I was privileged to join Amla Ruia on an inspection trip to celebrate the success of the recenly constructed check dams near Jalna – Aurangabad. It was an inspiring day – we set out very early and breakfasted with Vijay Anna Boradeji – of Marathwada Sheti Sahayya Mandal (MSSM) has been working in the field of water conservation for the past four decades. He runs an Agricultural College – where they hold monthly meetings every 5th of the month for the farmers. These meetings have been held for the past 10 years and are exceptionally well attended. Their college continues to research new methods of farming and carries out extensive soil testing.
After breakfast we set out to see the results of the check dams – it was amazing to see the smiles on the faces of the villagers as they told their tales of wells that are brimming – and plentiful water after only one season of rain. We walked through fields of cotton, millet and other crops and saw two large shed nets – a new investment for the farmers after the construction of only one small check dam last May!
In one of the villages prior to the check dams being constructed, the total income of that village was 70 lakhs (USD115,000 approx). This past year has been a drought year however the small amount of rain that did fall filled the check dams and the village income has skyrocketed to 15 crores (USD2,465,900 approx). Not only are they growing more crops but their ability to keep livestock has also increased.
The check dams have been constructed on small streams – that now have the potential to become perennial – on the first dam we saw there were approx 55 famers benefitting from the increased water supply and that dam was recharging the water in 45 wells in the area. Wells as far away as 2 kms were positively affected by the increase in the water table.
The crops we walked through on the way to the check dams were healthy, and flourishing – and many many cups of chai later – and blessings given and received – we started the drive back to the City of Aurangabad.
There we visited a hospital – I had thought that all the miracles had already been seen in this day – but yet another was to greet us here at the Dr Hedgewar Hospital where they practice water harvesting for their central open garden area, as well as recycle all the water in their hospital – cleaning all the waste water themselves. This project deserves a full blog post and more as it is far seeing and the most futuristic vision of health care that I have ever seen.
So as we climbed into our own vehicle and took the road back towards home, we all knew that our minds and hearts had been opened by this day of experiencing the realisation of the vision of people who set their sights on making change and acted and created that change together with the team and the community that they serve. We salute their efforts and go forward again with renewed energy for our own projects. Water is a basic need and a basic right of every human being. Let us together nurture and honour water – and do all we can to protect this invaluable element.