The Malguzari Tanks impact story: How a conscientious Engineer taught India to be water responsible!
India is a country naturally blessed with multiple & abundant natural sources of drinking water – be it rivers, lakes, reservoirs or wells. Historically speaking, barring a few regions like Rajasthan, the country did not have much arid lands. However, this advantageous situation has drastically changed in the past century or two. What was once a land of abundant water supply & thus a wealthy thriving civilization has now started turning into a water scarce nation.
The natural habitats like forests, rivers, lakes & farming lands are slowly depleting over generations’ because we as a community have consistently lacked to preserve & conserve our natural resource of water effectively.
The results are evident in the rain-parched areas like Vidarbha where the water scarcity is claiming not just lives but also affecting the agro-livelihoods of generations to come!
It is therefore important to know & applaud the story of a government employee who took it upon himself to revive centuries-old community water harvesting tanks – known as Malguzari – with an aim to provide fresh water reserves to the water scarce villages in Bhandara region.
Malguzari tanks dug centuries back in India played a major role in water harvesting for villages. They were also a source of fisheries for the locals. It thus was a combined source of food & water for self-sustaining a region. However, over years, because of the lack of maintenance by its previous owner Maalguzars (zamindars) & government bureaucracy, these tanks had started to dry up with excessive silting.
Mr Shirish Apte, an engineer with the Minor Irrigation Division of Bhandara, also a Maalguzaar, identified the problem & decided to rectify the situation with the local community assistance. He was able to seek Government funds to get the activity started in 2008. The de-silting of the tanks was started with active labor contribution from the village folks. The silt taken out of these tanks was a rich source of organic nutrients & was thus intelligently reused as manures for the farming.
This not only led to an abundance of organically grown farm produce but also increased the fish’s populations in these tanks. The farmers & fishermen both benefited by donating their sweat to a community asset preservation activity!
In India, we never know the worth of water till the well is dry! This attitude should change. What Mr Apte has done is commendable but there is much more which needs to be done. What we need to ask is how can we as individuals help in saving water or how can we volunteer for water conservation by donating our sweat.
At a personal level, one can donate your sweat to conserve water by following these simple tricks:
1. Do not use a head shower, as the water keeps flowing freely even when not required. Use a bucket of water instead for your daily baths.
2. Reuse the water used to wash vegetables & fruits for watering your plants.
3. Do not run washing machine cycles unless the clothes basket is almost full. This helps in saving water.
4. Wherever possible build overhead rainwater harvesting tanks on society terraces to be used for watering the society lawn etc.
5. Fix your leaking taps & pipes promptly.
Even today, more than 1.2 billion people lack access to clean drinking water. We have an abundant resource of fresh water, but unfortunately, it has been abused & ill maintained for generations because of our own careless attitude.
The change will come when everybody realizes that they are responsible for caring their community’s resources & assets. Till then we can do our own small bits to help in water conservation. Let us all ‘Be Water Responsible’ to save & conserve water.
Tags: Be Water Responsible, Clean Water Resources, Community Asset Preservation, Malguzari Tanks Restoration, Save Water, Traditional Water System, Water Conservation Ideas, Water Resource Conservation