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Golegaon: Overcoming the Adversary Within

Rising to daunting challenges, Golegaon village in Khultabad taluka, Maharashtra, put in a good performance in the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup 2017. The village ranked among the top 12 villages in the Water Cup, and first in its taluka. This is the story of its victory over massive obstacles.

Golegaon’s Water Cup achievement is not its first. It has a good name in its region for being conflict-free, corruption-free, and having good roads. But there is a blemish in this pretty picture. Golegaon suffers from water scarcity. It depends on water tankers from January to July.

 

The village is situated at the base of a mountain, an important natural resource which belongs to it. But mismanagement has ruined this natural resource- the mountain has few trees, and consequently it has suffered from soil erosion. Its black rock lies exposed to view. Thankfully, the villagers understood the situation, and decided to implement watershed development measures on the mountain, although they had neither the expertise nor sense of direction required. The village registered for the Water Cup 2017.

Initially, the villagers were enthused by the prospect of competing in the Water Cup. This enthusiasm evaporated quickly. For it was during this time that the elections for the Panchayat Samiti and Zilla Parishad were declared. The villagers were engrossed in the narrative of the elections, and as a result, the work of watershed development slowed down. Four of the five people who were supposed to attend the training in the run-up to the competition backed out. The Gram Sabha chose five other people and sent them for training with a lot of fanfare. The trainees returned to the village with a changed outlook about and renewed enthusiasm for water conservation work.

Finally, the elections concluded, and the villagers returned to the Water Cup effort. Large numbers of villagers turned up for shramdaan, and they were not alone. The Bhartiya Jain Sanghatana sent 650 children for shramdaan as well. These children were the sons and daughters of farmers who had committed suicide, and the children did shramdaan so nobody else would be forced to end his life because of agricultural distress. For 43 days, the presence of the children took morale sky-high in the village. Everyone worked meticulously and in a scientific manner.

Just when all was going well, another obstacle reared up. This was a lack of enthusiasm. Where, initially, 500 to 700 people were doing shramdaan, only 150-200 began to turn up. Moreover, 71 girls and 8 women who were active in shramdaan had to go to Shirdi for a capacity-building camp. This, too, affected the turnout for shramdaan. This is when the village Sarpanch Santosh Joshi stepped in to salvage the situation. Joshi began to forego one meal a day to awaken the conscience of the village, and it worked. During this period, the women and girls returned from the Shirdi camp. They went from home to home and requested people to resume shramdaan.

As a result of these efforts, the villagers began to work in earnest and in large numbers again. And the results are there to see.

Read an article about this village’s story (in Marathi) here.

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Anbhulewadi, the Never-Say-Die Village

If Maharashtra’s Man taluka is compared to a human face, then Anbhulewadi village would be the bindi on its forehead. Anbhulewadi is small, and yet the village stood first at the taluka level in the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup 2017. This village owes its strong performance to the local college professor, Sampat Ingale.

Ingale, whose village of origin is Anbhulewadi, lived in Mumbai for many years. There he taught Zoology at the Jhunjhunwala College, Ghatkopar. Ingale would visit his village during vacations. After a career spanning 38 years, Ingale took retirement and returned to his village. He was gripped by the passion to contribute towards the development of the village. This made the mild-mannered Ingale perform acts of courage. For the Water Cup work, he even blocked a car that was carrying the powerful politician, Sharad Pawar. Ingale still can’t believe what he did.

When Anbhulewadi joined the Water Cup 2017, Ingale spearheaded its efforts for watershed development. He says, “People such as myself, who studied a bit more than others, left the village and made better lives for ourselves, but it is high time now to develop the village. I felt it necessary to return for the sake of my people.” He adds, “Our village is perched atop a mountain, which makes it extra challenging to implement watershed development work here. Moreover, we had no idea it would cost so much. All the villagers were ready to offer shramdaan, but the money problem needed to be tackled urgently.” A Gram Sabha meeting was held and a donation drive organised, yet the money collected was insufficient to hire a machine for the work. So Ingale wrote a four-page letter to his contacts in Mumbai, in which he asked them to contribute towards the development of his village. In this way the village raised 7 to 8 lakh rupees.

