Stories in the wind:
Anil Agarwal,the founder of CSE was one of the earliest champions of RWH. His credibility gave him the opportunity to address the entire political leadership of the country in 2000 about the need for RWH as a national mission. CSE was quick to support the Chennai Rain Centre idea. Since then it has promoted a second Rain Centre at Meerut, UP. Its web-site Jal Swaraj is a treasure-house of inspiration and information. It has done much to spread the message of RWH. [CSE has deservedly been given the Stockholm Water Prize].
All it takes to solve the water problem are a few high profile examples,usable information and some familiar hardware. Gopinath installed a scheme at Rashtrapati Bhawan. ITC Hotels have installed them in all their hotel buildings. These are stand-out examples that convince individuals to put their money and labour into micro efforts. No subsidy needs to be given, no policing needs to be done and most relevantly, no grandiose schemes like river water linking need to be planned.
The evil of such a massive scheme is not that it is an economic, environmental, political and technological disaster in the making. It is all that— but more sadly, it sucks out people's initiatives and makes them wait in expectation. It sets in motion profiteers to control and trade water. Already, bottled water has been made available in the remotest villages if one is willing to pay a price higher than that for milk. A new generation has forgotten that water is nature's gift for us to receive and cherish.
No one dreams of centrally generating solar power and wheeling it around. It is effective only when used where it falls, for cooking, heating, small scale power etc. Why then this eagerness to meddle with rivers using dams, pumps and pipes?
Shamji Jadhavbhai Antala now 63, is a minimally educated farmer of Rajkot,Gujarat. His Saurashtra Lok Manch Trust is credited with having revived, using simple RWH solutions, 300,000 dead open wells and a million bore-wells across Gujarat. His work to provide water covers a greater population than the monstrous Sardar Sarovar Dam which will serve just 10% of Gujaratis. Clearly, millions have to find their water locally- not have it piped from afar.
Whether or not small is beautiful, where nature's dispersed resources are concerned, it is the only approach that can reach everyone and provide lasting solutions.