Swades Foundation hosted a round table with Shri Girish Mahajan, Cabinet Minister for Water Resources and Medical Education, Government of Maharashtra, to discuss their learnings from working in providing drinking water through taps in schools and homes in Raigad for the last five years.
Interesting anecdotes were shared of how Swades decided to go ahead with their firm belief of a tap in every home well before the announcement of the PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Nal se Jal’ mission. They faced tremendous difficulties initially including from donors who were not ready to pay the 20% extra costs and surprisingly even from the community. However, Swades pushed forward to change mindsets, and they shared stories of how proud and empowered the women were after they got a tap in their home.
This is a part of the Swades’ unique 360 model of rural transformation. They have built 424 water schemes consisting of either springs, wells or bore wells and impacted over 32,000 households, and 150 schools through drinking water and over 2,100 acres of land through irrigation.
The current central government has stressed continuously upon the need for water conservation to provide drinking water to every household in the country. As part of this, the government also launched the Jal Shakti Abhiyan earlier this year, followed by the allocation of ₹ 3.5 lakh crore to the Jal Jeevan Mission. Shri Mahajan addressed how corporates and NGOs with citizens could join hands for water conservation and create a partnership along the lines of the Jal Shakti, to conserve water and secure the future. He stressed on the importance of providing clean water to every household in the country.
Shri Girish Mahajan, Minister for Water Resources and Medical Education, said, “The government aims to conserve water on priority through sustainable initiatives. The central government has been proactive in emphasising the importance of water conversation, and I would like to thank Shri Narendra Modi for being involved in it himself. The Maharashtra Government led by Hon’ Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has laid out a number of schemes towards achievement of this massive transformation around Water. These initiatives, in line with the Jal Shakti Abhiyan should bring positive change in people for water conservation and invited partners to participate in all efforts actively.”
Ronnie Screwvala, Founder, Swades Foundation, said, “Water is at the core of our unique 360 degree model of holistic rural development. We always start with water, without which no other intervention can really succeed. Our belief in tap water came very early as we still found women having to go to the stand posts late at night and carry water. We truly believed that if it was our family, this is what we would want.”
“Surprisingly the community initially resisted the idea, but today our communities feel truly empowered with a tap in their homes, and our water committees now lead the water conservation and recharging of their structures. We are also proud of our efforts in solar pumps and our efforts to introduce drip irrigation for all agricultural use. Also, we do not allow the use of groundwater for agriculture.”