade earlier which is finally ready to be commissioned.

  • Impact-assessment of the government run water projects in Gaisilet, Titlagarh, Birmaharajnagar – areas in the shadow of drought.

  • Reasons for the delay in the Chiroli dam project planned to provide irrigation to the perennially drought prone Padampur in Bargarh district.

  • Degeneration of the holy Somnath temple pond, locally known as Chandan bandh in Balibandha due to excessive pollution.

Published stories

Saurabh Sinha

Copy Editor cum News Correspondent
The Times of India, New Delhi

Areas of focus

  • Water bodies and urban wetlands under serious threat in the city of Delhi spelling doom for the already depleting water tables.

  • Steps taken by the government to revive traditional water harvesting structures before impending Delhi summer.

  • Construction on Yamuna flood plains could jeopardize a large reservoir of biodiversity and impede recharge of aquifers.

  • Check dams built in Asola forest region contribute to the reappearance of Aravali’s lost vegetation.

  • Over-exploitation of deep aquifers in parts of Punjab and Haryana creating anomaly in the water table.

Published stories

Sudhir Kumar Pal

Staff Report/Sub Editor, Ranchi Express
Ranchi, Jharkhand

Areas of focus

  • Efforts of villagers in Singari village in Ranchi district to use the water from 18 village ponds to create a water bank and recharge the groundwater table

  • Gradual decline in the tradition of constructing Aahars – traditional water harvesting structures – in Palamau leading to hardships for farmers

  • Pani Panchayats’ contribution to drought-relief in Latehar district of Jharkhand

  • Palamau, Latehar, Gumla and Chaibasa villagers begin initiatives to save water

  • Stressing the need for people’s management in water resources in Jharkhand

  • Shivnath river in Chhattisgarh made inaccessible to villagers after having been auctioned off to private contractors

Published stories