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Nashik’s sacred pond dries for the first time in 130 years

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Image source: www.dnaindia.com

Water scarcity in Maharashtra has left Nashik’s sacred Ramkund pond dry for the first time in 130 years.

Thousands of pilgrims expected to converge in Ramkund for a holy dip on Gudi Padwa on April 8 would be unable to do so.

“Tomorrow, (Friday) on the occasion of the auspicious Gudi Padwa, thousands of pilgrims expected to turn up at Ramkund will not be able to take the holy dip, at least till July-end,” Nashik Municipal Corporation’s Deputy Mayor Gurmeet Bagga told IANS.

The cemented Ramkund has now become a playground for children who play cricket and football there, Bagga said.

The civic body seems to have run out of options available to replenish the water in the holy reservoir in the river bed.

It is now toying with the idea of digging borewells on the river banks in a bid to replenish the Ramkund – which is also the main pilgrimage centre during the Kumbh Mela. However, the project depends on several factors, including religious sentiments and cost.

Besides, there is no guarantee that borewells will be a solution to the problem since the groundwater table in the district has plummeted, Bagga said.

The Purohit Sangh has now appealed to the Nashik Municipal Corporation authorities to arrange water to enable the priests and the faithfuls to perform the basic religious rituals on Friday.

The priests have suggested alternative water arrangements be made from some nearby reservoir to fill the Ramkund enough to facilitate the holy dips, but authorities are yet to respond.

At present, Bagga said, the corporation was supplying around 100 litres per head per day (LPHPD) to Nashik residents as against the national norm of 130 LPHPD, and soon this will dip to around 80 LPHPD due to acute water scarcity.

“Our target is to conserve water till the third week of July when heavy rains start and continue till mid-August to replenish the water bodies,” Bagga said.

Meanwhile, water scarcity has severely hit trade as well as summer tourism in the district. Several farmers have committed suicide in the state due to severe drought. (IANS)

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Gram Art Project: Innovative way to voice Indian Farmer’s Issues

Land art was used in Maharashtra under The Gram Art Project to voice the farmer’s ache through creativity

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A distant farm
A distant farm. wikimedia
  • The Gram Art Project, last year created a portrait of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the field, it was their way of asking him to ‘Grow in India’
  • There are many issues being faced by the community, yet they have not come together as one
  • Last year, artists from across India discussed contemporary problems of farming with the farmers of the village at the Gram Dhara Chakra Utsav

Nagpur, Maharashtra, August 4, 2017: The Gram Art Project is a praiseworthy initiative in which Land Art was used to voicing farmer’s issues. The term Land Art means, creating art which is made directly on the landscape by sculpting the land and making structures in the landscape.

It is done by using natural materials such as rocks or twigs etc. The term originated from the art movement in the U.S.A in the 1960s and 1970s.The Gram Art Project was in the news last year as well after it created a portrait of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the field, it was their way of asking him to ‘Grow in India’.

The collective has been since then involved in working with farmers and highlighting issues of the rural, agrarian economy using art in the village Paradsinga, near Nagpur, Maharashtra. Its volunteers and artists (mostly natives of the village) were present in Delhi to talk about their work.

“Last year, artists from across India discussed contemporary problems of farming with the farmers of the village at the Gram Dhara Chakra Utsav, organised by volunteers, after which seven images for land art were drawn out and grown on the fields,” said Shweta Bhattad (who initiated the project), mentioned Indian Express Report.

One of the images was grown by artist Ganesh Dhoke. He made an Indian map with a farmer and his bull inside. “India is primarily dependent on agriculture and, without it, there will be no food. People need to understand that farmers are leaving the profession and youngsters are not joining it. This message is for the government, too,” Dhoke said. He is the only youngster in his village to be a full-time farmer.

Mumbai-based artist Kalyani Uday’s land art consisted of two adjacent pyramids, with one of them in reverse. It had a leafy legume accompanied with the slogan Kisan Ekta Zaruri Hai.

Tanmay Joshi, a volunteer said, “There are many issues being faced by the community, yet they have not come together as one. They are at the bottom of the pyramid, so we wanted to show that the reverse of the equation is possible.” Satyabhama Manjhi, an artist belonging to Odisha, created a small Land Art – the local village school and the students.

Adarsh Dhoke said that earlier many people used to urinate near that school wall, so they decided to grow a toilet seat with plants, resulting which the practice stopped. His parents are into farming but he never wanted to do the same. During his interaction with school children, other children echoed his view, though he tried to change that. “Nobody wants to pursue farming but, after I spoke to them, they started thinking about it,” he said.

Also Read: Israeli experts train Indian farmers in advanced agricultural practices to cultivate Dates in Gujarat

Gram Art Project also promotes chemical-free farming and use of native seeds in Paradsinga. The volunteers are involved in activities like building machans and providing the daily weather forecast.