The obstacle proved much larger, though. Ingale says, “The Commissioner of the Konkan Division, Prabhakar Deshmukh, came to see our work. He gauged the extent of remaining work and estimated that it would require 20-22 lakh rupees in all. We heard his words and promptly lost heart. Seeing us crestfallen, Deshmukh offered us Rs 4 lakh and boosted our morale.” The villagers resolved that they would keep raising funds as needed by any way possible, but would not let the work slacken. They kept toiling in the watershed area outside their village.

One day, there was a knock on Ingale’s door. Rajendra, a fellow villager, and his friends, stood outside. “Sir, we must block the path on which Sharad Pawar’s car is traveling,” they said. The thought that blocking a politician’s car was not for him did not even cross Ingale’s mind. He got ready and left.

Sharad Pawar was on the route from Baramati to Bidal in order to inspect some public project. Anbhulewadi lies on the way. So Ingale hurriedly wrote a petition to Pawar on a piece of paper, and he and the others waited by the roadside. After a while, they saw a convoy of vehicles approach them. They waved and the convoy stopped. They gave the petition to Pawar and explained their problem to him in brief. Then the convoy rolled on towards Bidal.

That very evening, they learned that Pawar had sanctioned Rs 5 lakh for their Water Cup work. The other morning, they got a phone call from Pawar’s associate, who told them that other villages had asked for financial aid, too; Anbhulewadi would now be getting Rs 2 lakh. “For us, 2 lakh was a lot,” Ingale says with a smile.

And that is how Anbhulewadi achieved its Water Cup goals and stood first in the whole taluka.

Read an article about this village’s story (in Marathi) here.

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Sherewadi – Truly a Village of Lions!

Among all the villages in the taluka of Atpadi, which took part in the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup 2017, Sherewadi stood first. This village has made great strides towards becoming free from drought despite the presence of massive obstacles. Its good work prompts us to give it the nickname of Sheron ki Wadi, or Village of Lions!

You might be surprised to hear that Sherewadi entered the Water Cup 2017 without any of the crucial inputs required for watershed development: volunteers, land and funds. Five people from Sherewadi spearheaded the whole village’s Water Cup effort.


Lacking Manpower
Sherewadi is a hamlet of 50 homes that shelter 310 folk. Half of these have shifted to cities to earn a living. So, the village lacked the manpower needed to make a credible showing in the Water Cup. A forty-year-old farmer Sudhir Borade, a resident of the village, shared this problem with the local Zilla Parishad chairman Amar Deshmukh, who was also trustee of the Babasaheb Deshmukh college in Atpadi taluka. Amar Deshmukh then discussed Sherewadi’s problem with his college professors. Fifteen of them agreed to do shramdaan for Sherewadi, and this, despite the fact that examinations were near. For all 45 days of the competition, these professors would show up at the village on their motorbikes and, having worked from 6 am to 8 am, would leave to administer exams in the afternoon.


Sherewadi resident Chandrakant Borade, who had undergone training on watershed development organised by Paani Foundation, visited neighbouring villages and appealed to them for help. As a result, outsiders joined the village’s Water Cup effort. Moreover, many local politicians celebrated their birthdays by bringing their followers to the village for shramdaan. Says Sudhir Borade, “Many helping hands came our way from villages and cities. That is why we could complete our shramdaan target.”

Land Problems
For many years now, Sherewadi has been plagued by erosion of the soil. Agriculture is a challenge on the rocky land. To dig the land is to break the rock. That is why each volunteer who did shramdaan had to work extra hard to dig continuous contour trenches (CCTs) and deep CCTs. Yet Sherewadi’s team put in mountains of work to meet its Water Cup target. The team dug in its heels, much like the few trees that had sent roots deep into the soil and were clinging on to a precarious existence. Eventually, the team prevailed.


