Rainwater Harvesting pioneer Rajendra Singh to be honoured with Stockholm Water Prize
Rajendra Singh, an environment activist of India widely popular as the ‘Water Man’ has been conferred with Stockholm Water Prize on March 20, 2015. The award encourages his efforts for instilling life in thousand of villages in Rajasthan through water.
Sweden’s King Carl Gustav will present the rainwater harvesting pioneer with a cash prize of 1,50,000 Dollar during the world water week.
Rajendra Singh was an ayurvedic doctor who left his job to encourage rainwater harvesting process. He, through his organisation Tarun Bharat Sangh volunteered young people and started purifying traditional rainwater tanks or johads. The movement engaged the villagers in building small earthen check dams and built 8,600 johads in the village thus, reviving five rivers in Rajasthan. In the meanwhile, the pioneer got recognition all over India and the world.
With 375 check dams, Arvari river which was dry for the past 60 years started flowing again. He played important role in stopping destructive dams like Loharinag Pala hydropower project over river Bhagirathi. He shared all his experiences into the World Commission on Dams process.
Despite being recognised all over the world, his approaches were dismissed by powerful mainstream institutions. World Bank since 2003 argues that India needs to return to building large dams as easy and cheap options for harvesting has mostly been exploited.
Rajender Singh in a statement said “Through the Indian wisdom of rainwater harvesting, we have made helpless, abandoned, destitute and impoverished villages prosperous and healthy again.”
About Rajendra Singh, ‘The Water Man’
- He started his career as a National Service Volunteer in 1980. Meanwhile he joined Tarun Bharat Sangh
- In 1984, almost three years after he joined the committee, the entire board resigned leaving the organisation after him as he questioned the authenticity of the authorities
- He sold his household things to support the organisation
- He, with young youths of the village started distilling the Gopalpura johad which was left negligent due to disuse. Monsoon that year filled the johad with water and turned the area into ‘white zone’.
- In 1986, he constructed a johad at the source of a dried Arvari River with the help of people of Bhanota-Kolyala village, voluntary labour and TBS volunteers, constructed a johad
- With 375 check dams the river started flowing again after remaining dry for long. By 1995 Arvari became perennial river and was awarded ‘International River Prize’
- In 2009, he led a pada yatra (walkathon), a march of a group of environmentalists and NGOs, through Mumbai city along the endangered Mithi river
- In 2001, he was awarded with Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership.