A true champion will fight through anything” – Floyd Mayweather Jr
Water crisis in India has picked up pace in the last few years. This will very soon reach alarming levels. As per data released by the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), Government of India think tank has released report ‘Composite Water Management Index ’ in June 2018 and listed Delhi and other 21 cities in India which would run out of groundwater by 2020….yes in the immediate next year.
Official data sources also reveal that today, an alarming 163 million Indians lack access to safe drinking water. So where are we heading to?
Every crisis situation pushes mankind to do a little bit more and we have amongst us our very own, “Water Champions” – who have shown us that with intent anything is possible. These are either a single or a group of people who have come together (worked together) with the single aim of saving water & made it possible.
Below is a brief on how some of our Water Champions have torched a way of out of this gloomy situation :
Waterman of India – Rajendra Singh
Rajendra Singh, is an environmentalist and water conservationalist from Rajasthan. Among various awards he has been awarded the prestigous Stockholm Water Prize that is equivalent to the Noble prize for water in the year 2015.
He has been instrumental in building close to 8600 earthern check dams; also called johads in Rajasthan since the starting of his volunteering career since 1985. These johads today help in providing water to 1000s of villages across Rajasthan.
His biggest achievement is the bringing to life the Arvari river that was long dried for almost 60 years; through construction of johads. He also ensured that mining in adjoing areas of Aravali hills be rationalised as the unattended mining resulted in water being evaporated; that otherwise would contribute to water being collected in the johads.
Today, through his various NGOs and initiatives Rajendra Singh continues to educate and help communities on water conservation techniques that help sustain water.
The “Banzai Plumber” – Aabid Surti
Aabid Surti is not the average 80 year old. He not only a national-award winning author of 80 books, cartoonist and artist, but a living example for the proverb, “Practice what you preach”. His childhood experience of his family not having access to adequate drinking water motivated him to save water. He believed that every drop of water saved matters. Its no surprise that his NGO – Drop Dead Foundation has a motto, “Save every drop or drop dead”. He volunteered to repair leaking taps across Mumbai for free. He is accompanied by a Plumber and a volunteer who tirelessly knock at doors asking residents if they want to get their tap repaired.
He managed to repair 414 leaking taps free of charge and saved about 4.14 lakh litres of water across 1700 houses in Mumbai’s Mira Road within the first year of setting up his NGO. Abid has inspired many Indians to now consciously save water through his work.
The Geeky Teenager – Alison Bick
Alison Bick is the winner of the 2011 Stockholm Junior Water Prize, for inventing a program that analyses the organic and inorganic qualities of water; basis which we can decide if the water is safe for consumption. She came up with this program when her hometown was hit by a storm and she heard on the news that water supplied to homes may be contaminated. Coming from a family that pursues some form of Science, Alison was motivated to come up with some mode of finding out about the water quality. After multiple test runs on her Intel based tablet, she finally came up with this program. The program works very simple as well – we will need to take a picture of the water that is exposed to fluorescent light (or which has been placed inside a special device mixed with chemicals). Alison’s invention/program will then set to work by analysing the quality of water. No extra ordinary camera is required for taking the picture. One can use smart phone/tablet to capture the picture; this is the best part of the program. The World bank has recently approached Alison to be able to use her technology to test water purity in Nigeria. Alison’s achievement is that her work is helping communities globally.
The River flow champion- Dr Jackie King
This winner of the prestigious 2019 Stockholm Water Prize has selflessly worked on creating awareness on the advantages and disadvantages of creating river systems globally. She has helped decision makers with tools & methods that helps them make a well informed decision when creating river systems and dams.
Her most admirable work is the ecosystem models created to demonstrate the ecological and social implications of damming and de-watering rivers. These models and tools have helped decision makers have an objective assessment of the costs of water-resource developments with their corresponding benefits such as hydropower and irrigation to crops.
From 2009 to 2012 she acted as advisor to the Government of Pakistan in a dispute with India over the Kishenganga Dam in the Himalayas, culminating in serving as an expert witness at the International Court of Arbitration at The Hague in August 2012. Notably, Dr King’s early work influenced South Africa’s 1998 National Water Act and is now a dependable guide to governments and institutions across the globe when deciding on river water system & dam creations.
The responsible Teenager- Deepika Kurup
Deepika Kurup visit to India when she was 14, made her realise how majority of people lack access to clean drinking water. The images of children drinking impure water due to access otherwise, pushed her to do something about it and she did!
She was attracted to one of the cheapest method to clean water- the chlorine filtration process but was unhappy that created a harmful by product. She found her, “Eureka moment” when invented a method of purifying water cheaper than chlorination; was more sustainable and importantly did not create any harmful by products.
Her invention uses a Photo catalyst; substance that reacts with the impurities present in water when kept in sunlight to purify water. She claims that her invention destroys approx. 98% of the coliform Bacteria immediately after filtration and the remaining bacteria in the next 15 minutes. This means that water purified through this method can be immediately consumed within 15 minutes after the filtration.
The icing on the cake is that this catalyst can be reused every time as this Photo catalyst does not get used up during the filtration process.
Her invention has brought her the U.S. President’s Environmental Youth Award for year 2017 and lots of other accolades. Deepika is a true inspiration to make a positive difference in other’s lives.
True Champions of water
While the list above contains exceptional people who have spearheaded the cause of Water conservation, this list is only illustrative and not exhaustive. There shall be many more such Champions of Water across the Globe working towards this cause.
However, True Champion of water has to be YOU. Every human being on this Earth is indebted to be prudent with water – using it minimally, wasting less, conserving it, and preserving every drop of it.
Come, let’s be a champion for water!