|Dr. Rajendra Singh, Water man of India. godofsmallthing.com|
|johad, Rajasthan sandrp in|
Armed with a degree in Ayurvedha medical sciences Dr. Rajendra Singh in the 1980s served village the community in Rajasthan, India and cured their eye problems and night blindness Being young and energetic, upon staying in the Rajasthani village for a while, he realized the villagers there and elsewhere in this semi arid area had no access to potable water. The women had to walk to far off places in the hot sun to bring water for the family's daily requirements. Countless women from families in the remote villages daily had to go though the rigors of bringing drinking water, walking all the way up and down. There are no community wells close by.
At the age of 28 in 1985, being a native of Uttar Pradesh and son of a wealthy landlord, he wanted to do something for the villagers to get enough water for their daily needs and to mitigate their problem. Water is the most essential thing for their survival there and there is an urgent need to address the issue. Without any hesitation, he quit his government job (employed in Jaipur), left his family and settled in a small village in Rajasthan’s Alwar district. This and other adjacent districts are water-stressed, receiving less than 650 mm rain fall a year brought by SW Monsoon. His initial idea was to start clinics to get the attention of the people and was serious about applying the age-old traditional technology used by our forefathers to get water. This will transform the mundane lives of the people here and bring them hope and confidence to take care of their livelihood.
|johad in Rajasthan, .indiatimes.com|
Dubbed as India’s “water man” Rajendra Singh, in the early days, had no idea about johad, nor did he know the value of water conservation and its impact on the society. Starting out with a poor knowledge of water and its conservation methods, over a short period of time in the area of water management he reached a dizzy height which other experts can not think of. It shows his sheer power and commitments to his cherished mission. A chance meeting with Mangu Meena and Nathi Bhalai in the Aravalli mountain area was a blessing in disguise and they introduced him to the johad, a large crescent-shaped dam made of earth and rocks to store water. Johads / aghors are water bodies, which have large catchment area where water is accumulated during monsoons and peculated down to the water table. These ancient structures help build reservoirs and have been around since 1500 BC and were ingeniously designed not only to hold runoff from monsoon rains, but also help the water percolate into the ground and improve the water table. To build them lots of manpower are required. This can not be done by a group of 4 or 5 people. It requires the involvement of the entire community to get the project going and complete it successfully.
traditional water storage system, India johad, en.wikipedia.org
His hard work paid off and produced amazing results. The construction of Johads impacted the water table that rose from about 100 metres to between about 13 metres and 3 metres. Consequently, the area under single cropping increased from manifold from 11% to 70%, and the area under double cropping went up from 3% to 50%. Yet another advantage was Forest cover also expanded from 7% to 40%.
Because of Singh's sustained work, Alwar and other 10 districts are dotted with 4,500 working johads. Now five rivers flow year round fed by a protected watershed and the revitalizing impact of the village reservoirs. The additional advantage is land under cultivation has grown by five times and this increased the income of the farmers. Local men find a job in their own village and for the women folks, they can access water locally, no need to walk up and down farther than the village to fetch a pitcher or two of water
Success did not come to him easily. The state officials, invoking State Irrigation and Drainage Act of 1954 set the road blocks for his mission. They filed countless cases against him in the court
Undaunted, he kept approaching various government officials for help and cooperation. People like Sadvi Padmavati and swami Atma Bhodananda and Greta Thernburg gave him the needed inspiration. The visit of former President K.R. Narayanan in 2000 to one of his projects changed every thing. No more red tape and no more roadblocks by the arrogant govt. officials.
Now 60 years old, Rajaendra Singh is an inspiration to the young people in the area of water conservation and management. Salutations to Dr. Rajendra Singh, a worthy Indian whose sustained mission and commitments will act as a stimulus to the future generation of young people.