Lack of Funds
It may be possible to rustle up a team from somewhere for shramdaan, but the matter of funds is complicated. Renting machines needed to build the watershed structures would, of course, cost money, which was scarce in this village of farmers living hand-to-mouth lives. People contributed what they could, which sometimes was as little as five rupees. People who had migrated out of the village, too, donated to the cause. The village managed to collect Rs 1.25 lakh rupees- this was enough to run a poclain machine for a week. After a week, the money ran out.Just then, the Babasaheb Deshmukh bank in Atpadi donated a lakh rupees to the Water Cup effort. A kind man donated his machine for 300 hours. The money was spent in buying fuel for the machine. The villagers had collected Rs 70,000 with which to build a temple in the village. They consented to use the money for watershed development instead, which was more important than the temple. This money ran the machine for four days, after which the village was back in its familiar predicament. Now what would they do? They could not back down after having come so far.

That is when Chandrakant and Sudhir Borade went to the taluka centre and solicited donations from local shops, medical stores, garages, colleges and families. They went around the place, telling their story of struggles and hope. Many people gave small donations of 50 to 100 rupees. In this way, the Borades managed to collect Rs 50,000. The money kept the machine running for a few days more. In the last stages of the work, the government announced that it would be supplying diesel for the machine, and the villagers grew relieved.

In this way, they surmounted several obstacles to do their very best for the Water Cup 2017. Says village resident Tukaram Irkar, 60, “We did not understand watershed development or anything. We did not know why we were facing drought despite the fact that it would rain each year. The state’s agricultural department had built a dam on the stream, and we did not care about it. We thought, let them do what they want. We did not know where these kids got money from, fuel from, where they got so many digging tools from. All we knew was to toil. Today, though, we are happy that we are getting the fruits of our labour.”

Read an article about this village’s story (in Marathi) here.

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Passion and Dedication Help Gavhankund Soar

Some things are hard to get, and even harder to keep. The Satyamev Jayate Water Cup 2016 featured Gavhankund village in the Vidarbha region among the top ten villages for watershed development. Gavhankund maintained its momentum, kept its watershed development and conservation initiatives alive, and was the joint winner of the ‘Satatya Spardha’ (Consistency Award) in 2017.

Manish Kavade is one of the people who led the villagers to success in the 2017 Water Cup. Manish had assumed the leadership of the village’s effort in the 2016 Water Cup as well. In 2017, though, Manish was appointed the Centre Manager of the training centre that was set up in the village by Paani Foundation. One day, while discharging his duties, Manish was traveling to the taluka centre when his vehicle crashed. As a result, Manish sustained severe injuries to his face. He had to undergo surgery. After the surgery, his doctors advised him to take rest.

When he got back from the hospital, Manish found it unbearable to sit at home. He tried to rejoin the training centre. But his fellow villagers forced him to go back home and take rest.
Manish learned, however, that his village had joined the Consistency Competition 2017, which was part of the Water Cup. He joined the team that was taking part in the competition and was focussing on water and soil conservation. Manish assumed leadership of that team. Because of his guidance, all the development activities in the open land around the village were conducted well. The village salutes his immense drive and dedication.

Another ‘water hero’ from Gavhankund is Babita Gadling! Babita, who works as a tailor, is the sole earner for her family, which comprises two daughters. Babita’s husband passed away last year. After his death, she came back to her parents’ village, Gavhankund. Here, she joined the village’s Water Cup initiative of 2016, and took training imparted by Paani Foundation. She was so inspired by the training that she got her daughters and her sister’s children involved in the initiative as well.Nor did she stop when the 2016 Water Cup was over. She also joined the Water Cup efforts this year and helped make the area around her village abundant with water as well. Taking inspiration from Babita, her daughters Rashmi and Palak helped rally the villagers round for the Water Cup efforts. They went from house to house and convinced the villagers about the importance of making a water budget and testing the soil. This was a task that needed to be done urgently. Although the village has a population of 1,825, only around 50 people showed up at the Gram Sabha meetings. Seeing this, the girls formed a group that went house to house at night, when everyone was at home. They raised public awareness about water conservation in the village.

