Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing the nation in the latest edition of his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’, lauded Babita Rajput, a 19-year-old resident of Bundelkhand, Madhya Pradesh for leading water conservation efforts in Bhelda village.
In a remarkable feat, over 100 women led by Rajput, in collaboration with the Forest Department, carved a pathway by cutting a 107-metre long mountain, which now fills the water in their village pond. Rajput has thanked PM Modi for the recognition.
During the address, Modi also emphasised on the importance of water conservation.
"During this month of 'magh', Haridwar is hosting Kumbh this year. On March 22, World Water Day will be celebrated. To associate 'magh' month with water is that after this month winters and summers begin," the PM said.
Although the government was trying to resolve the water crisis problem for years, nothing substantial had happened. As a result, these women joined forces to cut the hill by digging a canal to channelise rainwater that took 18 months to accomplish the task. Among other reasons to undertake this initiative was the urge to help farming activities and aid livestock.
“We have been working for over 18 months to channel water into the village; the water used to freely flow in the forest and thus could not be used,” Rajput had earlier told the media, adding that the water was unable to reach the 40-acre pond that was created a decade ago under the Bundelkhand package.
The hand pumps in the villages, which were dry and parched, are now full of water.
In 2020, a 70-year-old man from Bihar, Laungi Bhuiyan, was in the news for having spent over 30 years to create a three-kilometre lake in Gaya. He wanted the rainwater to reach the fields of his village, Kothiwala, where animal husbandry and farming are the primary occupations. Indian billionaire and Mahindra Group CEO, Anand Mahindra gifted a tractor to Bhuiyan, and lauded his efforts.
Bhuiyan is known as the second ‘mountain man of Bihar’ after Dashrath Manjhi from Gehlaur village, who carved a path through a ridge of hills using only a hammer and chisel. In fact, such was his story that it inspired a Bollywood movie called ‘Manjhi: The Mountain Man’ in which actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui played the titular role.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)