‘Water Warriors’ creating ripples in Thar Desert - RNews1 Network

‘Water Warriors’ creating ripples in Thar Desert

Jal Yoddha water atm, Water Warriors, Thar, Barmer, Rajasthan, Cairn India, Thar Desert
Barmer : Far from the common perception of residents of a remote village in arid terrain who just complain about scarcity of clean water and scanty rainfall, these groups of villagers like to be identified as ‘water warriors’- Jal Yoddha. A silent revolution is flowing-in into the sandy terrain of the Thar Desert where Village Water Committees are not only providing safe drinking water at the doorstep of villagers but also ensuring proper maintenance and generating awareness about use of clean water.

A sense of satisfaction plays on face of Rekha Ram, the President of one such committee at village Jogasar Kua when he explains the way villagers are joining hands to fight the water scarcity in the village. “Gone are the days when our village women had to walk miles to fetch a pot full of water. Now safe drinking water is getting delivered to the small dhanis too. We are happy to join hand with government and corporate to find a viable solution to a centuries old problem that is availability of drinking water,” he said.

The Kumbha Baba Peyjal Samiti is a registered committee at village Jogasar Kua that is playing a crucial role in a new model of community run RO units to provide drinking water to remotely located habitats. Jeevan Amrit Project is the biggest and first of its kind water initiative where Rajasthan government’s Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED) is working with CSR team of Cairn India- the oil major producing oil in Thar Desert with technical support from Tata Projects and Piramal Foundation.

 “Usually we look at government to do all the things and to bring facilities as a one-sided effort, which is not an ideal way. Here we have taken ownership of the drinking water management and that is the main reason that the Jeevan Amrit Project is going successful,” said Ratna Ram, another water warrior and the President of village Sawau Padam Singh Jal Samiti.

This is a unique example of combining latest technology with corporate funding, community partnership and health based need. Any Time Water plants have been installed with a provision of ATM like card. Hub and spoke model is being utilize to further extend the reach into remote areas. To ensure the quality & quantity of water dispensed through the Reverse Osmosis (RO) based safe drinking water solution, a new technology- “Soochak” has been implemented. Cairn made the concern Sarpanch to contribute in foundation construction to bring in more work ownership.

In first phase of this project, 32 community based RO water plants and 10 Automatic Water Kiosks have been commissioned in villages around Barmer and Jalore’s oil fields. Currently, 80,000 liters of purified RO water is being distributed every day.

“At a nominal charge of INR 5 for doorstep supply of 20 liters RO filtered water, our village committee members are happy that their sale and revenue is witnessing rise, helping us in proper maintenance of water system,” said Mota Ram Treasurer of Kawas village Jal Samiti. Village women are happily participating in this cause. “We are able to save at least two hours of hard work every day as drinking water is being delivered to our house,” said Sharda Devi- a Jal Yoddha of Kawas Jal Samiti.

Under this project, a unique initiative has been launched to utilize vehicles involved in water delivery. Door to door delivery is being done through Jal Raths. Cairn India is utilizing these vehicles to generate awareness about health and hygiene via use of clean drinking water. Going beyond their expected scope of responsibilities, the Jal Samitis are also helping in awareness drive.

Initial figures have impressed the experts. Every Jal Samiti is generating average revenue of INR 7 thousand rupees per week via sale of water. Day to day running and monitoring of the RO plant is being done by Village Water Committees through revenues they earn.

These Jal Yoddhas are touching lives of more than 30 thousand villagers directly. Source water to these RO plants are provided by PHED free of cost. Cairn India is planning to embark on a major initiative to extend the provision of water to households across the district.

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