Moreover, Gavhankund is fortunate in that its youth are active in watershed development. Twenty one young people from the village have formed a team that takes care of water conservation initiatives. Gavhankund is a good example of all that can be achieved through united action, scientific management and dedication.

Read an article about this village’s story (in Marathi) here.

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The Inspiring Story of Pawarwadi Village

Pawarwadi village in Koregaon taluka of Maharashtra stood first in the Water Cup 2017 among all the villages in its taluka. The villagers have not rested on their laurels, however, and have decided to implement rainwater harvesting in the whole village.

Pawarwadi is a developed village. It has good roads, agriculture, basic infrastructure and educational facilities. It had just one problem, however. Its groundwater level was so low that its wells were falling dry one by one. Every farmer dug borewells in his field, but it didn’t work. And so the village joined the Water Cup 2017, and everyone worked enthusiastically to banish drought. For instance: the village has a fair each year. It is customary for the village women to cook for the fair. This year, they refused to do this chore. “We said, use the money for the Water Cup instead,” says Babai Godse, 62, who is a member of the Pawarwadi Gram Panchayat (village council). That is exactly what the village did.

Besides doing a good job in the competition, the village has successfully implemented rainwater harvesting in every house. Rainwater which falls on the roofs is collected for every structure, be it a house, a school, the Gram Panchayat office, or a clinic. And people in the village are particular about saving water whenever possible.
The villagers also implemented innovative means of water conservation. One of these means was the ‘Tyre Dam’. Taking inspiration from social reformer Dr. Vikas Amte, the villagers collected nearly 400 tyres and used them to build a dam. They accomplished this task in a single day. Their efforts were rewarded by the rains- their ‘Tyre Dam’ brimmed over after the very first shower.
The youths of the village even went one step forward. The son of Sarpanch Rajendra Pawar and his friends worked on a project to recycle and reclaim the wastewater discharged by industrial units. Their project won them a district-level prize. It is heartening to see that the new generation is thinking of massive changes in the way we use water. Rajendra Pawar says, “The Water Cup is over this year, but we are just getting started on conserving water and improving our groundwater levels. Each year henceforth, we will, of our own accord, do shramdaan and finish the remaining watershed development tasks.”

Read an article about this village’s story (in Marathi) here.

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Jaigaon Reaps Benefits of Consistency in Watershed Development

The Maharashtrian village of Jaigaon won the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup 2016. Instead of resting on its laurels, it entered the 2017 competition with zeal, and did good work in watershed development again. That is why the village won the ‘Satatya Puraskar’ (Consistency Award) this year. To those who know the village, this achievement comes as no surprise.

In 1970, for instance, the village had no road connecting it to the larger world. People either took rides in bullock carts or walked. And so the villagers went to the government-owned State Transport undertaking, and requested it to extend its bus service to the village.

The State Transport officers said, “But there is no road to your village. How, then, can our buses reach you?” And so the villagers got together, and came up with a solution. In the crackling heat of March, every man in the village worked for free and built a 5-km kaccha road. Sure enough, the first bus to Jaigaon arrived on 23rd March 1970. The whole village turned up to witness this wonderful sight. Seen in the light of this history, the village’s achievement in the Water Cup 2017 makes perfect sense.

Fast forward to 2016, when the village joined the Water Cup competition’s first edition. Most remarkably, it was two young girls, the sisters Aarti (who studied in Class 8) and Pooja Sakpal (Class 10) who identified the spots where watershed development work could be conducted. They drew a topographical map of the village and its surroundings, using which the villagers devised their strategy for watershed development. Aarti said, “Our school had organised a drawing competition. It involved drawing a map of our surroundings. It occurred to me that we would need such a map to tell us where to do watershed treatments. And so we schoolgirls made observations of our surroundings and drew this map.”

