Jal Sansad: Every drop of water counts

Published on Nov 29, 2006 12:20 AM IST

SOME OF the country?s biggest names in environment conservation descended on the parched Malwa region to disprove the oft-stated assertion that attempts to control water resources would lead to World War III as the inaugural session of the Jal Sansad got underway at Abhay Prashal on Tuesday.

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None | By, Indore

SOME OF the country’s biggest names in environment conservation descended on the parched Malwa region to disprove the oft-stated assertion that attempts to control water resources would lead to World War III as the inaugural session of the Jal Sansad got underway at Abhay Prashal on Tuesday.

“If water runs, make it trickle, where it trickles, make it stand still and in places where it stands still make it percolate to the earth’s womb. Every drop of water should be accounted for, that is the only way for water conservation,” declared ‘rain catcher’ Rajendra Singh.

With this the Magsaysay award winner who, by mobilising communities to rejuvenate their own water resources, has restored to life three dead rivers in Rajasthan’s Alwar district, set the tone for the two-day Sansad organised by the Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad, the tribal wing of the RSS.

From 50-something Jhabua tribal Janu Bilwah to Dhule (Maharashtra) Collector Bhaskar Mondhe, the delegates recounted their water conservation attempts and, based on personal experience, offered suggestions on overcoming paucity of funds, administrative apathy and other obstacles.

As the 125-odd delegates, from as far afield as Trivandrum and Leh, narrated their trysts with conservation one thing became clear - each individual needs to stand up and be counted if surface and subterranean water resources are to be maintained, or, indeed, augmented.

State Planning Board vice-chairman Som Pal admitted as much while summing up the day’s events. “Community management of natural resources is the only way to curb the State’s exploitation of water reserves. Politicians only understand the language of popular mandate. If they feel that the people are wedded to conservation they will not dare to mess with water reserves.” He, however, ended on an ominous note warning the delegates that, “it is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.”

Earlier, Jain seer Soorishwar Ji Maharaj, pramukh acharya of the Shwetamber sect, inaugurated the Sansad by lighting the ceremonial lamp watched by RSS Sarkaryavahak Mohanrao Bhagwat, Rashtriya Swabhiman Andolan leader Govindacharya, Kripa Prasad Singh (co-general secretary, Akhil Bharatiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram) and Madhav Chitale (retired IAS officer and Secretary, Union Water Resources department).

Addressing the delegates after the inauguration, the seer declared that Jianism and Buddhism had a strong conservation ethic that could be emulated by members of other communities. He also called for conservationists to rise above caste and communal considerations and work in a united manner.

Soorishwar Ji Maharaj cited the example of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a leader who had risen above political and communal considerations in carrying out water conservation activities.

Post inaugural proceedings were divided into two sessions with the first starting at 12.10 pm. This witnessed addresses by Ravi Chaure on how he used satellite-mapping techniques to discover underground water sources in the vicinity of trees between70-80 years.

K N Saxena rued how the World Bank-funded water projects were proving to be exorbitant and suggested each individual plant at least one sapling. G A Kaushal was of the view that the country received enough rainfall to cover every citizen’s needs provided the water was adequately harnessed. In the post-lunch session, which commenced at 2.30 pm, City resident Dilip Singh Panwar suggested channelling Narmada water into the Kshipra and Khan rivers to serve irrigation purposes.

Similar views on efficient and socio-economically beneficent methods of water conservation and recharge were also on offer from environmentalists, religious leaders as well as tribal delegates from Khandwa, Shahdol and Jhabua districts.

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