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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

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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.

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Most Terrible Water Crisis Ever In History Leaves Millions Of Indians Thirsty

6 percent of GDP is very much dependent on water.

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A woman washes clothes as her daughter bathes in the Yamuna River on a hot day in New Delhi, India, April 24, 2017.
A woman washes clothes as her daughter bathes in the Yamuna River on a hot day in New Delhi, India, April 24, 2017. VOA

Weak infrastructure and a national shortage have made water costly all over India, but Sushila Devi paid a higher price than most. It took the deaths of her husband and son to force authorities to supply it to the slum she calls home.

“They died because of the water problem, nothing else,” said Devi, 40, as she recalled how a brawl over a water tanker carrying clean drinking water in March killed her two relatives and finally prompted the government to drill a tubewell.

“Now things are better. But earlier … the water used to be rusty, we could not even wash our hands or feet with that kind of water,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Delhi.

India is “suffering from the worst water crisis in its history”, threatening hundreds of millions of lives and jeopardising economic growth, a government think-tank report said in June.

From the northern Himalayas to the sandy, palm-fringed beaches in the south, 600 million people – nearly half India’s population – face acute water shortage, with close to 200,000 dying each year from polluted water.

Residents like Devi queue daily with pipes, jerry cans and buckets in hand for water from tankers – a common lifeline for those without a safe, reliable municipal supply – often involving elbowing, pushing and punching.

On the rare occasions water does flow from taps, it is often dirty, leading to disease, infection, disability and even death, experts say.

“The water was like poison,” said Devi, who still relies on the tanker for drinking water, outside her one-room shanty in the chronically water-stressed Wazirpur area of the capital Delhi.

“It is better now, but still it is not completely drinkable. It is alright for bathing and washing the dishes.”

Water pollution is a major challenge, the report said, with nearly 70 percent of India’s water contaminated, impacting three in four Indians and contributing to 20 percent of the country’s disease burden.

Yet only one-third of its wastewater is currently treated, meaning raw sewage flows into rivers, lakes and ponds – and eventually gets into the groundwater.

“Our surface water is contaminated, our groundwater is contaminated. See, everywhere water is being contaminated because we are not managing our solid waste properly,” said the report’s author Avinash Mishra.
Loss of livelihood

Meanwhile, unchecked extraction by farmers and wealthy residents has caused groundwater levels to plunge to record lows, says the report.

It predicts that 21 major cities, including New Delhi and India’s IT hub of Bengaluru, will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting 100 million people.

The head of WaterAid India VK Madhavan said the country’s groundwater was now heavily contaminated.

“We are grappling with issues, with areas that have arsenic contamination, fluoride contamination, with salinity, with nitrates,” he said, listing chemicals that have been linked to cancer.

Arsenic and fluoride occur naturally in the groundwater, but become more concentrated as the water becomes scarcer, while nitrates come from fertilisers, pesticides and other industrial waste that has seeped into the supply.

The level of chemicals in the water was so high, he said, that bacterial contamination – the source of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid – “is in the second order of problems”.

“Poor quality of water – that is loss of livelihood. You fall ill because you don’t have access to safe drinking water, because your water is contaminated.”

Currently, only 70 percent of India’s states treat less than half of their wastewater.
Currently, only 70 percent of India’s states treat less than half of their wastewater. pixabay

“The burden of not having access to safe drinking water, that burden is greatest on the poor and the price is paid by them.”

Frothy lakes and rivers

Crippling water problems could shave 6 percent off India’s gross domestic product, according to the report by the government think-tank, Niti Aayog.

“This 6 percent of GDP is very much dependent on water. Our industry, our food security, everything will be at stake,” said Mishra.

“It is a finite resource. It is not infinite. One day it can (become) extinct,” he said, warning that by 2030 India’s water supply will be half of the demand.

To tackle this crisis, which is predicted to get worse, the government has urged states – responsible for supplying clean water to residents – to prioritise treating waste water to bridge the supply and demand gap and to save lives.

Currently, only 70 percent of India’s states treat less than half of their wastewater.

Every year, Bengaluru and New Delhi make global headlines as their heavily polluted water bodies emit clouds of white toxic froth due to a mix of industrial effluents and domestic garbage dumped into them.

In Bengaluru – once known as the “city of lakes” and now doomed to go dry – the Bellandur Lake bursts into flames often, sending plumes of black smoke into sky.

The Yamuna river that flows through New Delhi can be seen covered under a thick, detergent-like foam on some days.

On other days, faeces, chemicals and ashes from human cremations float on top, forcing passers-by to cover their mouths and noses against the stench.

That does not stop 10-year-old Gauri, who lives in a nearby slum, from jumping in every day.

With no access to water, it is the only way to cool herself down during India’s scorching summers, when temperatures soar to 45 Celsius (113 Fahrenheit).

“There usually is not enough water for us to take a shower, so we come here,” said Gauri, who only gave her first name, as she and her brother splashed around in the filthy river.

Also read: India’s bulging water crisis: Is it too late for us to do something?

“It makes us itchy and sick, but only for some time. We are happy to have this, everyone can use it.” (VOA)