BENGALURU: Ayyappa Masagi, earned the title of Water Gandhi of India, after having spearheaded water conservation projects in over 4,000 locations including 3,000 homes and 70 industries. He turned a parched rocky expanse into one of his three lush farms, 70 km away from Bengaluru, where he grows vegetables and millets.
Masagi runs the show from the Sahakarnagar-headquartered Water Literacy Foundation and says that you can best the harshest summer or even drought by conserving rainwater.
He says, “If it does not rain adequately for first 30 or 45 days, then people decide it is a drought. Farmers keep staring at the sky for rains and start pleading with the government for crop-loss compensation.
Then Nature plays truant and pours down in torrents, causing floods and crop loss.” Masagi must know, he has lost harvests to drought and flooding in succession before he started his research into watershed management, water conservation, inter-basin transfer and recycling of water.
Praveenkumar, manager with WLF and rain water harvesting expert, says that conserving when there is plenty and using the reserve when there is a shortage is what their current research is on at their instructional farms in Holavanahalli (Tumkuru) and Veerapur (Gadag) in Karnataka and Chilamathur (Ananthpur) in Andra Pradesh.
“We have been working on rainwater harvesting by constructing ponds, lakes, soak pits, soak trenches, compartment bunding, grey water harvesting and direct borewell recharging, along with traditional drip irrigation and its improvised version. We have named it as sub-surface drip irrigation. This method is used to recharge sub-soil, deep soil and underground water.”
Easy to Fix
Masagi says that rainfall or the lack of it is not the problem. “Community’s attitude to water is causing all the miseries... in the future, only he who harvests rainwater and grey water, will survive.”
They claim that India can become water-efficient country by 2020, if we conserve rainwater. “Solutions are as simple as rainwater harvesting and grey-water harvesting,” says Masagi, who did his mechanical engineering and worked with L&T for more than two decades, before becoming a ‘water warrior’.
Praveenkumar points out a common mistake peole make with rainwater harvesting. “Your sump (underground water tank level) should not be full,” he says. “During heavy rains, overflowing sumps can be as bad as not implementing rainwater harvesting.
We suggest that people keep their sumps empty by pumping water to their roof-top tanks and store as much rainwater as possible. Also, take the sump overflow and recharge the groundwater table by making recharge wells or through direct borewell-recharging.”