A few decades ago, river Nanduwali in Alwar went completely, leaving behind a 12-km trail of what was its bed to be a picture of gross neglect.
But eight years ago, the dogged determination of a bunch of villages bore fruit Nanduwali came to life again. “What we did was to evolve a consensus to not cut a single tree and focus on forest, land, water and livestock along within the community,” says Farhad Contractor, who was instrumental in reviving the Nanduwali.
“I realised there is a huge difference between working for the community and working with the community.”
It all started from Barmer around early 1990s:
Smile Fellowship gave him an opportunity to spend time in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. “But desert always fascinated me, so I chose Jaisalmer,” the 42-year-old says.
So when he chose his arena of work, Bakasar – a place that would run out of water and fodder leading to as much as 70% migration – became the natural choice. Contractor helped the villagers revive almost 120 beri-s and later also facilitated 400-odd new ones. Now there is no migration, not for lack of water at least.
Today, with six other people, he has a registered a trust ‘Sambhaav’ with about Rs. 40-50 lakh annual budget.
“Money cannot build ponds, lakes and kui-s but with the participation of the community. Do we need to survey our homes, our area? It is the community from that area, which will need to take charge of its own water,” says Contractor.