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Story of Rajendra Singh – The Waterman of India

The area which was then declared a “dark zone” due to its water shortage was transformed into a “white zone”.

Water is said to be the source of life on this planet and the people who work day and night to conserve it are no less than superheroes.

Today, let’s shed some light on one of these water talkers. Rajendra Singh is widely known as the Waterman of India. A title he earned by offering his life to this water conservation mission.

Rajendra Singh born on 6e August 1959 is a 62-year-old environmentalist with a degree in Ayurvedic medicine and a degree in Hindi literature. After completing his education, he joined government service in 1980 and started his career as a national education service volunteer in Jaipur, from where he was appointed to oversee adult education schools in Dausa district in Rajasthan. It was there that he joined the Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS) originally formed to help victims of a fire on campus. However, in 1984, the whole organization was left to him, it was this turn that led him into this conversational world.

One thing sparked another and the same year after his experience working closely with people, frustrated by his superiors’ apathy towards development issues and his own inability to have a bigger impact, he quit. his work. He sold all his household goods for Rs 23,000 and took a bus ticket for the last stop, boarding the bus with four of his friends from Tarun Bharat Sangh which took them to Kishori village in Thanagazi tehsil district of Alwar on 2n/a October 1985.

Initially unsure, the villagers of the nearby village of Bhikampura accepted him, and here they found a place to stay.

Alwar district, which once had a huge grain market at the time, was dry and barren after years of deforestation and the abandonment of traditional water conservation techniques like building check dams or johad relying instead on modern operating wells.

At this point, he met Mangu Lal Meena, a village chief, who twisted him and encouraged him to work on the “Johad”, earthen check dams, which were traditionally used to store oil. rainwater and groundwater recharge.

The area which was later declared a ‘dark zone’ due to its water shortage was turned into a ‘white zone’ over the next three years, even after her partners parted ways with the help of some local youths. and distilled Gopalpura Johad.

The Forest Department invited the NGO to actively participate in the management of the park & ​​Tarun Ashram at Kishori-Bhikampura bordering the Sariska Shrine, became the headquarters of Tarun Bharat Sangha.

In 1986, Rajendra Singh started his first pada yatra (walkathon) through the villages of the region educating to rebuild the old checkpoints of the villages.

Over time, Rajendra Singh and his NGO filed a public interest petition with the Supreme Court, which in 1991 banned mining in the Aravallis. Then, in May 1992, a notification from the Ministry of Environment and Forests banned mining in the Aravalli hill system, and 470 mines operating in the buffer zone and periphery of the Sariska Sanctuary were closed. . After building 115 earthen and concrete structures in the sanctuary and another 600 structures in the buffer zone in 1995, Aravri became a perennial river and was awarded the “International River Prize”, and in March 2000. The Down To Earth-Joseph. The C. John Prize was presented to the villagers by the then President, KR Narayanan. In the years to come, rivers like Ruparel, Sarsa, Bhagani and Jahajwali were revived, abandoned villages in the regions became populated and agricultural activities were able to resume.

Over the next few years, TBS grew in numbers and built 4,500 johads in 850 villages in 11 districts of Rajasthan.

Rajendra Singh has received the Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, the Jamnalal Bajaj Award and the Stockholm Water Award. He also played a pivotal role in stopping the controversial Loharinag Pala hydroelectric project, led a pada yatra (walkathon), with a group of environmentalists and NGOs, through the city of Mumbai along the river Mithi endangered in 2009, and made a parikrama along the banks. Godavari river from Trimbakeshwar to Paithan to urge people to make the river pollution free in 2014.

This dedication and struggle of Rajendra Singh is now combined in a story and produced by producer and director Ravindra Chauhan in the form of a documentary, namely “Jal Purush Ki Kahani”.

There are very few people who firmly believe in a cause and even fewer who have the courage to devote themselves to it!

Thus Rajendra Singh aka The Waterman of India is an exemplary inspiration from all points of view!

First published on: 06 July 2022, 05:08 IST