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Mumbai Meet June 2013

22nd June 2013
 
This Caring Friends get-together, held at NICO Hall, Wadala, was our largest ever - with more than 230 friends and associates in attendance.
 
The Get-together was to share and present CF efforts to provide relief in the severely drought affected towns of Jalna, Akoladev, Temburni and 4 other villages of Jaffrabad Taluka, and Osmanabad in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra.
 
Highlights of Relief efforts of CF along with its associate, Dilasa Sanstha, during the period 15th March-15th June 2013 can be summed up as under-
 
SO FAR WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO ...
  • Provide 4,00,000 liters drinking water to about 16000 people.
  • Create Drinking water holes catering to more than 16000 domestic and wild animals.
  • Build 9 Check Dams.  One such check dam has already recharged 40 wells in Akoladev.
  • Remove 1,15,000 tractor trolleys of silt (about 300,000 cu.mtrs.- 50% of the total silt) from Jeev Rekha dam  and spread over 1500 acres of farm land making it extremely fertile.
  • Provide private CF NREGA to 300 people @ Rs 200 per day at Karjat village for about 15 days.
  • Create holding capacity of various dams totaling more than 15 crore litres.
  • Help Jalna City with Desilting of Ghanewadi Dam. Infused new spirit in them and they are now determined to clear the entire silt within next 3-4 years.
  • Link them with the administration, which resulted in the visit of the CM, Trustees of Siddhi Vinayak temple.  Govt. has released Rs.8 crores (out of Rs.25 crores donated by Siddhi Vinayak Trust) for creating 100 check dams on Shirpur pattern  which will recharge the ground water level all over Jalna.  
  • Provide 9 nos. of low cost water filters to ensure supply of pure water.  This has far reaching implications for the health of rural population.  Will scale up during the current year.
  • Reduce the drudgery of rural women by introducing Wello Wheel Drums which contain 60 litres of water and can easily be pulled by a girl of 12 years.  This can benefit poor rural and tribal women all over India and save millions of women-hours.  Will scale up during the current year.
  • Collect and spend about Rs.1.34 crores for the above work.
We have chalked out further ambitious relief plans over the next three years and are working hard to ensure their successful implementation, with your continued support and encouragement.

Detailed Report of  our Get-Together on 22nd June 2013

At the outset, Rameshji expressed his sympathies with the victims of the Uttarakhand disaster. All present observed a two-minute silence to express solidarity with the victims and prayed for the safe return of those stranded following the devastation caused by the cloudbursts and flash floods.

He welcomed all the attendees, including several special dignitaries who graced the occasion –

Shri Subhash Mayekar, President of  Shri Siddhi Vinayak Trust
Shri Mangesh Shinde and other Trustees of  Shri Siddhi Vinayak Trust,
Shri Babu Joseph, CEO of Axis Bank Foundation,
Shri Sudhakar Ram, CMD of Mastek Ltd.,
Shri Sanjiv Phansalkar, Program Leader, Sir Dorabji Tata Trust,
Shri M.B.L.Bhargava, Chairman of Letz Dream Foundation, New Delhi.
 
Moving on to the main agenda, Rameshji explained how extensive media coverage on the worst drought in Maharashtra in 40 years brought to light the scale and severity of the situation. Moved by reports of lakhs of people facing a severe water crisis and entire villages migrating in search of water, CF sprung into action. Nimeshbhai led a team of 16 CF associates on a “soul trip” (14th to 16th March 2013) to the worst affected areas in Jalna town, its neighboring villages and Osmanabad to understand the problems first-hand and to assess how best CF could provide relief to the drought-stricken region. After seeing vast stretches of dried up barren land and listening to several heart-rending stories from those affected, CF immediately began its Drought Relief Effort from 17th March 2013 itself.  He informed that the results achieved during a short span of 3 months have been heart-warming and reinforced our faith that determined self-effort and positive collaboration with the Administration is the right way forward.
 
CF had put up photos/details of the relief work undertaken through posters, in the main hall as well as in the Dining area, for open viewing and discussion.  A short video, commissioned by Mastek, was shown on drought-hit Jalna and Akoladev, and how CF’s relief initiatives, in collaboration with prominent local citizens and our close associate, Dilasa Sanstha, a reputed NGO, are making a real difference to the region.
 
