The list of states having less rainfall is long in India. This year more than 250 districts in the country are facing the drought-like situation. One of such regions is Bundelkhand that has been experiencing repeated droughts for very long. Due to lack of water and continuous crop failure, farmers of Bundelkhand are forced to migrate to other cities in search of livelihoods.
The Jal Jan Jodo Abhiyan and Jal Biradari, supported by many civil society organizations, organized a National Water Convention with a special focus on Bundelkhand on 2-3rd December 2017 in Khajuraho, under their national drought-free India campaign.
- To develop people-to-people dialogue regarding the drought situation.
- To develop strategy and action plan for drought mitigation.
- To develop a collaborative environment involving the community, civil society and the government to mitigate drought in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh (M.P.).
Many activities were conducted to increase awareness about the convention:
Drought Free Bundelkhand Jan Jagrukta Yatra: Yatras and rallies were organized in 6 Districts of Bundelkhand Region of M.P. (Datiya, Tikamgarh, Chhattarpur, Sagar, Panna, Damoh) & U.P. (Jalaun, Hamirpur, Lalitpur) to promote water-efficient agriculture and to make people aware of government schemes.
All the yatras converged in Khajuraho on 1st of December 2017 and a symbolic marchfrom the historic Shivsagar to Brahmasagar ponds was carried out by volunteers from different districts as well as eminent residents of Khajuraho. The march was supported by various associations such as Lions Club, the Guide Association and the Traders Association of Khajuraho.
National Water Convention: The main event
The convention for drought free India took place on 2-3rd December 2017 at the Mela ground (fairground) in Khajuraho. Around five thousand residents from Bundelkhand’s villages and representatives from various civil society organizations as well as activists and subject specialists took part in the event and shared their views.
The event was inaugurated by the state’s Chief Minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who announced that all the water bodies in Madhya Pradesh will be identified and demarcated, one of the key demands of the Jal Jan Jodo campaign. He also requested the civil society organizations to provide support in making Madhya Pradesh water sufficient by identifying places for new ponds and by reviving old ponds. The Chief Minister asked the officials to complete all the work related to ponds by 15th June 2018
Addressing the convention, social activist Shri Anna Hazare said that water conservation is very important for the progress of villages as well as the country. He said that it is very urgent to make India drought free. He shared examples of his village Ralegaon Siddhi where efforts of water conservation are showing positive results still after 30 years of their implementation.
In his address, Waterman Shri Rajendra Singh said the objective of the water convention was to highlight the serious drought situation in the Bundelkhand region and the steps to be initiated to bring relief to the people. He emphasized that the administration and the society need to work together to make India drought free.
The inaugural session was also attended by Mrs Lalita Yadav, Minister of State for Backward Class and Minority Welfare (Independent Charge), Dr. Arvind Kumar, Vice Chancellor of Rani Lakshmi Bai Central Agricultural University Jhansi, Mr. Ashutosh Chaturvedi, Commissioner, Sagar Division, Mr. Ramkrishan Kusmaria , Chairman Bundelkhand Development Council, and Former Members of Parliament Mr Jitendra Singh Bundela and Mr Gangacharan Rajput.
Also, on the occasion, eminent activist Ransingh Singh Parmar and water experts Guru Swamy from Tamilnadu, Mr. Ramesh Sharma from Delhi, Sumant Pandey from Pune and Professor Rajendra Poddar from Karnataka, Dr. Indira Khurana shared their experiences of water conservation in their respective states. ScientistsDr R.P Tiwari, Dr R.S Yadav, Professor Vibhuti Rai, Mr Mukesh Meena, Professor Brijgopal also shared their views on soil and water conservation in the region.
The group discussions on drought and water conservation were facilitated by Mr. Sanjay Singh, Convenor- Jal Jan Jodo Abhiyan. Based on the discussions a drafting committee was formed under the leadership of Mr. Ransingh Parmar to draft recommendations.At the end of the event, the committee prepared 12 recommendations, which will be submitted to the government for further discussions.