Mission Paani: Former army man toils hard to harvest rainwater for rural India, revamp water maps

FP Staff
·3 min read

With our natural resources ever depleting, the only way to resolve issues like a looming water crisis is by taking charge of nurturing natural resources. One such possible method is rainwater harvesting, a conservation method that's been around for decades but still not used to its full capacity. And a man who is dedicating his life to make the process a life-saving solution in Indian villages is Colonel SG Dalvi (Retd).

Colonel Dalvi is national coordinator for water conservation at Climate Reality Project of India. The former army man has worked continuously to revamp water maps across scores and hundreds of villages. One of the states with extreme water crises in rural areas is Maharashtra. In Pune alone, two consequent years were declared as water crisis months by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). The crises have been continuing since the early 2000s, in the light of which rainwater harvesting was made compulsory for all new buildings, residential or government, in 2007. But there were little checks and balances to ensure operation.

In an interview given during the Harpic-News 18 led Mission Paani, the colonel spoke about the crisis. According to NITI Ayog's statistics, 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress. In his speech, he says in our struggle to allot water to needy citizens, we often neglect the water that is freely available on our rooftops.

He goes on to explain that while useful, rainfall is not a constant occurrence across all areas. Some areas receive heavy rainfall to the point of flooding and some cities thirst for a drop of rain even during the busiest monsoons.

He gives the example of his project in Pune where there is an average rainfall of 750mm, as compared to the neighbouring metropolis of Mumbai, which gets over 2500mm rainfall. Standing in small town from Pune, he explains how 1000sw ft rooftop can accumulate 60,000 litres of life-saving water per annum. Whereas in a city like Mumbai, a roof of similar size can collect 2,50,000 litres of water per year!

According to World Health Organization's (WHO) "Human right to water and sanitation", the bare minimum required by a person to live a clean life is 100 litres of water per day. Whereas some committees put it at 135 litres.

In cities like Mumbai and Pune and their nearby rural areas, groundwater is no longer an option and they depend on dams and lakes that collect water during the rainy season. However, these structures have a capacity and have to be closed off once that capacity is met. In such a situation, there isn't adequate water left with the civic bodies to provide the bare minimum to all the citizens. Generally, the poor are affected the most as they cannot hire private tankers and the likes.

But thanks to Colonel's efforts, things are starting to change. He says now there is so much water in the village Kaam Kheda that his students have enough left over to go and water all the trees in the school. The villagers are so thankful to the colonel that he is being called "jal doot" or "rain man." The Colonel pleads to people to take inspiration from Kaam Kheda and says if that place can become "aatmanirbhar" and water sufficient, we all can achieve the same.

You can contribute to the cause by taking a Jal Pratigya. Visit www.news18.com/mission-paani

Watch the Waterthon LIVE here.

Also See: Mission Paani: Bengaluru-based engineer helps revive 10,000 wells to mitigate city's water crisis

Mission Paani Waterthon: Akshay Kumar says hydrotherapy helped his recovery from slipped disc

Mission Paani: Rooftop harvesting to reviving ponds, how India's communities are conserving water

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