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17
Aug 2014

COME, JOIN US… THIS GANESHOTSAV, FOR A DROUGHT-FREE MAHARASHTRA: ABHIJIT PAWAR
9:10 am UTC

Lord Ganesha will be arriving in our homes shortly, bringing with him happiness and joy. The Ganesh festival, has always been seen as a platform for discussing and debating contemporary social issues and finding solutions for the same. Keeping with the tradition, the Sakal Media Group is announcing the Sarva Jal Abhiyaan (Water for All campaign) which will start with a Jal Dindi (water rally).
We would like to urge people across the State to join the campaign and commit themselves to make the State drought-free. For years, we have been tormented by the problem of water shortage and drought. Every summer, women especially, have to walk for long distances to fetch water. The water scarcity issue usually gets debated passionately during the summer months, but is promptly forgotten once monsoon arrives.
For the past one and half years, the Sakal Media Group has been actively researching the problem of water scarcity in the State and identifying the solutions. Following discussions with various stakeholders such as water experts, bureaucrats, politicians, NGOs and village women, it is clear to us that it is completely possible for us to make Maharashtra drought-free. Of course,this will require thorough planning and implementation and cannot be achieved without the support of the people.
The Jal Dindi will commence from the holy Ashta Vinayak pilgrim centres (eight, holy Ganesha temples) and will go to different corners of the State, garnering people’s support in making the State drought-free. Ganesh mandals in the State, which have had a long tradition of social commitment, will also participate in this rally.
Last year, Maharashtra witnessed a severe drought. Water tankers and fodder camps were in the news. This prompted
us to look at the problem in entirety. No problem can be solved if viewed in isolation. A comprehensive overview is needed to find solutions.
We began work in April 2013 with a water conference in Mumbai. It was attended by various stakeholders and we published the first draft of our water campaign on October 18, the same year. Simultaneously, we also
launched the ‘Maharashtra’s Expectations’ programme with the view to provide direction for the development of Maharashtra.
People across the State responded to this programme with enthusiasm. We took into consideration, the view of every sector and prioritized certain sectors. The women who participated in our Tanishka Women’s Dignity programme clearly identified water as a focus area. We accepted this suggestion and began our scientific research on the subject.
Meanwhile, in Malaysia, the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) in the Prime Minister’s Office had played a crucial role in ensuring the rapid, socioeconomic transformation of that country. The Sakal Media Group decided to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with PEMANDU to achieve similar results in Maharashtra. This is a rare instance of an Indian company collaborating with a department of a sovereign republic. The immediate outcome was a six-week, Water Lab, conducted in Mumbai in June 2014. The lab was conducted by the Sakal Media Group’s independent NGO, Delivering Change Foundation (DCF)which has been set up to drive transformative, socio-economic programmes. The lab saw a total of 77 bureaucrats, water experts, representatives from NGOs and corporates, who debated and discussed threadbare, the water woes of Maharashtra. Thirty two implementable solutions have been identified to make the State drought-free. The lab was visited by politicians from all major parties and water
experts from across the world.
It may be recalled that our group had announced on March 9, 2013, that it would identify solutions to make the State drought free. The 32 solutions identified in the Water Lab are proof of that commitment. The Sarva Jal Abhiyan and the Jal Dindi are hence the first steps in making the State drought-free. The Jal Dindi will prove crucial in mobilizing people from across the State in this fight against drought. It is the start of a movement aimed at making the State water sufficient. A movement which aims at putting a stop to our sisters in villages having to walk long distances to fetch water and also providing our farmer brothers their rightful share of water. We also feel, that there is no better time than the Ganesh festival to kick-start this movement.
The Jal Dindi, which will commence from eight, Ashta Vinayak pilgrim centres will carry holy water as a symbolic blessing of the Lord to the different parts of Maharashtra. The Dindi will take the message of the new water policy across the State. Wherever the Dindi will go, local citizens will be enlightened about the remedial measures to solve the water crisis in the State. An appeal will be made to the citizens to participate in the implementation of the solutions at the village level.
Of course, several policy changes need to be made to solve the water problems in the State. For instance, there is an urgent need to repair dams, canals, borewells, de-silt wells and make use of the drip irrigation techniques. Such initiatives will necessarily bring together the collective strength of society. Only collectively can we transform this State. The Dindi has been designed to carry this message of transformation across the State.
Simultaneously, we are also appealing to Ganesh mandals all over the State to participate in this endeavour. We are
announcing a decoration competition for Ganesh mandals on the issue of water. The mandals can also undertake social projects like cleaning lakes or wells in their areas or guiding their village towards water sufficiency.
Water for agriculture, drinking water, water for the industries and drainage water have all been into account in the five-year-long ‘Water For All’ programme.
We urge everybody to participate in this programme and support the efforts to make the State drought-free. The planning is based on scientific study. The Sakal Media Group is committed to ensure success of this programme. We are confident all of you will extend support for the welfare of Maharashtra.
Water was identified as a focus area, following feedback from the women in the state. Likewise, the people of the State have expressed their expectations in 16 sectors including industry, education, health, infrastructure, rural development and agriculture in our group’s ‘Maharashtra’s Expectations’ campaign.
The Sakal Media Group will take up each of these expectations through the DCF. For each sector, PEMANDU and the Sakal Media Group will organize a lab which will guarantee time-bound planning. This is an initiative undertaken to usher in a prosperous State. The Sarva Jal Abhiyan is the first step in that direction. Come and participate in the movement.

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