In 2017, too, girls, women, and young men joined the Water Cup effort enthusiastically. The volunteers worked together to do the work that they could not do in 2016. For instance, they could not dig soak pits in 2016. Says Jaigaon’s Deputy Sarpanch, Nathabhau Shinde, “The Water Cup competition emphasised digging soak pits so that wastewater from the houses could be absorbed into the soil. But our village is in rocky terrain. We found a rocky layer barely two feet from the surface of the soil. So, we were unable to complete our soak pits. That is why we slipped to second place in the 2016 Water Cup. When we took part in the Consistency Competition in 2017, we came up with the idea to dig a ‘soak gutter’ instead of soak pits. We dug a gutter along the houses in the village, and filled it up with stones. All the wastewater from homes goes into this gutter and seeps into the ground.”

The village is reaping the rewards of its efforts. Though the rains have disappointed in this year and the last one, the wells in the village are brimming over. Jaigaon’s achievements in watershed development are so well-known now, that people from the neighbouring Karnataka state have come over to study them.

The abundance of water changed villagers’ lives. In 2015-16, Sanjay Sakpal dug 11 borewells in a search for water, which proved futile. All the borewells were dry. Sanjay attended the four-day residential training on water conservation organised by Paani Foundation, and understood the issues with borewells. He resolved to dig no more borewells, and proposed that no one should do so henceforth either.

Now, the village has resolved to join the Water Cup’s 2018 Consistency Competition, and complete a hat-trick of awards.

Read an article about this village’s story (in Marathi) here.

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Kankatrewadi, A Little Village with a Big Achievement

Atpadi taluka co-ordinator for Water Cup 2017, Satyawan Deshmukh wrote this piece about Kankatrewadi village, a little village with a big achievement.

You would be wholly right to say that the village of Kankatrewadi in the Atpadi taluka of Maharashtra state is quite an unknown place. Many folk in Atpadi taluka itself are unaware of the village’s existence. But if this village has become somewhat better-known today, that is because of the Water Cup 2017 competition. The village placed among the top 12 performers of the Water Cup 2017.

This village faces year-round drought and is dependent on water tankers provided by the government. The State Transport buses do not ply to this village. One either needs one’s own two-wheeler or a strong pair of legs to get anywhere. The absence of infrastructure in the village has given rise to an exodus out of the village- over half its residents have gone to cities for their livelihood.

The people who stayed on were not willing to go out of the village for the four-day training programme organised by Paani Foundation. Finally, Rozgar Sevak Arvind Suryawanshi convinced two village residents, Swati Arjun and Ujjwala Tanpure to take the training. Having returned from the training, they set to work as though possessed for the 45 days of the Water Cup. On May 1, which was Labour Day, people from cities helped them with shramdaan.
Kankatrewadi village is composed of three smaller settlements- Tanpherwadi, Ghulewadi, and Kankatrewadi. These settlements have certain internal differences. They set aside these differences for the Water Cup. The villagers have developed affection for the watershed structures that they have built with their own hands; they have named these structures after movies, movie characters or songs, such as Katappa, Baahubali, Sairat and Zingat!

And the first showers rewarded their unity and hard work, when the watershed structures stored water as expected.
It’s a big triumph, and more importantly, a potentially life-changing development.

Read an article about this village’s story (in Marathi) here.

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Jitapur: Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

Jitapur village, located in the drought-prone region of Vidarbha in Maharashtra state, entered the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup 2017 along with thousands of other villages. The village did such a stellar job that it managed to stand first among the other villages from Akot taluka in the competition.

Even before it joined the competition, Jitapur decided to ban the consumption and sale of alcohol in the village limits. It took this decision to ensure maximum productivity during the Water Cup. The local tehsildar Vishwanath Ghuge rallied the villagers like troops for the purpose of shramdaan.

Yet there were huge obstacles in the path to freedom from drought. The village lacked basic shovels and other digging equipment. Nor was there a tractor in the whole village. Most of the villagers subsisted on daily wage labour, and could not contribute money towards the Water Cup effort. So the local talathi, Kishor Solkar, donated a month’s salary to the village.

During the Water Cup, actress Anita Date visited the village. She was so impressed with the villagers’ efforts in the face of these obstacles, that she returned to Mumbai with the intention to help them out. In Mumbai, she managed to raise Rs. 55,000 from NGOs for the village.

