Ramsara: A model to emulate
Ramsara village in Rajasthan's Churu district is distinctly different from its neighbouring villages. The general air of a sense of purpose is palpable, as is a sense of contentment and pride in the work already underway.india Updated: May 24, 2003 19:09 IST
Gisu Ram looks content with his lot in life. So does his village, Ramsara. Despite being in the Thar desert, the village displays no apparent signs of scarcity that most of this region is characterised by, especially of water.
The village of about 175 households is, by the region's standards, a village of average size. No apparent physical attribute marks it out from neighbours at first glance. As with every other village in the area, the water bodies have gone dry due to prolonged drought. There are few animals visible and the combination of sun and sand is as dehydrating a concoction as anywhere else.
What is different is the sense of purpose the villagers seem to have. The village is just a five minute bicycle ride from Churu on the Churu-Sardarshahr road, but not more than 50 odd villagers go to the city, that too, as they have jobs in government offices, informs the sarpanch. This is in sharp contrast to the earlier period when many of the youth migrated to West Asia to work as dock or other labour.
What sets apart this village different from its neighbouring villages? What sparked the change was, again, the work done on water. The groundwater in the region is saline and is generally unfit for consumption. Years of dependence on unreliable government tankers has forced the villagers to look inwards.
Traditionally, they villagers have depended on water stored in kundis, underground storage tanks to store rainwater (for more details on kundis see – Kundis sustain life in Thar). But, as with other places, the appropriation of water rights by state authorities, inherent with the promise of supplying water, gradually lessened the dependence on traditional systems.
The current five-year drought has, however, seen increased awareness amongst the people to do something about the water scarcity. And perhaps the obvious - culling out answers from the past - was the best solution.