While the success of the Art Of Living’s River Rejuvenation project has already been demonstrated, most notably for the Galhati and Kasura rivers, the Marathwada region has remained untouched. Known as a drought affected area, its residents suffer from water shortages and livelihood problems. With the mass exodus to urban areas, it has left the remaining people desolate and hopeless. Moreover the existing solution was short term and problematic in nature. Truckloads of water would be delivered to the villages and residents had to invest a whole day just to meet this basic need. A better solution was needed, one that would nip the problem at the bud.
It was then that residents of the area decided to adopt the Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan or River Rejuvenation model of the Art of Living. Two villages in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra were selected to implement the program, they are the villages of Manta and Partur. In carrying out the project teams of volunteers, donors and residents pooled their resources in clearing the years of accumulated sediment and trash on the river. As per the instructions, digging was done until they reached hard rock. This is important in the rejuvenation process and ensures that the river will function as nature created it. With the work done and everything in its place, it was now time to put their efforts to the test. Only the rains would tell if the project would be a success.
Come the monsoon season the rivers swelled, watering its surrounding plains with rich minerals and bringing life to the once dry and hopeless land. It not only provided sustenance but abundance! Water in the millions of litters were stored, the farmers’ income ballooned from thousands to lakhs! People were returning home seeing the renewed vitality in agriculture as a viable livelihood. The enthusiasm was apparent when the residents of Manta and Partur began spreading the knowledge and information to surrounding villages. In a span of two months alone, the techniques spread to forty eight surrounding villages and a total of 151 embankments were created spanning a total of 127 kilometers! While the material benefits were great, it was the renewed spirit of the people that served as the icing on the cake. It kept them away from vices like alcohol and tobacco and turned their frowns to smiles.
Moreover it is important to note that the project became self-sustaining. With the river swelling into the floodplains, the surrounding areas became incredibly fertile. This mineral rich soil not only provided suitable grounds for planting crops, but also turned into a marketable product. People were eager to buy this soil, the proceeds of which would be reinvested back into the project. Another ingenious and practical use of the mud was to build roads, increasing the convenience and connectivity in the area. Truly this inspiring story of Marathwada has brought new meaning to the phrase “water is life”.
Art of Living has been reviving 33 Rivers in India and 1000+ water bodies which will benefit more than 50,00,000 people in 3000+ villages
25 Rivers itself are being rejuvenated in Maharashtra
– Bea Chua