Consisting of seven major rivers—Ganges, Yamuna, Brahmaputra, Krishna, Godavari, Kaveri, and Mahanadi—India is known as a land of rivers. Sadly, despite the country being blessed with water resources, the rivers in it are dying or polluted.
According to a June 2018 report by government think tank NITI Aayog, India is facing the “worst water crisis in its history,” with some 600 million people suffering severe water shortage, and approximately 200,000 people dying as a result of lack of access to clean drinking water each year. This worrying situation is “only going to get worse” in the coming years—21 cities around India will possibly be exhausted of groundwater by 2020. And by 2030, half of the Indian population will not have access to drinking water.
In the face of such a water crisis, one young man, Ramveer Tanwar, decided to take matters into his own hands.
Tanwar hails from Dadha village in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, where 13 droughts have plagued the state in the last 15 years, leaving farmer suicide on the rise.
When Tanwar was a final year Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) student at UP Technical University, he noticed how the once-thriving ponds he used to play in during childhood died owing to garbage dumping and encroachments.
“I grew up in Dadha, a village little off Greater Noida, playing amidst the lakes and the wells of my place,” Tanwar told Edex Live. “Most of the garbage which is diverted towards the water bodies are domestic, not chemical.”
Tanwar was concerned over the dying water resources.
Speaking to NDTV, Tanwar warned: “In a big city like Noida, there are no more ponds as all of them have been encroached upon. This is a dangerous trend and if it continues, will leave no ponds, which are most the potent waterbodies for groundwater recharge. People must stop disposing waste in ponds and lakes and encroaching upon them, as this is gradually pointing us towards the end of groundwater resources in India.”
However, most villagers paid no heed to this alarming situation at that time.
“I was taking tuitions for the kids in the village back then and even they felt that they had to do something about the dying water resources. When they tried talking to their parents, the adults refused to believe that there could be any such thing as ‘lack of water,’” Tanwar recalled.
Ascertaining the villagers had “no understanding of what they were doing,” Tanwar felt “it was important that we picked a conversation.” So, in a quest to address the dire situation, in 2013, Tanwar began visiting villagers, house to house, to educate them about water conservation, dying water resources, and the consequences of dumping trash in the lakes and ponds.
He also urged his students to ask their parents to attend a meeting he organized every Sunday at a common place to discuss the matter.
“The responses were positive and more people started arriving at the chaupals (common place),” Tanwar said.
To commend Tanwar’s efforts, the district magistrate officially named his programs “Jal Chaupal.”
Other than educating locals, Tanwar has also been teaming up with students and villagers to remove the garbage from the lakes and ponds since 2015.
“We started by reviving the pond in Dabra Village, which had been turned into a dumping yard. However, with the help of locals we cleant [sic] it and also planted saplings on the periphery of the pond to rejuvenate the ecosystem there,” Tanwar told Times of India.
Alluding to the restoration of the pond, Tanwar said in an interview with The Logical Indian: “Many of the villagers came ahead to help. Some of them worked with us, some offered us tools and equipment. We even contacted the forest department which provided us with plants to be planted around the lake. Right now, the trees we have planted there are flourishing.”
In addition, after cleaning the pond in order to ensure that waste doesn’t end up in the bodies of water, Tanwar and his team established a double filtration system.
“We then devised a simple double filtration system. So any water entering the lakes would have to pass through a mesh of wooden planks and then a mesh of grass,” Tanwar explained.
In order to stop bigger things such as plastic bottles, the wooden plank mesh does the job. Whilst the grass mesh filters the incoming water.
“Both the pit and the grass-patch is cleaned up every week, with the help of the village volunteers,” he said.
To prevent the contamination of the lakes by slush being formed by the finer particles of waste, they “encouraged fish farmers of our village to raise at least 10,000 keechad (slush) eating fish, like the katla fish for example.”
“While I can only ensure that a lake or pond is cleaned up once, it is upto the villagers to maintain it,” Tanwar said.
Fortunately, the villagers willingly play a role in maintaining the system. And now, people from 10 neighboring villages also lend a hand to help out Tanwar in his “Jal Chaupal” programs.
— Ramveer Tanwar (@ramveertanwarg) March 8, 2019
Taking note of Jal Chaupal’s success, the government of Uttar Pradesh set up a “Bhujal Sena” (Groundwater Army—a group that focuses on water conservation ) in each district of the state.
Needless to say, Tanwar was appointed as the coordinator of the “Bhujal Sena” of his district.
“But the government has zero funds for the awareness programs,” Tanwar said.
To this day, Tanwar, who works as an engineer, has to rely on his own salary to fund the project.
Though he has to juggle between his career and work for water conservation, Tanwar doesn’t find this an arduous task, as he has the support of the villagers who are “more eager to listen and participate.”
“Here we do the work, hands-on. And it is the immediate impact that keeps me motivated,” he said.
The passionate Tanwar pledges to “continue with reviving the lakes and nature which dotted our childhood.”
To date, 10 lakes in Gautam Buddha Nagar have been revived thanks to Tanwar’s water conservation project. And this initiative has now spread to more than 50 villages.
यह तालाब गांव तुस्याना में दो महीने पहले खोदा गया था। अब यह बरसात के पानी से भर गया है।This pond in Village Tusyana was digged in may 2018 before rain. Now its full of rainwater.
Recently, Tanwar has started an online campaign to connect youth with water bodies, in turn, driving them to clean up polluted ponds and lakes.
With the hashtag—#Selfie_With_Pond, people can simply take a selfie near a polluted body of water and upload it on Facebook with information “so others can understand the importance of lakes and ponds and can take initiative to save them,” Tanwar told The Epoch Times.
First International Support for #Selfie_with_pond campaign from Philippines.Thanks#SelfieWithPond
In addition, Tanwar is currently working on the rural tourism project. He explained: “After saving the lake, we are trying to convert it in [sic] Tourism spot, so tourist from different countries can come to lake, stay in rural area. If they like it, they can donate to save more lakes.”
So far, Tanwar has managed to turn the lake in Nainkheri village, Delhi, into a tourist spot. He said this year, one tourist from Canada and many from others from different states of India have visited the lake.
There’s hope to avert India’s water crisis if more people come together to lend a hand to Tanwar in his remarkable initiative. To learn more about his amazing work in the area of water conservation, follow him on Facebook.
Watch the video below:
Meet India's lake saviour.This 25-year-old has revived more than a dozen dead lakes in Uttar Pradesh. Ramveer Tanwar told Brut India how he plans to save a 100 more. 🏜💦
由 Brut India 发布于 2018年9月28日周五