With 40% of the population facing severe water shortage in the next decade, we need to support water conservation on a war footing

INDIA is gifted with astonishingly beautiful and distinctive lakes. Not only do these lakes act as water reservoirs, but also play an important role in maintaining the ecological balance. Sadly, many of these water bodies have now either dried up, filled up for development or are heavily polluted.

Natural water bodies such as lakes and ponds are sources of drinking water, help control floods, support biodiversity and regenerate groundwater.  With Indians already facing a severe water crunch, predicted by scientists to worsen by 2030, it is imperative for us to take action.

The following data is the proof that we need to conserve water bodies immediately:

  • Over 80% of crude sewage is discharged into water bodies such as lakes and oceans in developing countries like India.
  • The number of lakes in India is continuously diminishing. Bangalore had nearly 260 lakes in the 1960s, now there are hardly 80.
  • 2001 data showed more than 135 lakes in Ahmedabad. Within 10 years, the numbers were less than 75.
  • Hyderabad has lost more than 3,200 hectares of wetlands in the past 12 years.

Despite some regulations and programmes in place, the condition of lakes in India is not improving much. An example of such a regulation is the National Wetlands Conservation Programme, which was established in 1985-86 to provide financial aid for protection of nearly 115 wetlands in the country, across various states. However, there is not much to report on this too, and without proper support from the state and centre, even the environmentalists can’t do much.

Thankfully, now there are many NGOs working towards conservation of lakes in India. On this World Water Day let us support them and do our bit to conserve our water bodies. Here is our list of the top ranking NGOs:

  1. Bhumi

The “Revive Lakes” project by the NGO Bhumi was started with the aim of cleaning and restoring the lakes and other water bodies. They bring drying and dying lakes back to life and help the people of Bengaluru fight shortage of water.

The Revive Lakes team consists of 30 volunteers, who are tirelessly working towards cleaning the lakes and spreading awareness among people in the vicinity. The volunteers of Bhumi meet every weekend with the sole aim to clean lakes and create a city, free from water shortage.

The Vibhutipura Lake Project involved more than 250 volunteers, which helped the lake get rid of more than 7,000 kg of garbage. Following the clean-up, the team also conducted door-to-door campaigning to create awareness about conserving the water body and keeping its surroundings clean. They also conduct many tree plantation drives in and around Bengaluru.

  1. Swades Foundation

Swades believes that it is every individual’s right to receive safe and sanitized drinking water. This NGO working towards conservation of water bodies in Maharashtra, aims at ensuring that every family in its geography receives their share of 200 litres of water per day through taps and pipes, in addition to other basic facilities such as sanitation, healthcare and livelihood.

Additionally, to ensure that these water projects are sustainable, they create water committees that are responsible for the processes and conservation of their community’s water project.

Apart from domestic uses, water is also required for agricultural purposes. They have taken up small tributaries and constructed check dams in order to conserve water for domestic and agricultural purposes. The water thus conserved is supplied to the agricultural lands through modern age technology, making the lives of the local farmers sustainable and profitable and helping conserve the water bodies, in the process.

  1. Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR)

Located at Pune, this NGO has spread its wings across nine states in India, impacting more than 3,750 villages. With “water” at the core of everything that it does, WOTR has started many initiatives that aim at conserving water bodies in India.

As a simple yet unique step, they have started something called “water budgeting”, which involves “Jal Sevaks” to ensure optimal, rightful and efficient consumption of water. These Jal Sevaks lead the water conservation activities in their own and the adjoining 3-4 villages. In addition they also aim at motivating and enabling rural communities towards water harvesting and conservation.

WOTR has facilitated construction of check dams and many other water harvesting structures to enable better drinking water and sanitation facilities at various villages across the country.

  1. Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti

With an aim to support the lives of millions of peoples living across 1,500 villages spread across Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti was born. Also known as GRAVIS, this NGO has positively impacted nearly 1.3 million lives.

Keeping in mind the water scarcity and inadequate sanitation facilities in drought affected areas of the Thar Desert, GRAVIS has taken up the responsibility of promoting water security through conventional methods such as rain water harvesting through taankas (covered impermeable cisterns) and beris (shallow, pitch-shaped wells) and desilting  of naadis (rivers).

So far GRAVIS has built nearly 6,635 tankaas, 588 beris and de-silted 263 naadis. With these initiatives, GRAVIS has supported lakhs of families in and around the villages they have worked in, providing them stable sources of clean drinking water and sanitation.

  1. Navjyoti India Foundation

Apart from bringing about a positive change in the lives of the marginalised sections of the society and promoting women empowerment, Dr. Kiran Bedi started Navjyoti India Foundation to protect the environment and conserve water bodies as well. They promote adopting sustainable means of life, working in close collaboration with students, women-led community groups, youth volunteers and Gram Panchayat.

This NGO for water conservation works towards creating clean and green landscapes to ensure sustainability of natural resources. Their water conservation enterprise works on the concept of rainwater harvesting – they collect the excess rainwater and help in replenishing groundwater. They also work towards restoration of lakes, ponds and other water bodies.

The focus is also on the revival of ponds. They carry out their initiatives of restoring the environment by collaborating with local and state level administrative offices, schools, universities, social groups and other private entities. Working in a multi-disciplinary approach, this NGO combines scientific, social and environmental aspects of sustainability and sensitizes local communities to understand the importance of environmental conservation.

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