Popular as ‘Waterman of India’ for his outstanding work on water conservation through indigenous methods, Rajendra Singh will be conferred the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize at a Royal Award Ceremony in Stockholm on August 26. He is also the recipient of Ramon Magsaysay Award 2001. He has been instrumental in helping the villagers take charge of water management in their semi-arid area as it lies close to Thar Desert, through the use of johad, traditional rainwater storage tanks, check dams and other time-tested as well as path-breaking techniques. Organiser Senior Correspondent Pramod Kumar spoke to him to know his feelings and future plans after the announcement of the prestigious honour. Excerpts:
- How do you look at this international recognition to your work?
I feel this honour belongs to all those who in our country are conserving water through age old indigenous methods. When I came in Alwar region of Rajasthan decades back the entire region was facing acute water crisis. People had started migrating from this area in want to drinking water. Therefore, in the beginning we focused at ensuring drinking water. We collected rainwater and channelised that to an underground aquafayre. It recharged the aquafayre and finally all people started getting water. It is a common-sense science in which we only corrected the relations between surface and the aquafayre. Enhancement in their relations helped the region getting water. The people who had migrated from the region due to water scarcity later returned. It is also the honour of all those people from whom I learnt this science. It is also the felicitation of the people of Alwar, my State as well as my country.
- It means the Indian traditional methods of water conservation are richer than the so-called modern ones?
Yes, definitely. Our indigenous methods are richer. Apart from educating us on water conservation these methods strengthen our relations with the water bodies and the nature. It is this relationship with the nature that has made water conservation sustainable and replicable in our country since centuries. It is close to the hearts of our people. If we want to save the world from another world war in the 21st century we must adopt these nature friendly indigenous methods. They will lead us to world peace.
- What is your future planning after getting this prestigious recognition?
Now, I want to spread these indigenous methods, practiced in villages to the world. The world has much to learn from India, water conservation is one of them. We faced droughts for so many decades due to our own ignorance. Now after reviving the age old traditions we have plenty of water. These traditional methods are also cost effective and have the capacity to quench the thrust of the entire country as well as the world. If we follow these methods we neither need more funds nor is there any need to fight against anyone. These methods are also close to the common men and to understand them one does not need to be highly qualified. Anybody can do it.
- Many parts of our own country also face water crisis. Do you think the traditional methods should be promoted in those areas also?
Yes, certainly. We need to be nature friendly. These methods can ensure water to all. And we also do not require huge resources for it. It only requires will power. The results are sure.
- There are many other people in the country who are conserving water through indigenous methods. Do you think all such people should join hands together to ensure water for all in the country?
Yes. If we all work together the results will be more effective. This is need of the hour.
- What is your message to all such people?
I want to request all the people that water crisis is deepening. Providing water to all is the biggest challenge of the 21st century. We must accept this challenge. By adopting indigenous methods we should start the work today only. We have to show the world that we are not water scare country. Love to the nature is the key to ensure water to all.