Reviving

40

rivers and their tributaries across 4 states

More than

52,00,000

people benefitted

Benefitted

4613

villages

Increased water storage capacity of

2118

crore litres

Constructed

10,300

structures

Constructed

200 km long

continuous counter trenches

Overview

India is facing its worst water crisis in four decades. At least 54 percent of the sub-continent has turned into a water-stressed dust bowl with many rivers rapidly drying up. Experts opine that by 2025, the country will be facing an acute water crisis if no preventive measures are taken today.

To mitigate the water crisis, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has inspired The Art of Living community to revive lost rivers in various parts of India and other water bodies such as ponds, wells, canals and temple tanks.

The River Rejuvenation Project, which started in 2013 with the aim to provide a long-term and lasting solution, has revived 40 dying rivers in four states (Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala), benefitting 4,613 villages.

With meticulous planning and consistent efforts, results have come in: several rivers and other smaller bodies in these states have started flowing once again.

“We have always used the water from the holy rivers like Ganga and Yamuna to purify ourselves, but today we have reached a point where we have to purify this water. So, we are waging war against pollution in our rivers. The government alone cannot do it. We will have to come together.”
~ Gurudev
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Our strategy

Although the average amount of rainfall has remained the same over the past 50 years, many rain-fed rivers have become dry. It was found that the main cause behind this is not the lack of supply of water, but rather its mismanagement and unchecked overuse. Rain-fed rivers have dried because of disruption of natural groundwater recharge mechanisms, thereby disabling rivers from replenishing themselves.

The Art of Living devised a three-pronged approach for its river projects:

1. Comprehensive

Provide local solutions in a scientific manner that mimic natural systems for restoring water.

2. Sustainable

Solve the immediate needs of giving people access to safe water and also create systems that ensure reliable supplies in the future.

3. Community-driven

Empower local communities through capacity building frameworks.

Our project planning

One of the main reasons for the success of these river projects has been the adoption of a structured strategic planning process. Since 2013, the work was taken up in two stages - a short-term goal and a long-term goal - which included the following steps:

  • Desilting river beds and water bodies

De-silting has multiple benefits. It deepens the river bed and makes it possible to collect more water, and the silt is rich in nutrients.

  • Afforestation

Dr. Lingaraju Yale, Director of The Art of Living River Rejuvenation projects and a groundwater expert, found that rainfall levels, however dynamic the patterns, have not changed over the years. The problem is simply the way water is used. Rivers are fed by little streams which emerge from the hills, and these have gone dry, the sole cause is deforestation. Based on the findings, plantation activity has begun in catchment areas.

  • Change in cropping pattern

Farmers who could harvest only one crop per season are now able to harvest multiple crops. The yield has also increased by double.

Our Impact

  • 40 rivers and its tributaries being rejuvenated across Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala
  • Number of recharge structures - 10,300
  • Population benefitted - 5,200,000+
  • 4,613 villages benefitted
  • 200 km deep CCT, repair of check dams, construction of gabion structures
  • Increased water storage capacity - 2,118 crore liters
  • 512 tons of clothes, plastic, garbage removed during the Clean Yamuna Campaign
  • 68,800 volunteer hours spent on the Pampa river project

Improvements in groundwater levels

The primary impact of the river restoration projects has seen improvements in groundwater levels in the 7,500 sq. Km implementation area, over 65 percent of which is classified semi-critical, critical or overexploited by the Groundwater Surveys and Development Agency (GSDA).

Increasing farmers’ incomes

The consistency in water supply has augmented farmers’ incomes through improved agricultural yields and increased the number of crops per year, directly reducing farmer suicides.

Curbing water tanker mafia

This has helped to curb the water tanker mafia that has proliferated in the target regions during the past decade.

“Our village has been facing the water problem for last 15 years. We didn’t even have drinking water here. Helpless, we were forced to grow crops like tomatoes and millets, which do not fetch much money. Now, we have started growing rice. Next year, we plan to cultivate wheat and sugarcane. This is a huge step forward.”
- Balaraman, Farmer, Salamanthanam village, Vellore district, Tamil Nadu

Community engagement and employment generation

A significant proportion of these river restoration projects, executed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, generated 6.5 lakh days of direct rural employment.

  • 900 jal sevaks (water warriors), trained through capacity building workshops, created focused grassroots leadership in the villages.
  • 30,000 people were further sensitized through multi-level engagement, consisting of training, meetings and mass media use.
  • This approach of community engagement facilitated social equity, for instance in the Naganadhi River Rejuvenation project in Tamil Nadu, nearly 90 percent of the ongoing project workers are women.

Multiple partnerships with the governments

The success of the projects undertaken in partnership with the governments has resulted in major changes to the water policy and current government structures.

A partial list of rivers

Maharashtra

  • Jalgaon - Waki
  • Jalna - Narola, Bahiravi, Galhati, Soyanjana, Kasura, Vidrupa, Jatai Shankar
  • Nagpur - Venna
  • Latur - Gharni, Tavarja, Rena, Jana, Mudgul, Manjara
  • Osmanabad - Terna, Rajegavi, Bori, Benitura, Bhogwati
  • Satara - Mannganga
  • Pune - Shivganga
  • Ahmednagar - Sina
  • Nandurbar - Gomai
  • Nashik - Waghadi, Panzan, Kalki, Shivnadi

Karnataka

  • Bangalore - Kumudhvati
  • Kodagu - Cauvery
  • Chikmagalur, Hassan, Chitradurga – Vedavathi
  • Chikkaballapur - Palar, North Pennar

Tamil Nadu

  • Coimbatore - Kaushika, Noyyal
  • Dindigul - Varattaru
  • Vellore - Naganadi, Goddar, Pambaru

Kerala

  • Pampa

Future Outreach

Going forward, 70 lakh people from water-deficient regions spanning 25 districts in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan will be directly benefited by the improved availability of water.

Please reach out to us to know more about our water conservation projects and how we can partner to bring change.

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Contact Us

India office

Phone: +91 80 67612300​
Fax :+91 80 2843 2833
Email: secretariat@artofliving.org 
Address: Office of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, The Art of Living International Center, 21st KM, Kanakapura Road, Udaypura, Bangalore South, Karnataka - 560082, India

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