As the state reels under a severe water crisis, the city’s college students are exploring ways to conserve water. They are chalking out and implementing water conservation programmes in their own campuses and in drought-hit villages.
Yogita Jadhav, a student from St Paul’s College in Ulhasnagar, had often heard the slogan ‘Pani adwa pani jirwa (Obstruct the water, absorb the water)’, but she understood what it meant only when she saw it in action at a village in Murbad taluka in Thane. The National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteer was a part of a team of students who recently built check dams in the village.
“When we first visited the village, the water stream had dried up. With the help of villagers we erected five check dams - small, temporary installations made up of sacks filled with rubble - to accumulate the little water flowing in the stream,” she said. Within a day, the water level rose from 2mm to 1foot. Soon enough, the reservoir was full of water and the fields had turned green.
In the past few months, over thousand students from around eight colleges in the city and suburbs participated in projects that help the drought-hit tide over the crisis. From building small dams in rural areas to raising awareness about water conservation in the city, they are bringing some respite to a parched state.
Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) faced a water crisis in the campus earlier this year, when Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation cut down the water supply. The borewells in the campus, too, were drying up. “We didn’t have enough water to cook or bathe,” said Sanju Soman, a graduate from TISS.
Soman, with other students, formed a ‘water committee’. “The committee aims to make the campus self-sustainable in terms of water usage. We have started plugging the leaks in the pipes and the institute has started putting in place an infrastructure to tap rain water,” said Soman. The committee also offered tips to save water to students through posters.
A similar initiative was taken up at Don Bosco Institute of Technology in Kurla during Holi. The students raised awareness on water conservation through posters and social media messages.
Royal D’souza, an NSS programme officer and coordinator for colleges between Kurla and Mulund, said, “Students play an important role in raising awareness in the communities. I have asked all the colleges in the region to take up this issue.”
Meanwhile, some students are trying to draw the city’s attention to the problem. Rushabh Mamani, a city college student, has started an online petition to shift Indian Premier League matches out of the state. “It is true that the state will earn some revenue out of these matches but it cannot be at the cost of sufferings of our farmers,” reads the petition. So far, it has garnered more than 19,000 signatures.