Water Conservation and its Heroes

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Various Water Conservation experts share their stories at ‘Kathayatra’

Pune (December 17): A technology to convert salty water into sweet; an integrated approach to conserve water and thereby stop labour migration; a cumulative effort to create water literacy and an impossible task to send water by train over 400 kilometres. These were the stories shared by various ‘Jalnayakas’ or Water Conservation Heroes.

They were speaking at ‘Majhi JalGatha’, a panel discussion on water conservation. The event was part of ‘KathaYatra’, a festival celebrating the culture of storytelling, organised by Bhasha Foundation. The panellists were Shekhar Gaikwad, Collector, Sangli; Balasaheb Deshmukh of Jalmitra, Parbhani; Aniket Lohiya of Manavlok, Beed and Jyoti Padalkar from Konkan. Senior TV journalist Prasanna Joshi was the anchor for the session. Swati Raje, Founder and President, Bhasha Foundation, was also present on the dais.

Gaikwad was at the head of the operation of sending a water train from Miraj to Latur during the recent draught in Marathwada. Sharing his experience, he said, “Beginning in April 2016, we sent a total of 26 Crore Litres of water across 400 kilometres in 111 trips. The cost of this transfer was only 50 paisa per litre, which eventually the Railway Ministry waived off.” He also informed about the rejuvenation of the Agrani River in Maan Taluka in Sangli district. In 2013, the river stretching 55 kilometres was brought to life through this project.

Lohiya informed that his NGO works upon curbing the migration of labour through water conservation. “This is an integrated approach. Several social problems are connected with the shortage of water. To stop labour migration, we have constructed 2000 community wells, 1000 structures and worked in 150 villages. In 25 villages, water conservation has been done with people participation through monetary help and voluntary labour,” he said.

Illustrating about her work, Padalkar said, “It is important to understand the language of nature. There are several examples in nature where salty water is converted into sweet. Under the leadership of Dr. Uday Bhawalkar, we researched at these places and came up with Bio-sanitiser Eco Technology. Unlike RO, it follows a completely natural process. We aim at using it for converting salty water into sweet in future, for the purpose of agriculture and daily chores.”

Stressing on the importance of water literacy, Deshmukh said, “Our organisation is dedicated to create awareness about water conservation. The volunteers have used every medium to spread the message that no drop of water should be wasted. We have reached about 25,000 people and rejuvenated 5,000 bore-wells. If we save water today, water will save us tomorrow.” He also demonstrated a Water Alarm, an innovation by his organisation that alerts you when the water tank is full.

Speaking on the occasion, Raje said, “Water is fundamental to our lives. We should be educated about water conservation. ‘Kathayatra’ has taken up this as a theme this year.” Raje also proposed the vote of thanks.