What it takes to revive a drying river

I first caught an idea to rejuvenate water bodies when I was heading the Geomatics Center of Water Resources in the Government of Karnataka. I and my team, then, had rejuvenated a 60 km square streamlet. With this success, I thought why not do this on a large scale? I made several action plans to revive river basins nearby with the help of remote sensing technology. When I took these plans to different institutes, nobody supported me. Some even dismissed my ideas.

Little did I know that I’d be fulfilling a dream dear to me at an age when most people chill with their grandkids. In 2013, I was invited to launch a book I had penned on reviving the Kumudvathi river. After the launch, a bunch of people came to me saying “we want to do something for the Kumudavathi, tell us how we can help.”  I was pleasantly surprised. I decided to take them to the Kumudvathi basin the same week to start the rejuvenation project. I did not have a strategy in mind – just a technical plan. With not much idea on how we would exactly start and with what resources, we went to the basin to just at least ‘start and do something’. That one organic volunteer project has now grown to 43 rivers. The ideas that were once ridiculed are the cornerstone of each rejuvenation project. As for me, the rejuvenation project has rejuvenated me - a retired scientist in his 60s!

However, when we first started the  rejuvenation project near the Kumudvathi river basin, the villagers thought we were up to no good. A few of them would destroy the recharge structures we would build overnight. They would even steal our construction material at the river bank. This would happen just in 30 minutes when we’d go a little away to take a break! Every step we would take to progress, they would push us back to square one. The volunteers and I got the villagers together and educated them about our initiative.  As the locals became aware of the water crisis and began to witness tangible results on how their local wells had more water, they started to trust us and voluntarily came to help us in the rejuvenation of the basin. The project has taught me a wonderful lesson: No matter how much something may seem impossible and how much people may ridicule you for your dream being too big - if you are determined to work for the society and are persistent to do it – anything can happen in anyway. The universe comes to support you with  any resources you might need in the process, just remember not to give up too soon!” - Lingaraju Yale, Director, River Rejuvenation Projects, The Art of Living