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Issue 97
, 2020
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What is the future of water in India?

Source: Dispatch-55, Date: , 2020

Dr. Rajendra Singh, better known as Waterman of India (Jalpurush) and a winner of the Raman Magsaysay Award and the Stockholm Water Prize, has transformed drought-prone Rajasthan by rejuvenating the rivers of the state. Believing in a community-driven water management system, he has helped villagers to take the charge of water management in in their areas through various techniques. From quitting a government job to being a water activist, he has travelled a long way. We got hold of him in 'Ma Ganga Sammelan'.

Q: How did you shift from treating people's health to addressing the water problem of the nation?

A: While coming from Ayurveda, I was initially treating people with their illness, providing medical care.But the people told me that their real problem lies in water scarcity. They were clueless in finding solutions for this. They requested me to help them to solve the water scarcity issue. It was difficult for me as I wasn't an expert in that domain. I realized this was more important and I started reading and doing work for water conservation.

Q: What is the future of water in India?

A: At present, the future of water in India is really in an emergency state (the water emergency). The government is looking at the water issue as urgency not as emergency. The government will have to understand the reality of water scarcity and consider it emergency. When I ask the government when will it take the issue water scarcity as emergency, they remain silent. If the country is really interested in facing the water related challenges, they can start the community driven decentralized water management system. It is the only solution which can make the water available for this country. Otherwise, we can't do anything. We don?t need commercialization or marketization but our government is interested in the same. They are creating challenges for future. 

Q: How do you see the challenges India is facing on water scarcity and how can we resolve it?

The challenges ahead are- the wells are getting dried, canals are without water. At one end, we are wasting water (not spending judiciously) recklessly and at the other end, we are facing water crisis. Both are interconnected. We can?t solve water scarcity problem until we use water judiciously. The struggle lies between the two. If the government doesn't take note of it, the future of water is gripped in darkness. Around 365 districts are suffering from water scarcity problem. The level of water of wells are going down. The farmers are facing dearth of water for irrigation. Community driven decentralized water management is the only solution to cope up with this challenge. 

Q: What is the biggest achievement Tarun Bharat Sangh has achieved?

A: Tarun Bharat Sangh has been working for over 1200 villages. We are working towards making a change via addressing various issues related to water. We have recharged around 2500 wells which has positively impacted the lives of lakhs of residents. Around 17 lakhs people have returned to their lands for cultivation after their villages were destroyed. Rajasthan is a place which witnesses the minimum rainfall, has now addressed its water scarcity problem. If Rajasthan can do it, why not other states.