Ganesh Dhoke has reached out to other like-minded people and a road was built that connects 50 fields. It made locomotion in monsoon easier. Similarly, Vednath Lohi recognized the need that there was no place for children to play. With the help of the artists, they converted a land, called Gothan, which was earlier used for bad practices like defecation and gambling and they turned it into a playground for children. Also decorated it with sustainable sculptures near which children can play.

The condition of Indian farmers is quite problematic as many farmer’s suicide due to the heavy loan’s on them which they are not capable to pay off or poor financial condition in general. So, initiatives like this are a positive step towards highlighting farmer’s issues.

– prepared by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08


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Women Turn into Well Diggers in Drought Hit Kerala Villages

Over 300 women in Palakkad district started digging wells to find a solution to the acute water scarcity in the drought-hit villages of Kerala

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Drought
Drought in Kerala 2017 drinking water supply. Wikimedia

Kerala, July 13, 2017: The dearth of water in the hamlet of Kerala has turned women into well diggers. It is estimated that over 300 women in Palakkad district of Kerala have started digging wells to find a solution to the acute water scarcity in the drought-hit villages of Kerala.

When the first signs of drought in Kerela appeared, the women in the area made things easier when they began digging the wells with spades and shovels in October 2016.

None of the women had an experience of digging well in the past but the unfamiliarity with work was never a predicament in their way. Radha, a well digger was employed under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) for the past four years now.

“We never had any experience of digging wells. But our collective spirit helped us learn the trick easily. Now we have warmed up to it and most of us get into 80-feet deep without any fear,” said K Radha reportedly to HT.

ALSO READ: Sweet Paradox: India’s Drought-Stricken Farmers plant the Thirstiest Crop ‘Sugarcane’ 

The president of Pookkottukavu panchayat, K Jayadevan, concludes that women dig wells with the same perfection as that of their professional male counterparts. 

Jayadevan told PTI, “The first well, dug by a group of women, under the scheme looked like a pit. But, as they took up more wells, they have perfected. The latest ones, made by them, are really structural marvels. This transition is the proof of empowerment attained by these village women.”

-Prepared by a Staff writer at Newsgram

 

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Indian-origin Leo Varadkar to become Ireland’s PM, Mumbai Family plans to celebrate Momentous Occasion

As Outgoing Prime Minister Enda Kenny has formally tendered his resignation paving the way for Varadkar to take over, his extended family in Maharashtra, India is ecstatic and plans to celebrate the significant event

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Leo Varadkar. Twitter
  • Outgoing Prime Minister Enda Kenny has formally tendered his resignation to Irish President Michael D. Higgins, paving the way for Varadkar, 38
  • Whenever Varadkar and his parents visit India, there is day-long celebration, mostly at the Borivali home
  • However, none of the family members could make it for the swearing-in from India as the time was too short for the journey

Mumbai, June 14, 2017: With the stage set for the swearing-in of Indian-origin Leo Varadkar as Ireland’s Prime Minister, his extended family in Maharashtra is ecstatic and plans to celebrate the momentous occasion.

“Our joy is boundless. But we have not made any formal celebration plans yet. But all relatives shall gather at our home this evening,” dancer Shubhada Varadkar, cousin of the Irish PM designate, told IANS on Wednesday morning.

Another cousin, Dipti Bhosale, said she was busy contacting all relatives of the joint family in Mumbai to join the festivities at the Borivali home which Varadkar visited in 2011 as an Irish Minister.

Similarly, separate plans are on in the family’s native Varad village in Sindhudurg district.

On Tuesday, outgoing Prime Minister Enda Kenny formally tendered his resignation to Irish President Michael D. Higgins, paving the way for Varadkar, 38.

Earlier on June 2, when Varadkar was elected leader of the ruling Fine Gael Party in Ireland, his joint family in Maharashtra had erupted into frenzied celebrations.

At that time, the cancer-survivor Shubhada told IANS how it was like “a dream come true” for her as she had virtually predicted in July 2016 that the medico-turned-politician would some day become the Prime Minister.

However, none of the family members could make it for the swearing-in from India as the time was too short for the journey.

“But we shall witness it and celebrate as if we are all physically present there,” she said.

Born on January 18, 1979, in Dublin, Varadkar’s Mumbai-born father was a medico who went to England in 1970 and married a nurse, Miriam, and settled in Ireland.

Varadkar joined Irish politics at 22 and became an MP five years later.

ALSO READ: Leo Varadkar: Irish PM in waiting and his India connection

Whenever Varadkar and his parents visit India, there is day-long celebration, feasting and merrymaking by the joint family in Mumbai, mostly at the Borivali home.

The family is not so sure whether Varadkar will now be able to make it here owing to security and protocol considerations, but they look forward to his visit.

The Irish PM designate’s extended joint family in India comprises four uncles and five aunts, including Manohar Varadkar, 93, and Madhukar Varadkar, who are freedom fighters, and Avinash, 79, a former Indian Railway employee, and a host of cousins and their children. (IANS)