Paani Foundation - An Initiative By Satyamev Jayate
8 PE Category: Respecting Nature and Environment
Sub-Category: Water Conservation
Written By: Samrudhi Patil, First Year, Fergusson College
Water is important for livelihood in a Man’s life. Around 71 % of Earth is covered with water, 97 % consists of oceans and seas, which means that only 3 % of water can be directly used for drinking. Out of that 3 %, 69 %comes from glaciers, 30 % is underground and the rest 1 % is lakes, rivers and swamps.
In the recent years, water is being used to a great extent such that the groundwater levels are falling. There have been droughts in many villages, especially in a rich state like Maharashtra. 60% of its villages were declared to be in ‘drought-like’ conditions in the year 2015 by the state government. This resulted in less yielded crop of the year which was not be abundant for the people and which was predicted to go on decreasing if effective measures were not taken soon. The problem of drought was not just because of natural conditions but also because of the Man-made changes in nature. Paani Foundation, an initiative by the team of Satyamev Jayate, was founded to change this situation and encourage people from the villages of Maharashtra to toil hard to create storage for the rainwater which can be used in daily life for washing, cooking, agricultural purposes, etc.
Paani Foundation started in the year 2016. The project was to first provide knowledge about the reason as to why this Foundation came into being, and then the villagers would be given training as well as equipment for watershed management. A competition called Satyamev Jayate Water Cup was held among the various villages and the winner for the village for the best watershed management was given at the end. This started only in 3 areas in Maharashtra (Marathwada, Vidarbha and Western Maharashtra) in 3 talukas first, namely, Beed, Amravati and Satara. The competition was open for all villages for active participation. In the first year around 116 villages took part and about 850 villagers were given the training. Water Cup 2016 was a great success seeing 10,000 people volunteered for this great cause and around 1,368 crore litres of water storage capacity was created in just 45 days whose value today is about 272 crores annually. The people who volunteered were not only the villagers but people from different walks and sectors of life took this Shramdaan (volunteering) to their heart and worked together.
After this big success in the first year itself, the scale of villages was shifted up by 3 times in 2017. Around 30 talukas were chosen in the same 3 regions. For such a big crowd, it was impossible to inform regarding the training through oral medium. To overcome this problem, the team recorded everything in the Marathi language so that the villagers could understand easily as to why this was being done. 20 videos giving information about the Water Cup were recorded and thus, the result was better than the first year. Around 6,000 people were trained and approximately 65,000 people volunteered. The water storage capacity was measured to be 8,261 crore litres. In 2018, 75 talukas were invited which now included North Maharashtra as well and more than 20,000 villagers were trained. The number of people volunteering was more than 1,50,000 and the storage capacity of water was increased to 22,269 crore litres. In 2019, the water storage capacity built by 1,75,000 people in 76 talukas was 23,213 crore litres.
This competition starts in late March or early April and is finished by late May or early June. The competition is for about 45 days among a number of villages to see who creates the maximum water storage capacity. In simpler words, it is a contest to build storages to conserve rainwater which should be finished before the monsoons begin. So that after the rain falls, water can be collected in the storages the people have created, thus, saving water for future purposes. There is an app of Paani Foundation which has videos for training, data entry of the villages working, how much work they’ve completed and other features as well. You can even follow their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages to stay updated. One can participate as a village or can volunteer for the upcoming Water Cup 2020.
This initiative has given hope for almost the entire Maharashtra that if we work together, we can bring a change. The main aim of Paani Foundation is to involve each and every person in this revolution against drought and create enough sources of water for villages such that they won’t have to face water scarcity in the future. Everyone from around the country is well-known with this strategy and young and old, poor and rich all can be seen contributing towards a better future. It is not only creating awareness among people regarding water conservation but working as well to achieve the aim of a drought-free Maharashtra.