Nimeshbhai then introduced 10 associates, who are working tirelessly to spearhead CF’s relief effort. The audience heartily applauded each of them.  He then held a interview-cum-discussion with 3 friends from Jalna – Rameshbhai Patel, Sunil Raithatta and Sunil Goyal – with whom CF has forged a formidable relationship to take the relief agenda further. All three are prominent businessmen, strongly devoted to social causes, most prominent being addressing the acute water shortage problem in Jalna.
 
Highlights of the Drought Relief Efforts that they spoke about:
 
Desilting Ghanewadi Dam –  The Ghanewadi Dam (spread over 630 acres; capacity 144,40,000 cu.mtrs.) is the main source of drinking water supply to Jalna city since 1935. The drying up of the dam and the silt accumulation over decades in the main dam at Ghanewadi supplying water to Jalna city has completely choked the city’s water supply. Experts estimate the accumulated silt at 14,00,000 tractor loads. Today, Jalna city (population: 4 lakh) gets tap water for just an hour a month. Jalna presently survives on tanker water and is known as the “Tanker Town”. Water tanker rates exorbitant and the poorest sections are worst hit. Distressed by the acute water shortage, they launched a project to desilt Ghanewadi dam by forming an NGO, “Ghanewadi Sanrakshan Manch”, which cleared silt to the extent of 1,24,000 tractor loads in 3 years, i.e. 2010 – 2012 by spending Rs.70 lakhs  (own donations plus contribution from friends).  However, with no support no support from the Government or Administration, the morale within their group was low and public confidence was missing.
 
It was against this gloomy backdrop that that the CF Team lead by Nimeshbhai arrived in Jalna.  CF fully understood the need for the continued success of the desilting project.  To lift the sagging morale and to instill renewed confidence, Nimeshbhai immediately announced a financial aid of Rs. 10 lakhs and assured help from the local administration by involving our valued associate, Dr. Avinash Pol, Satara, known for his ‘magical’ ability to get the Government machinery moving. Another valued CF associate, Dr.Avinash Saoji, organized a  “Shramdan” Camp in which 200 students from all over Maharashtra, and more than 1000 people from Jalna participated.  This was also a great morale booster.
 
Till date in 2013,  72,000 tractor loads of silt has been taken out and the plan is to desilt the dam fully in 3 years, with which Ghanewadi dam’s full capacity will available to adequately serve the citizens of Jalna through the year.  The Ghanewadi Sanrakshan Manch has also started ancillary work in the catchment area by carrying out tree plantation and contour bunding.  In conclusion, Rameshbhai Patel, Sunil Raithatta and Sunil Goyal said: “Our success has been possible only because of the timely help, support and motivation from Nimeshbhai and the CF team.”
 
Nimeshbhai added that the Ghanewadi work has become a role model showcasing the strength of collective/collaborative efforts and people participation.  Many dignitaries, including CM of Maharashtra and entire team of Shri Siddhi Vinayak Trustees have visited Ghanewadi and appreciated the efforts. Through the efforts of Dr.Avinash Pol, Shri Siddhi Vinayak Trust, Mumbai, has donated Rs. 8 crores to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for building 100 Check Dams in Jalna.  These water blocking walls are to be built on the Shirpur pattern of water conservation, a highly successful model developed by Mr. Suresh Khanapurkar of Shirpur, District Dhule. CF as contacted Mr. Suresh and he has readily agreed to guide this effort. The Ghanewadi team has already built two Check Dams, and the balance 98 will be built during the year raising the ground water level in the entire region.
 
Nimeshbhai reminded that the Jalna team needed our financial support to clear the balance silt measuring 12 lakh tractor loads over the next three years. The audience applauded the team from Jalna for their outstanding efforts and Nimeshbhai wished them continued success.
 
Moving on, Nimeshbhai invited the team from Dilasa Sanstha, a NGO focused on creating infrastructure for sustaining livelihoods of marginalized communities like small farmers, landless, and women. Nimeshbhai said that such is Dilasa’s track-record and credibility that it is supported by nine top funding agencies including Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Sir Ratan Tata Trust, Axis Bank Foundation, NABARD and Oxfam. He then invited the Dilasa team leader, Mr. Madhukar Dhas, and his associate, Mansoorbhai along with Dr.Avinash Pol, Laxman Sawade and his colleague, Dutta Wagade, for a discussion on their work and experiences.
 
