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In the time of drought in India, self sustainable village Baghuvar shows the way

Pankaj Shukla’s documentary Swaraj Mumkin Hai based on efforts of villagers of Baghuvar in Madhya Pradesh

Banner of 'Swaraj Mumkin Hai'

India is going through the worst water crisis this year. Bad monsoons over the years, use of potable water in factories and ignorance towards Environment has run havoc in many states of the country. But, what the policy makers of this country could not learn in debates and discussions in the parliament, people of a small village called Baghuvar in Madhya Pradesh learned by following principles of Mahatma Gandhi, popularly knowns as Swaraj. Yes, this village not only has enough ground water now to survive for years in any drastic environmental situation but it also has many firsts which are still a dream for thousands of villages in India.

Pankaj Shukla
Pankaj Shukla : Director of the documentary ‘Swaraj Mumkin Hai’

The unique ways of water conservations and water harvesting in this tiny village of Baghuvar are very well captured on screen by filmmaker and senior journalist Pankaj Shukla in his latest documentary called Swaraj Mumkin Hai, this film was released on Tuesday in Madhya Pradesh’s capital Bhopal by Padma Shri award winner Mr. Vijay Dutt Shridhar in a very Gandhian way. This release function was held in Dushyant Kumar Smarak Pandulipi Sangrahalay, which is also fast becoming a tourist place for Hindi poetry lovers. Mr. Shridhar also released a book on the making of this film, which is written by Maya Vishwakarma and edited by maker of the film Pankaj Shukla.

Village Baghuvar
Village Baghuvar

During the function, speakers put forward their great concern about policies and their execution at village level. Mr. Sridhar said that without valuing our culture, traditions and ancient thoughts about strengthening village independence, no development has any value for a common man. And, it is a pity that leaders of today do not want villagers to know their rights and do not wish to make villagers part of the development programs. He hailed Pankaj Shukla for leaving his luxurious life of Mumbai and to reach to a village in Madhya Pradesh where not many leaders of even that are have reached so far.

Village Baghuvar
Village Baghuvar

When asked about why did he chose to make a full length documentary film on Baghuvar? Director Pankaj Shukla explained it in detail. He said, “Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been advocating for one ideal village per year in every parliamentary constituency to his MPs. But we are yet to know more about it. We chose to release this film at a time where again Central Government is running Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday program in each and every village of India. If we could make one Baghuvar in each block of our country, the development of village will be manifolds within few years. But someone has to take onus of it. Development of any village can be done only by the villagers of that village like people of Baghuvar did in their village. This is a live model of Self Sustainable village in India and government should bring more and more Gram Pradhans here for tour so that they can replicate Baghuvar model in their villages as well.”

The documentary titled Swaraj Mumkin Hai elaborates on how by transparent utilization of government funds and by involving every resident of the village, a village can transform itself into a self-sustainable village.  The film is of 40 Minutes duration and it encompasses all the major work done in this village like Bio Fuel, Organic Agriculture, Water Harvesting, Hygienic ecosystem, Education for All, Toilets in every home and many others. The film’s premier was also done for the villagers of Baghuvar in a function at the village itself where people from more than 100 villages participated and enjoyed the documentary. An NGO Sukarma Foundation has come forward to take this film to maximum villages and organize shows to educate the villagers for self-development of their villages. Veteran Music Director and Narrator Mr. Brij Bhushan has lent his voice for this movie, while Hitesh Prasad, the famous percussionist has given back ground music in the film. Senior camera person Neeraj Tiwari has done cinematography for the film. Around fifty percent money used in making the film has come from crowd funding, rest of the funds have been donated by Mumbai based production company Sound N Clips productions.



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  • chakrs

    People in villages like Baghuvar can surely inspire their neighbouring villages to follow their example. In this way the whole country can be developed in a few years.

Next Story

Water Crisis is Increasing in Cape Town, Red Alert For Africa

The El Nino weather pattern has triggered water crises across southern Africa since 2015, causing the region's worst drought in 35 years, Farr said.

