India’s groundwater crisis is a pressing concern, but The Art of Living is taking proactive measures to address it. Their commendable River Rejuvenation Project aims to revive desiccated rivers sustainably. A report highlights that 63% of Indian districts face declining groundwater levels, underscoring the situation’s urgency. With a systematic and scientific approach, The Art of Living is working diligently to rejuvenate rivers and ensure water supply for rural India. Reviving rivers is crucial for the well-being of both rural and urban communities. The Art of Living’s commitment to this sustainable approach showcases their determination to tackle India’s water scarcity issue.
The Solution & Methodologies
The Art of Living team uses a comprehensive approach to restore the hydrological cycle and revitalise water bodies. This involves restoring rivers, drains, lakes, and ponds to their natural state, enabling efficient rainwater capture. Local communities are actively involved, and capacity building through training is emphasised. Afforestation and soil conservation measures are implemented. Specialised structures designed by their scientists, hydrogeologists, and GIS experts maximise water percolation into groundwater aquifers. Some of these structures include :
Implementing Boulder Checks proves to be a highly effective method for reducing water runoff velocity. These structures aid in increasing soil moisture and play a crucial role in preventing erosion. The successful implementation of this technique is evident in its application within the Bundelkhand watershed project.
Recharge Wells enhance groundwater recharge through stream network channels. These wells, typically 6-metre deep and 1-metre in diameter, constructed with concrete rings, are filled with jelly and gravel material. Recharge wells have proven to be a highly effective method of water conservation, successfully implemented in numerous projects.
Recharge Borewells or Injection Wells revitalise Deeper Aquifers through Groundwater Recharge. These borewells are typically drilled to depths ranging from 80 to 100 metres, serving as focused water recharge points. They are crucial in augmenting groundwater recharge within dried-up fracture horizons and lineament zones.
Recharge Shafts serve as essential recharge structures in ponds and play a crucial role in water conservation. These structures feature deep rectangular filter chambers that act as natural filters. These structures facilitate the natural recharge of groundwater levels by enabling water to penetrate up to 100 feet.
Gabion Structures are built along the stream flow using locally sourced boulders. These structures, known as boulder checks, effectively slow down the water flow and promote soil moisture recharge. This, in turn, facilitates the growth of natural vegetation.
A Subsurface Dyke is a barrier built below the ground in the permeable zone to prevent the base flow from flowing downstream and enhance the water level on the upstream side. Through obstruction of the natural flow of water, a subsurface dyke controls the amount of water stored in an aquifer.
Desiltation restores water-carrying capacity and harness nutrient-rich silt for soil enrichment. Desilting involves gradually removing accumulated silt from water bodies over the years. This crucial process aids in rejuvenating the water body’s ability to carry water. At the same time, the extracted silt, abundant in nutrients, can be utilized as a valuable soil enhancer in agricultural practices.
Deep Contour Trenches work well in low rainfall regions mitigating soil erosion and enhancing soil moisture. Deep contour trenches are particularly suitable for areas experiencing rainfall below 750 mm per year, with up to 8% slopes. These purposeful channels are designed to effectively combat soil erosion while increasing the soil’s moisture content.
Farm Ponds enhance surface water accessibility for livestock and local needs. Water reservoirs are strategically built at the confluence of streams to minimize evaporation losses and capture subsurface flow. Serving as micro eco-restoration cells, these ponds facilitate water availability while promoting ecological balance.
Implementing the aforementioned watershed projects can yield substantial outcomes in water conservation and reduction of soil erosion. Integrating these techniques makes it possible to prolong the lifespan of water streams and ensure sustainable water availability for diverse purposes.
Reflecting a significant impact on the drying up of rivers
The River Rejuvenation Project, led by The Art of Living, has significantly impacted the issue of rivers drying throughout the nation. Let’s explore some notable achievements in various states:
The project is successfully rejuvenating twenty-two rivers and streams in Karnataka, including Kumudvathi, Vedavathi, and Palar. The Kumudvathi watershed spans over 200 villages and covers a catchment area of more than 460 square kilometres, positively influencing 1,90,000+ people. The Vedavathi project, which encompasses a larger area, has benefited numerous communities relying on river water for household and agricultural purposes. In the Karnataka State, desilting efforts have covered over 96,000+ square kilometres, with 155,000+ trees planted. These initiatives have directly impacted more than 13,000 villages in Karnataka.
In Tamil Nadu, an impressive achievement of rejuvenating 23 rivers and streams has been accomplished. This remarkable outcome was made possible by constructing over 6,500 structures, providing substantial benefits for over 1,400 villages. The positive impact of these initiatives spans a vast area exceeding 18,085 square kilometres.
In Uttar Pradesh, the river rejuvenation work has benefitted 41 villages and changed the status of 2 blocks – Chamraua and Saidnagar favourably, as per the reports by Central Groundwater Board.
In Andhra Pradesh, river rejuvenation efforts have commenced in the Cuddapah and Anantapur districts focusing on the Penna and Papagani river basins.
In Maharashtra, the River Rejuvenation Project has successfully restored 33 rivers and streams, significantly improving the lives of over 2,075,000 people.
The dedicated efforts of The Art of Living volunteers have played a crucial role in restoring and revitalising rivers and streams, positively impacting millions of people across the country.