When I recently visited my hometown after a long time, as I was strolling around by the banks of the river on a beautiful evening, watching the enchanting sunset mesmerizing the sky atop the river, leaving its streaks of golden hue on the surface of water, nostalgia danced in front of my eyes, playing those flashback scenes of my childhood spent on the banks of this river – the ‘Gayatri Puzha’.
Venturing into the depths of this water body with a bunch of friends was my favourite pastime in those days. More than just a visual treat for nature lovers or a splash ground for water sports, this river was such an integral ‘member’ of every family of my village, serving their daily potable and domestic water needs.
Reverently regarded as the ‘Great Mother’ of every household, she occupied a divine place in every heart. Every festival and celebration would seem incomplete without offering worship and gratitude towards her. It made me wonder if though a small one, may be she had a significant role to play in this land being named the ‘God’s Own Country’.
While I was rejoicing in these memories, like it always happens in life, a sudden jolt of today’s stark reality punched me in my face! To this day, the town remains here, the friends still meet, the banks still adorn the river, the sun still showers its hues of rise and fall on her but something seemed hugely missing. Oh, I suddenly realize that she has dwindled, frailed and looks like she is almost in her last days. And no, its NOT because she has grown old … the actual reason is the same common concern that rules many of the families in today’s world – that of ‘negligence’. As time progressed in the calendar of ‘modern development’, borewells and pipelines and ideas of water ‘depletion with no replenishment’ entered the region. Though the water needs are still being met without her for some decades now, people do not realize that, like nobody can replace a ‘Mother’, no artificial resource on earth can replace ‘Mother Nature’.
Deeply agonized by the devastated and helpless, yet loving eyes of my ‘Great Mother’, it took me no time to realize that this is not just an isolated instance. Today, this is indeed the common sorry story of many of the rivers in this country we call our ‘Motherland’. Though the days ahead stare in despair, a slight ray of hope still exists in the form of ‘River Rejuvenation’. Yes, Mother Nature has still not given up on her crazy children! But she is continuously giving a wake up call that it’s more than high time we start actionizing ourselves in reversing the dramatic catastrophe that we have spun all around us.
Thankfully, waking up to this call and taking the right, scientific, natural, comprehensive, sustainable and farsighted actions is the Water Projects Team of our volunteer based NGO, The Art of Living, rekindling the hopes of nurturing the dwindling rivers, lakes and other water bodies across the length and breadth of India. Like any of its service projects, this one too is a one-of-its-kind in the country for it tackles the water problem with a holistic five-pronged strategy :
- Scientific Planning of Recharge Structures through a systematic study of Slope, Drainage Network, Soil texture, Geomorphology, Lineaments, Groundwater prospects, GIS based thematic maps etc.
- Inclusive Local Community Engagement at each site through awareness campaigns and extensive Capacity Building Training Programs
- Raising funds for satisfying the financial requisites of above activities through partnerships with Governments, Corporates, Foundations, and such, thereby lending an opportunity to every citizen to contribute their bit of care and concern.
- Grassroot Project Management framework that takes advantage of the latest technology for monitoring and evaluation of outcomes.
- Go an extra mile in not just restoring water in the rivers, but also undertake path breaking initiatives in creating sanitation and hygiene around the river areas, drinking water provision through RO based community filters, Water Policy Advocacy with policymakers, training and adoption of organic and sustainable agriculture and establishment of Farmer Producer Organizations for ‘No mediator’ income generation.
Lakhs of Art of Living volunteers with expertise in diverse fields of science, technology, agriculture, local community knowledge, finance, engineering and many others are relentlessly working round the clock in various parts of India, toiling their hearts & souls out for reviving and rejuvenating the water bodies across different states. Did that leave you wondering about the outcome of such an extensive endeavor ? Well, just to save your effort of read and my effort of write, let me leave it to the ‘picture speaking louder than the words’ below:
Though a humongous water revolution is already taking place, we have miles and miles to go before we bring back the lost sources of our fundamental lifeline – the water. While a lot of them are doing their bit towards this life saving cause, each one of us has the responsibility of joining our hands with them.
Mother Nature is tirelessly serving us with incessant unconditional love every moment. For the sake of the humane heart within us, can we do something in return for showing our gratitude towards her?
Come along and join us on this exuberant endeavor and be a part of the solution rather than the problem in this journey of warding off the evil – water crisis! For further details and to chain along this water revolution in your own way of contribution, visit water.artofliving.org !