Jonathan Farr leads work on water security for Water Aid, an organization that works to bring clean water to some of the world's poorest communities, including in southern Africa.
Women caring water from far away in Africa, VOA

While the South African city of Cape Town drew international attention when it warned it could run out of water this year, an international charity focused on global water supplies says “slow burning” droughts have wreaked even worse devastation in other parts of Africa.

Jonathan Farr leads work on water security for Water Aid, an organization that works to bring clean water to some of the world’s poorest communities, including in southern Africa.

“We should remember that there are already 844 million people in the world who lack basic access to water,” he said. “More than 8 million of those live in South Africa.”

The El Nino weather pattern has triggered water crises across southern Africa since 2015, causing the region’s worst drought in 35 years, Farr said.

“By the beginning of last year, it affected about 41 million people in countries including Mozambique, Madagascar, Malawi, Zambia and, of course, South Africa,” he said.

And some of those places are in worse shape than Cape Town.

In 2016, Madagascar’s government declared a state of emergency in the country’s south, “with almost a million people facing alarming levels of hunger,” Farr said. Last April, Malawi’s president also declared a state of national disaster, “with 25 out of 28 parts of the country having severe food shortages” related to the drought, Farr added.

In February, Mozambique reduced the water supply by more than half for consumers in its capital city, Maputo, although that order was lifted in April.

"By the beginning of last year, it affected about 41 million people in countries including Mozambique, Madagascar, Malawi, Zambia and, of course, South Africa," he said.
Drought has spread in Cape Town and severe conditions are expected in future in entire Africa, VOA

Threats across Africa

But water security is threatened across Africa, and not just because of hotter, drier weather.

“Lots of people are moving from rural communities to cities. The cities aren’t ready for this huge influx of people, and so that’s increasing demand for water, but in a very small area,” he said. “So, it does mean there’s huge pressures on particular water basins. The authorities, even those who are reacting well, are dealing with a very serious problem.”

In many southern Africa nations, water is lost through poor infrastructure, lax maintenance and illegal users. And, Farr said, many governments aren’t effectively collecting usage fees, so they lack the money to maintain and expand water systems.

Farr’s organization cooperates with governments, engineers and architects to assess threats to water supplies — everything from leaking infrastructure to improved water quality.

It also helps to build feasible infrastructure: In Maputo, it’s helping Mozambicans tap into unused water basins near the city.

Dramatic deadline

But if droughts are so much more serious in other parts of southern Africa, why are they largely out of the public eye? Why all the attention on Cape Town?

Farr said there are a few reasons for the international community focusing heavily on the city at the southern tip of Africa.

“You’ve got the deadline of Day Zero and that’s dramatic; it captures headlines, and it’s got this looming threat.”

Day Zero is the point at which authorities will be forced to cut water to most homes, so that people will need to line up at distribution points for daily rations. City officials said it would come when water levels in the city’s reservoirs fell to 13.5 percent of capacity.

Jonathan Farr leads work on water security for Water Aid, an organization that works to bring clean water to some of the world's poorest communities, including in southern Africa.People in queue for water, VOAEarlier this year, Cape Town officials warned that Day Zero would happen by this month, then recalculated to July. Successful conservation efforts and the onset of the annual rainy season have postponed it indefinitely. However, dam levels remain very low, and stringent water restrictions — eased to 87 liters daily per person from 50 earlier this year — remain in place.Cape Town’s situation also captured the attention of the developed world because the city of 4 million is much more developed than other drought-stricken areas in Africa, with industry and scientific research in the area.

Moreover, it’s a popular international tourist destination.

“So, the potential economic costs there of running out of water are absolutely gigantic,” Farr said. “This is a message that resonates around the world because if Cape Town’s running out of water, there’s lots of cities that also have to look at their own [water] situations and say, ‘Well, maybe this could be us in the not-too-distant future.'”

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Cape Town’s conservation efforts, and its plans to invest in alternative water sources, such as groundwater extraction, instead of reservoirs, should be an international example, Farr said.

“It’s not about, ‘Can we spend billions on new infrastructure,'” he said. “It’s not about, ‘Oh, let’s hope for the weather to improve.’ It’s about looking at what are the threats to water, where water comes from and what it’s been used for and can we make sure that’s been done better. And as Cape Town has demonstrated, when you do do it better, you can find significant water resources fairly easily.” (VOA)