Story Of The Month

Rebirth of River Aravari

Loving care of villagers of Alwar district in Rajasthan brings to life a dry water source.    

In 1987, Tarun Bharat Singh (TBS-an NGO), took the initiative to rejuvenate the streams of River Aravari by constructing a johad at Bhavta village.  Johads are small water harvesting structures built by the villagers. In Gopalpura, where village check dams were in a state of disrepair, TBS got the technical support of the area's Block development Officer and the Junior Engineer. The water levels in the johads rose within two monsoons and remained intact for a longer period. This motivated other villages to follow suit.The water in the johads helped raise the water-table of the river's catchment area and also enriched the surrounding forests.  The forests and scrubs, in turn, helped retard the run -offs from monsoon rains.  Within a decade Aravari came to life and it now flows throughout the year.  

What motivated the villagers to show this extreme patience and tenacity?

says Rajendra Singh, General Secretary of TBS         

' We make the villagers stake-holders in whatever activity we undertake and that itself ensures its survival and long term sustainability'. 

With the river coming to life, there has been qualitative changes in the life of the villagers. The women no longer walk miles to fetch water.  Children splash about the river. In a place where a leisurely bath was a luxury, even animals now get a ghat to bathe and drink.  

Things have improved to such an extent that people who had earlier migrated to the slums of Delhi and Ahmedabad are returning to their villages.  Even the river has come alive with fish that are 2 feet in length and weigh upto 10 kg.  

 This year's Ramon Magsaysay Award was given to Tarun Bharat Singh for his watershed management projects in Alwar. His efforts benefited 750 villages spread over 6500

The beginning of a good future for a country periodically besieged by droughts.

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