By: Cashmira Pramanik, Yash Baheti (Acara Corps Fellows)

We started for Delhi on the night of 30th June. We boarded the bus at 11.30 p.m. and it took us five and half hours to reach Kashmeri Gate .After getting down from bus at 5.30 p.m, we headed towards IIT Delhi. It was a forty-five minute auto-ride till the IIT Delhi Guest House. We checked into the guest house where we stayed during our four day visit to Delhi.

31st May- In the morning, we tried to find out which are the organizations working on water resource management and conservation in Delhi. We identified three such organizations- Development Alternatives, Centre for Science and Environment, and WAPCOS (Water and Power Consultancy Services). In the afternoon we started for the farm of IDEI (International Development Enterprises, India), an NGO (Non Governmental Organization). The farm is located in the outskirts of the city. It took us around two hours to reach there by auto. There, we met Mr. Ajay Kumar Tanwar, who is the Manager of Research & Development Department. He took us on a one and half hour tour around the 2 acre farm and showed us the various products IDEI have developed till now. During our interaction with Mr.Tanwar we discussed the features, advantages and limitations of various types of drip irrigation and sprinkler systems systems, manual pumps and water storage devices. What we found out was that the key feature of all IDEI products is they are all manually operated. No electricity supply is required for the same. We had a cup of tea with Mr.Tanwar and his subordinates. He gave us his contact number and email address as well as that of Mr Kapil Singla who is the chief technical expert of IDEI and unfortunately was on leave when we visited. He suggested us to consult Mr.Singla for agricultural advices for implementing in Charba and collect the brochures from Delhi office.

1st June- We visited the Development Alternatives office at Kishangarh, Vasant Kunj in New Delhi. Development Alternatives (DA) is a NGO with the focus to create large scale sustainable livelihood. DA started working 25 years ago in the field of sustainable development and it is continually working in areas like land, water, energy, and habitat and resource management. At the DA office, we met Mr. George C Varughese; the President of DA Group. He is a graduate of the department of Civil Engineering Department of IIT Roorkee and was very cordial. He pointed out a few important things. He exhorted us to find out about the degree of influence of the village Panchayat as well as that of the Pradhan. According to him, only if the Pradhan is influential, then creating ownership of an operation would be very easy but once another person becomes the Pradhan then fall of such a movement would also be very fast. But if the Panchayat is dominant, then success of such a movement or initiative would be sustainable. So he advised us to find out the influence of both the Panchayat and Pradhan and work towards a secured and sustainable ownership creation. Then he joined us and we visited the model village named Taragram which they have developed near Jhansi so that we can have a better exposure towards development of a model village and that would help us in our work in Charba. And, he assured us of receiving any technical consultancy that we may ask for free of cost from the technical experts of DA.

Then we meet Mrs. Kiran Sharma, Vice President of DA Group. She too encouraged us to visit Taragram and urged us to collaborate and work with Development alternatives. After that we talked more about Taragram with Mr. Rahul Priyadarshi, Associate Manager Programme. He enlightened us about the various activities perpetuating in Charba with special stress on water management since that was our area of interest. He then provided us with last year’s annual report of DA and the brochures. He took our contact numbers and made arrangements for our visit to Jhansi. He requested us to give him information about our date and plan of visit before 8th of June.. We thanked him and left DA office at around 5.00 p.m.

2nd June: We reached the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) at Tughlakabad Institutional Area in New Delhi at around 10.30 a.m. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is a public interest research and advocacy organization based in New Delhi. CSE researches into, lobbies for and communicates the urgency of development that is both sustainable and equitable.At CSE, we met Mr.Merajuddin Ahmad, Senior Research Associate, Water Programme Unit. When we enlightened him about our project in Charba, he explained to us about the various technicalities of rainwater harvesting. He even told us to consider grey water harvesting as another economic and sustainable option. He urged us to find out about the history of water supply and management in the village of Charba, the pattern of rainfall, the history of the ponds in the village and exhorted us to trace the background of water crisis, when it erupted and what would have been the possible causes. Then he recommended us to buy some manuals and books from their centre. After that, he took us on a trip round the CSE building which has been made green by implementing rain water, grey water and black water harvesting and biomass management. Lastly we thanked him, bought the books as he had advised collected CSE brochures and left at 2.00 p.m.

3rd June: We went to the office of WAPCOS in New Delhi .It is a flag ship PSU(Public Sector Unit) of Ministry of Water Resources, engaged in total consultancy in water resources, water supply, hydro power and allied sectors. In the office we met the PA (Private Assistant) of Mr.R.K.Gupta, Chairman cum Managing Director of WAPCOS. We told him about ourselves, Acara and our project in Charba. She apprised us that Mr S.K.Ahuja, General Manager of Production Department was the right person for technical support and consultancy and advised us to visit the WAPCOS office in Gurgaon which houses the technical department. Lastly she gave us the WAPCOS brochure. We thanked her and left.

We plan to work simultaneously for addressing the water crisis in Charba as well as for implementing drip irrigation technology in the village. During our interaction with Mr.Ajay Tanwar of IDEI, we found out that sub surface drip irrigation techniques are being employed for sugarcane and wheat cultivation which too are the principle crops in Charba. This fact envisages the market we can have in Charba. Right now, our work would be to expose the villagers about this technology and observe their reaction towards the same. For that, we can install three to four drip irrigation kits in Charba and with the help of Pradhan apprise the farmers regarding this advanced system of irrigation. Besides, it would also help us comprehend the effectiveness of drip irrigation in reducing water requirement as well as enhancing quality and quantity of production. Simultaneously we would also have to interact with villagers, identify champions who can emerge as responsible persons to keep the system working. These champions with the help of proper mentoring and support would emerge as entrepreneurs.

For addressing the water scarcity, we have to track more intensively the history of the village which has been very rightly pointed out by Mr.Ahmad of CSE. Depending on the patterns of rainfall, the available infrastructure and support, the geographical features and economic feasibility we would work towards implement sustainable water harvesting technologies. For these, we can collaborate with organizations like WAPCOS, CSE and DA and rope in their technical support.