90 lakh farmers have been hit with drought in Maharashtra this year. Over 14,000 villages have been declared drought hit and the toll of suicides keeps rising. Water scarcity isn’t news for Maharashtra anymore; not for people living outside Maharashtra either and there is little reason why I would indulge you in reading a bunch of numbers that go on to say how sorry a state some people are in.
But that’s not what we are talking about today. That’s something we never talk about, but in the race for grabbing eyeballs, we should also not forget to talk about that which is positive. So here is a small story about how one man can also make a big difference.
This year’s drought, as you know, has hit Maharashtra hard. Nasik, though drought prone, has seen such severe drought conditions that people have no water for daily use.
It was at this point that Kunal, working for DCB Bank, thought of taking an initiative to solve this problem. He suggested utilising the Bank’s CSR funds to help nearby villages that face a severe drought problem
Getting approvals from senior management was not difficult, as the situation is extensively documented and highly publicized. However, the challenge was to find water where there was none and find a sustainable method to make it reach the people who needed it the most.
The team zeroed in on the village of Seola, located 16 kilometers away from Nasik city. This 2000 strong village had groundwater as its only source as their local wells had dried up. The government is in constant effort of completing a project that lays an extensive pipeline that can deliver water to all the villages, but it is only half done.
Kunal contacted a nearby private water vendor who had his own logistics arrangements to deliver water. Local vendors normally charge anywhere between 750 to 1200 INR per tanker of water. This translates to enormous costs if incurred on a daily basis. But after some negotiation, cajoling and a mutual concern for those in need convinced the vendor, Mr. Ganpat Sahane to provide the tanker at just 450 INR.
This came as a huge relief. Coupled with the help of gram sevaks like Ravindra Nimba Jadhav and employees from the Bank like Sarang, Robin, Sailesh and, Rahul; the villagers of Seola have been getting 5000 litres of water every day that has helped them get through the summer. The tanker delivers water to a dry well every day that the people then come and use.
The honourable sarpanch of the village, Punjabai Bhoyir and the up-sarpanch, Kalpana Navle were also instrumental in making sure the water reached the people who needed it the most, first.
Though this is not a permanent solution as the CSR funds will get exhausted and the demand per person will go up; it is a small step towards helping the people of Seola. The story just goes to highlight that humanity is bigger than any problem we may face. The constant activity by the Bank in the region also inspired a lot of onlookers and well-to-do individuals to contribute towards the cause.
Several people came forward for the cause and the Gram Panchayat receievd ample help from several sources to solve their problem and can now consider helping nearby villages. The government also noticed the efforts and hard work of the peopleand has quickened its pace of work on the pipeline.
The Bank will continue to provide water to the village for 3-4 days. The villagers have collectively managed to set up their own water supply from a private vendor for a short duration following which the pipeline should be ready. As I talked to Sachin from DCB Bank in Nasik, he told me about how a very simple initiative from one employee brought the whole branch, and later a whole village together, to work after a common cause.
“We are really hoping that the rains will pour anytime in the next two or three days. The weather is changing and the difficulties are short-lived but we genuinely need to work on permanent solutions for these problems.” says Sachin as we talk about what’s next in line.
If you take a closer look at the numbers, 2000 people are surviving on 5000 liters of water every day. This includes cattle and livestock as well; pegging usage of water at 2.5 liters of water per person per day. We live in metros where doctors advise us to drink twice that amount in a day to keep our skin clear and we use close to three times that quantity while taking a hot water shower after a tiring day in our air conditioned offices.
The availability of water is a serious problem. Attempts like these are beautiful and noteworthy; however, they aren’t a permanent solution to the problem of water scarcity. These are the farmers who produce food-grains that we eat each day. Indigenous production of food saves cost versus importing it.
An environment friendly and agriculture oriented urban policy is the only way we have towards making in India empowered, again. So this world environment day, we request you to save a little more, think a little more and care a little more. We have only one planet, let’s preserve it.
If you know of individuals or organisations who are doing their bit to make every drop matter, and who you think have a story that should be told to the world, do write to us on contact(at)chaaipani(dot)com
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