19 January, 2021

How Green Is My Desert

Raised amid the daily struggles for water, this eco-volunteer is turning Rajasthan green

How Green Is My Desert
In Manapia and Damodara villages deep in Rajasthan’s Thar desert, women cannot hide the joy on their faces. They no longer have to trudge endless miles across scorching sands in search of water for their families and livestock. Water is now at their doorstep, perennially. The picture is no different in nearby villages like Dujasar, Khadera, Kahala, Masurdi, Kuldhara and Gorera. Set in India’s lowest rainfall region that ekes out a bare existence from farming and animal husbandry, these villages are today harnessing their meagre share of the monsoons to keep a steady supply of water all the year round.

The life-sustaining oasis in the region owes a lot to Jethu Singh Bhati, a 36-year-old agriculturist, better known as an eco-volunteer and the general secretary of an NGO, the Thar Integrated Social Development Society (TISDS). Convinced that "the comfort of piped water supply has spoilt people and bred wasteful water habits," Bhati, a postgraduate in sociology, is reviving long-forgotten rainwater-harvesting systems and developing a drought-proof model for Jaisalmer...



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