Some families in the village decided to skip work for 45 days so they could do free labour for the Water Cup, and even went down to one meal a day.

We at Paani Foundation salute the indomitable spirit of residents of Jitapur and find ourselves humbled to hear their story of determination.

Read an article about this village’s story (in Marathi) here.

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People Power: How Yelmarwadi Built Its Watershed Structures

When the rains came to the village of Yelmarwadi in the Khatav taluka of Maharashtra, and its Water Cup volunteers went to see the fruits of their labours, they were in for a shock. The rainwater was flowing away from their percolation tank (paazar talav). It was necessary to make the water flow towards their tank or their efforts could go waste, and drought could return after the rains.

Two of the youth promptly lay in the path of the flowing water, thus making a ‘human dam’. Others rushed to gather rocks and pile them up in the path of the water to block its way.

Yelmarwadi is a small village of some 500 people. But it often happens that the smallest of places yields the most inspiring stories. One of the men who rekindled hope for a better future in the minds of the villagers is Prasad Bagal, who serves as the Sarpanch of Yelmarwadi. He is all of 27 years old, and knows the government schemes that can be availed by his village. This knowledge came in handy when his village entered the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup 2017. Bagal made sure that the government’s employment guarantee scheme paid for the labour contributed by his people to dig continuous contour trenches, deep continuous contour trenches, etc. for the Water Cup. He managed to get Rs 23 lakhs approved through the employment guarantee scheme.

His fellow villagers grew enthused, and gave their all to the Water Cup effort. Especially the young men of the village, who would often spend nights out in the open after a hard day’s work. Youth who had turned to addiction also saw a ray of hope and joined the initiative.

Today, the percolation tank at drought-hit Yelmarwadi isfull. It is the first water body that many young children in the village have ever seen. For the first time in many years, water birds have returned to the village, and swim about in the tank. Peacocks and rabbits are seen in the shrubland surrounding the village. It’s a story of rejuvenation and determination.

Read an article about this village’s story (in Marathi) here.

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Palaskheda Village: Epitome of United Effort

Palaskheda village in Maharashtra’s Marathwada region was so motivated by the work done by neighbouring villages during the Water Cup 2016, that it implemented watershed development measures in its area despite not having taken part in the competition. 

Palaskheda officially entered this year’s Water Cup, and we’re pleased to tell you that it achieved third place at the topmost level. In hindsight, this makes perfect sense, because last year itself, the village had demonstrated a high level of commitment. Results that were obtained from the work done last year motivated the villagers to give their all for this year’s competition. And how. In the last seven days of the competition, the village would fall empty during times of shramdaan, and a visitor to the village might well think that the village had been abandoned. Because each and every villager did shramdaan.

Through shramdaan, the villagers mended the dam which had been leaking for 40 years. The villagers did this feat at a cost of Rs. 40,000; it would have cost a lakh rupees without shramdaan. The villagers themselves bore the cost of repairs, through public contributions.

Among the committed volunteers in the village is Trimbak Shankar Chavan. The village calls him Jija. Seventy-year-old Jija may be the youngest one at heart in the village! During the competition, he would work on his own agricultural plot at dawn, after which he’d wake up his fellow villagers for shramdaan. He did not miss a single day of shramdaan. Jija proved to be a source of inspiration for the villagers, who responded enthusiastically to his call for shramdaan.
Jija also rallied elderly villagers to the cause of the Water Cup. Many of these senior citizens could not even walk properly. Motivated by Jija, however, they did shramdaan. The physical work did many of them good; after 45 days of shramdaan, they said they had no need of walking sticks. The villagers also had help from the agricultural department of the state government.

Palaskheda has 50-60 families that are landless and are from ‘backward castes’. Not only did they do shramdaan like the others, but they also cooked for the whole village. They also contributed to the public donation drive that was organised to fund the Water Cup effort. Prasad, who hails from one of these families, says, “Though we have no land, this is still our village. If there is no water, the farmer will grow nothing and we will have nothing to eat. That is why we joined this invaluable effort, and will continue to do so.”
By securing third place in the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup 2017, Palaskheda added yet another feather to its cap. This village, which for many years has been known for being conflict-free, free of open drains, free of mosquitoes, and free of addiction, is making strides towards becoming free from drought as well.

