At a two-day meeting of representatives from 50 villages - `Mere Gaon ki Kahani, Meri Zubani` - organised by the Centre for Science and Environment, they shared their experiences, even though they didn`t share the same language.
Hardevsinh Jadeja from Rajkot district described how the wealth of his village has almost tripled over the past five years after it successfully implementing various water harvesting techniques. Today, he too is prosperous enough to afford two jeeps and two cars, apart from a cell phone, of which he proudly declared: "I have a `ghumta` (roaming) number".
Jakalbehn Dheora from Bhavnagar described how, by harvesting rainwater from their rooftops, they get clean drinking water. Much of the water that flows down the streets is collected and filtered into underground storage facilities and can be used for purposes other than drinking. Earlier, much of the water in the area was all saline since the region is close to the sea. "It`s better than Bisleri,`` she quipped.
Be it farmers from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat or even Tamil Nadu, water scarcity is something everyone dreads. With almost 10 crore people and six crore livestock over six states threatened by an impending drought this year too, most of the villagers present wondered what it would be like in the years to come if communities do not band together to tackle the problem.A villager from Saurashtra commented that while droughts have been severe, they have had to constantly do their bit to keep pots filled. But still, the depleting ground water level has been taking its toll, making them dig deeper. "The water which we could find 35 years back at 50 feet is now present at 1,000 feet,`` he said. Increasing dependence on the ground water for agriculture is also a major factor contributing to the depleting reserves. And with time-tested methods falling into disuse in drought-prone states like Gujarat and Rajasthan, communities are increasingly depending on the government to fulfill their needs. `Yeh sarkaar ka kaam hai` ("It is the government`s job),`` they feel, and exploit available resources without giving back to Nature what we take from it. (Report published in the `Times of India`)
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