The Water Brigade
Over the past six-eight years, certain changes have been taking place along the banks of the Sabarmati river. The Dharoi dam was built for supplying drinking water to urban areas like Ahmedabad. Later, Jeevantirth, the NGO, proposed instead to lay down a pipeline from Dharoi to Ahmedabad in order to prevent water loss when water is released into the already thin Sabarmati river.
The downstream riparian owners thereby received insufficient water and organized themselves as ‘sabar sena’ to protect their rights and their ecology. Once again the situation changed. While Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar would receive water from Narmada, the water from the Dharoi dam is being diverted towards the fluoride affected areas of north Gujarat. The downstream riparian owners therefore have to be satisfied with whatever is left in the catchments downstream. Under this background, the NGO proposes to form ‘Water Brigades’ in 20 villages as a step towards making people face challenges posed by changing ecological situations. These Water Brigades will be entirely taken care of by women. The NGO undertakes to conduct mass awareness campaigns, publish and disseminate educational material, develop working models of different rainwater harvesting structures, expose them to live demonstrations and finally develop a sound and sustainable water policy that is suitable to the local lifestyle and practices of the local people. Through this project the NGO aims to conserve local biodiversity and at the same time reduce the drudgery to the local people when it is a question of natural resource management.