Read an article about this village’s story (in Marathi) here.

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Reformist Village Stands Third in Water Cup 2017

Bidal village in Satara district of Maharashtra is the fount of many a reformist initiative. The village has set aside its differences to elect a Sarpanch (village chieftain) unopposed every time for the past 50 years. It has been electing women and people from scheduled castes to the position even before reservations came in. And this village won the trophy for the third position in this year’s Water Cup.

This village, which is the biggest one in Satara district, has 6,000 residents. One of them is Chandubhai, whom everyone knows as Dange Chacha. He is a retired technician with the Indian Air Force. He gave his all to the Water Cup just like he did to the Air Force. He celebrated Eid by taking part in the watershed development activities being conducted in his village, and his wife Zubeida wholeheartedly supported his decision.

Pushpanjali works as the ASHA worker for the village. She attended the training on watershed development organized by Paani Foundation. After the training, she spent a month in convincing the village women how important water conservation was. She gave the women a demonstration of how much water evaporates if left uncovered in the open. As a result, the women became more mindful in their use of water. And they became more receptive and enthusiastic about the watershed development work was undertaken as part of the Water Cup, to the extent that they joined the shramdaan themselves.

Read an article about this village’s story (in Marathi) here.

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Bhosare Village: Glorious Past Fuels Present Achievement

Bhosare village is the place of origin of Prataprao Gujar, the general of King Shivaji’s army. And the present-day inhabitants of the village are proud of this fact. It may be right to say that the general’s daring and can-do attitude has percolated down to the current lot of villagers. Perhaps that is why the village got second place in the Water Cup 2017 competition.

Its glorious past notwithstanding, the village has been facing a grim present. It is held fast in the jaws of drought. The dry condition persisted since 2006, leaving farmland barren and useless. In an effort to feed themselves, many farmers became painters. Many left the village and sought a daily living in Mumbai, Pune, Gujarat and other places. Many young people from Bhosare, who were making a living in cities, were saddened to see how the village women laboured to fetch water from afar. The young people wanted to bring the village out of the dry spell. But they did not know how.

The village entered the Water Cup competition, and the villagers began to dream of a way out of their predicament at last. And the great general’s descendant, Vishwas Gujar, assumed leadership of the campaign to defeat the drought. The whole village rallied around him.

Vishwas Gujar serves as tehsildar in Mumbai city. He returned to the village and stayed there for all 45 days of competition. Along with the five people from Bhosare who had been trained in watershed development by Paani Foundation, Gujar surveyed the open land around the village. They collectively came up with a plan to develop the watershed around the village.
The villagers built 450 NADEP structures in all agricultural plots in the village. Each farmer was given the responsibility to take care of the structures in his field. The Rs 30 lakh amassed during the Maruti rath yatra in the village was also put to use in watershed development. When the money ran out, the villagers took a loan of Rs 40 lakh, so that work could continue uninterrupted.

Before the competition, the villagers called a Gram Sabha. For the first time, all the women were invited to the meeting. “Women began attending the Gram Sabha meetings for the first time,” says Sushila Sature, a resident of the village. The reason, she says, is that women saw a chance to improve their lives and reduce their suffering. She says, “We would have to go 18 km to get water. There would be quarrels when the water tanker came. If there was a ceremony or function in a particular house, the woman of the house would worry about the availability of water. Now, however, things are improving.” And so, with the hope that their grandchildren wouldn’t have to face drought, even senior citizens in the village offered shramdaan to build the watershed structures.
“I have inherited farmland, but ever since the dry days began in 2006, I have sunk deep in debt. Unable to make a living as a farmer, I had to resume my legal practice after a gap of 17 years,” says Ankur Jadhav, 45. But such gloomy broodings vanished once the whole village came together for shramdaan for the Water Cup 2017. The young people who fell prey to substance abuse because of unemployment found a new direction in life. People like Mohan Sature, Arjun Jadhav, Nitin Jadhav, Sahebrao Kanvalu, and others, have drawn up various schemes for the development of the village. In this way, the villagers would remove the tag of ‘drought-prone village’ from the name of Bhosare.

