Amidst India's abundant rainfall, a persistent concern looms large—ensuring the cleanliness of accessible water sources. The United Nations World Water Development Report 2023, titled "Partnerships and Cooperation for Water," paints a sobering picture—a staggering 80 per cent of individuals grappling with water stress are concentrated in Asia, notably in Northeast China, India, and Pakistan.
Yet, amid these challenges, glimmers of hope emerge in the form of dedicated individuals who have fervently championed the cause of clean water, breathing life into water bodies and communities. In a world grappling with water scarcity, these indomitable figures embody the power of individual action. Their commitment resonates as an inspiring testament to the potential for change, reminding us that every drop counts in the ocean of environmental conservation.
Across states in India, there are certain individuals who are fighting to bring about this change and here are three of them who have done their bit and continue to do so in the fight to bring clean water to people.
In Agrotha village, Madhya Pradesh, 19-year-old Babita Rajput's relentless efforts have turned the tide against water scarcity during meagre rainfall. A shrinking 70-acre lake had long suffered from water depletion, but Babita's unwavering determination brought about a transformative change.
Babita's petition to excavate a 107-metre trench near the hillside, redirecting water flow to replenish the lake, encountered opposition from farmers encroaching on the barren lake for cultivation. Undeterred, Babita found an ally in the Jal Saheli group, composed of 12 village women. Under her leadership, the group swelled to 200 women, united in their mission. Together, they carved a 12-foot wide, 107-metre long trench, altering rainwater's course and rejuvenating the lake.
In the wake of the devastating 2018 cyclonic storm Gaja that wreaked havoc in Tamil Nadu, Nirmal Raghavan, a Dubai-based software developer hailing from the affected region, was deeply moved by the catastrophe. His determination led him to embark on a remarkable journey to restore his homeland's vitality.
Choosing to remain in his village despite the storm's aftermath, Nirmal left his job in Dubai at the age of 35 to rejuvenate his community. His first priority was reviving the Peravurani Lake, which could potentially irrigate thousands of acres of farmland. With the support of like-minded volunteers, Nirmal initiated the planting of 25,000 saplings across the Kaveri delta region. His social media campaign, #BounceBackDelta, aimed to assist cyclone-affected individuals with essential supplies.
Nirmal's initiatives expanded to encompass diverse projects, including the Miyawaki plantation, a mangrove forest restoration, as well as rainwater harvesting and water treatment.
Sikkim's Tsomgo Lake was drowning in a sea of waste—discarded milk cartons, snack wrappers, plastic bottles, and sewage marred its once-pristine shores. This dire scenario extended further as 270 households relied on the contaminated lake for daily water needs. Sangay Lama, a local resident, emerged as a beacon of change in 2006, rallying tourists and local stakeholders to adopt waste management practices.
Collaborating with the forest department, World Wide Fund (WWF), environmental officials, shop owners, and the gram panchayat, Sangay, aged 37, co-founded the Tsomgo Pokhri Sanrakshan Samiti (TPSS), a lake conservation committee. Households and businesses alike began utilising dedicated waste disposal bins, channelling waste to the Martam Dumping and Recovery Centre. Advocacy efforts promoted eco-friendly practices, transforming the lake into a pristine water source suitable even for drinking.