Highlights of the discussion:
 
Visit to Akoladev (population – 4500), Temburni (population - 12,500) and 4 other villages near Jalna -   On the suggestion of Dr.Avinash Pol, the CF Team visited Akoladev Village,  which was totally starved of water.  Villagers were sending their cattle to cattle camps and also readying to move to nearby cities.  CF had a valuable contact in Laxman Sawade, an award winning farmer at the State level.  Helpless due to the drought, he was seeking work under MGNREGA. He and his friends readily joined hands with the CF Team in an attempt to bring water to this parched village and surrounding villages. Between, 16th and 20th March 2013, with the active involvement of Madhukar Dhas and Mansoorbhai, they dug a well in the Jeev-Rekha Dam, installed a large pump, laid a pipeline of 700 meters and connected the same to the Akoladev village well, from where water flowed to the villagers through existing pipeline. The residents as well as the Adminstration were overjoyed and greatly enthused with this achievement.
 
Desiltation and revival of Jeev-Rekha Dam: 
Jeev-Rekha Dam is also spread over 600 acres, but filled with silt 2-3 metres deep.  The Dilasa team, along with Laxman Sawade and his team, have worked day and night braving temperature as high as 42 degrees for the last three months  to de-silt the dam. Within three months they have cleared 115,000 tractor loads of silt, and the work work to clear balance 50% silt will be taken up after the rainy season. Also, 1500 acres of  agriculture land has been made fertile by making use of the desilted soil.  More importantly, 9 other wells which supply water to 6 other villages including Temburni started receiving water, with residents receiving regular water supply from mid-May 2013.
 
Dr.Avinash Pol ensured full support of administration by arranging the visits of Collector, Tahsildar, BDO, etc. by showing them the tremendous work done by Dilasa and local people with the help of CF.  The local administration also extended help wherever possible. The Dilasa team concluded that the permanent solution lay in developing the water impounding structures built on the Doha Model. They constructed 14 such structures which can store 150 million litres of water.  In addition, it will also support ground water tables of nearby wells.  The rainy season has already started on a good note and water has started collecting in all these structures.
 
Visit to Osmanabad:  CF found the situation in Osmanabad to be no different.  Dilasa Sanstha, in partnership with SamajVikas Sanstha (Founder – BhoomiputraWagh), has launched efforts to address the acute water scarcity, which will benefit nearly 7000 people.
 
Adopting Karjat Village:  This needs a special mention.  Mumbai Mirror, a local daily, had carried a prominent feature on Karjat village recently highlighting the migration from there due to water scarcity. Moved by the plight of these farmers, CF adopted the village.  It provided 10,000 liters of drinking water daily for the 2000+ people.  CF also started its own version of NREGA, by providing work to approx 300 persons daily for Rs 200/day. This resulted in the return of 65 people, who had migrated.   Dilasa is now making efforts towards a lasting solution to the water problem here.
 
The combined team efforts of Dilasa and CF have resulted in providing regular water supply to nearly 35,000 people and same numbers of livestock and wild animals. Construction of Doha Model infrastructure will ensure regular supply of water on a sustainable basis.  It has also established a model of cooperation between local people, administration and NGOs to solve the long term problem at minimum cost and maximum benefits on a sustainable basis.
 
Future plans on this front include:
  • To undertake revival of Jeev-Rekha River and Dam with Ridge To Valley or Top to Bottom approach, (including complete de-siltation of tank) in next three years. The total stream network  length of Jeev Rekha river is 35 km. Doha model will be placed along this stream length with proper selection and cost saving. This will done after detailed technical survey and planning.
  • To develop 200 small Doha models in 22 villages of Jafrabad block (i.e. Akoladev, Temburni, and other villages) for ensuring permanent availability of water in this region.
  • To develop pasture land and drinking water for Deer & other wild animals.
  • To develop Karjat Village as a Model for self sufficiency regarding water availability round the year

The overall impact of the work planned will be as under:

  • Cover 22 villages comprising 46000 populations of Jafrabad block of Jalna District.
  • 100% desilatation of Jiv Rekha Dam reservoir, which will fertilize another 1500 acres of land.
  • Will solve drinking water problem in another 22 villages on a sustainable basis.
  • Will increase ground water tables in 12000 hectares i.e.30,000 acres.
  • Nearly 6000 farmers will benefit by irrigation improvement.
Rameshji and Nimeshbhai thanked the audience for their interest and support. They expressed confidence that similar support would continue so that the future plans can be successfully implemented in a timely manner, ensuring sustainable development.
 
The interaction/discussions between the attendees and the CF team/visiting guests continued over dinner as well.