Read an article about this village’s story (in Marathi) here.

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How United Effort Helped Kakaddara Win the Water Cup

The small village of Kakaddara in drought-prone Vidarbha region of Maharashtra state won the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup 2017. It was the first taste of glory for this small village. On this occasion, we thought we’d tell you a bit about it.

The first thing is that the village has seen watershed development work since 1987; but the work stalled or was left incomplete for various reasons. So, when the Water Cup 2017 was announced, the village decided that it wanted to take part in the competition.
“Only three people from our village could take part in the training (for the Water Cup). But we saw the Chaturrao and Chaturatai (informational) videos on the LCD screen in our school. That helped us a lot,” says Daulatbhau, who is the sole degree holder in the village.

Another factor that contributed to the village’s success in the Water Cup is the participation of women. Many in the village say that they would not have succeeded were it not for help from women. Even women who have not seen the inside of a school became well-informed about watershed development.

Many men and women in the village turned out to be extremely good in building watershed structures. They toiled in the 45-46 degree heat until all the work was done. When the stones they were lifting became too hot in the burning heat of the day, villager Sunitabai suggested that the volunteers wrap their hands in pieces of cloth and continue working. This they did.

What is remarkable is that despite these adverse weather conditions, the villagers did such a good job in building 90 loose boulder structures. In fact, when Water Cup judge Mr. Popatrao Pawar saw their work, he said, “I have not seen such good-quality LBS in Maharashtra before.”

The village gives a few people special credit for its success. One of these people is Vikas Watkar, the principal of the local school. He contributed to the village’s Water Cup effort through spreading knowledge and through shramdaan.
Another man is Kunal Pardeshi, who is an engineer by training. He is based in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra. He wanted to apply his skills in improving people’s lives, and came to Kakaddara. He stayed in the village for a month, and contributed his labour for its welfare. He says, “Those days were remarkable and unforgettable. Without a pause, everyone worked for 45 days. The people of Kakaddara are so straightforward that to see them is to have a vision of humanity.”

Kakaddara has 376 residents. It is small by any standard, especially in a densely populated country such as India. Yet its people, by dint of united effort and well-directed labour, won the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup 2017. More importantly, they did not work for the prize. They worked to banish drought from the village. And they have taken a huge step towards their goal.

Read an article about this village’s story (in Marathi) here.

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Yelda Village: A Sprig of Hope Sprouts

Dry fingers of drought left marks on the lives of the people living in the Yelda village of the Ambajogai taluka in Maharashtra state. Agriculture is ill in the village. Because of lack of water, farmers and those in the livestock business had to sell off their animals as they could not feed them. As the land became parched and fell into disuse, the youth became unemployed and fell prey to addictions. Fights broke out and serious crimes soared in number. In particular, the year 2012 was especially bad. That year, 399 serious crimes were reported at the Ambajogai rural police station. The bad blood in the village threatened to spill out on the streets.

The village saw a murder or two each year, over small things such as objection over the construction of a bandh. The village was totally disunited. Even government officials hesitated to accept a posting that included jurisdiction over this village. Come December, and most able-bodied folk in the village would go to Western Maharashtra or Karnataka to work on sugarcane fields.

And girls from other villages would hesitate to marry youth from Yelda. The girls would not like the idea of walking for miles to fetch water. Thus, drought affected every aspect of life in Yelda.

Fed up, the villagers joined the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup 2017 and tried to change their grim reality. For 45 days, they offered shramdaan in their area. Here is their story, told in cinematic style (Marathi text) by Pratap Salve, Paani Foundation’s taluka co-ordinator for Ambajogai.

Read an article about this village’s story (in Marathi) here.

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