Water is clean, pious and indestructible, only harm we can do is polluting it. It has memory and once polluted it always strives to get back its past glory. We, here in this desert part of the world always have tried to harvest, respect and worship water. Unfortunately all over the world water is now a commodity, corporatized and sold as if a liquid gold whereas it should be respected, cherished and made available to all and sundry in its most natural form. Water is on its last legs. We are attempting to make water available to all (includes animals and plants) in its purest and cheapest way possible and for this cleansing the water ways, using innovative ideas, cleaning beautiful water harvesting heritage structures like step wells, Baolis and other water impounding structures.
Kriya Ka jhalra and Mahila Baag jhalra were cleaned, taking out many tractor trolleys full of rubbish from the bottom of the structures, later on 2015, we continued with the cleaning of Satyanarain ji ki bawadi then Suraj kund.
All this work has reached many people around Jodhpur and other parts of the world, in 2017 the American journalist Victoria Lautman, attracted by the magnificence of the ancient rainwater collection structures in India, found an immense variety of stepwells and the way in which the society in India worshipped and respected these structures in the past, also she encountered environmental activists who are taking actions to generate a change in the current society, that has left the ancestral wisdom in oblivion and has played down the importance of the conservation of wells and bawris; the work of Rajesh Joshi (GROW’s President) is referred at her book “The vanishing stepwells of India”, she mentions his efforts carried out in more than five bawris and jhalras, cleaned and revitalized, also she recognized the awareness created on the population about the caring of these structures and water.
The Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability from Virginia University has co-worked with Grow Sansthan (2015 to present), with its Executive Master in Natural Resources program, sending students to know the water situation in India, as part of the educational program we have shown them our work and how much there is still to be done for water, the great importance of the rescue of the ancestral knowledge and of the maintenance of the ancient structures for sustainable water management in the desert of Rajasthan, and by visiting the stepwells can observe directly the structures and the engineering, reiterating the importance of reactivation of such structures for the sensitization of the population in conservation of water. Winter programs held in Jodhpur with 60 students from USA so far.
He has also worked jointly with the educational-excursion organisation “Explorars” which lead programs of recreational education of students from India at different levels, classes at Jal Bhagirathi Foundation has been held, as Bijolai village works as model water harvesting structure to teach the students, since 2015 four sessions of educational programs have been led by Grow Sansthan there. The “Explorars” begun to work with Grow in 2015 with 79 students from the 7th & 8th grade, and going on every year until present days, with around 40 to 60 students every year.
Grow Sansthan have also worked-partner with “Rustic Pathways India” (RP) teaching enthusiastic young people from all around the world about the water issue, and they have also given support as volunteering to continue revitalizing water bodies and sensitizing population. RP summer and winter Programs (2015 to 2017 around 80 students in different groups from USA and Japan), plus 50 to 60 students in different public schools as Saraswati Bal Vidhya Mandir, where the volunteers, were giving classes about environmental and water conservation.
Every stepwell cleaned by Grow Sansthan needed at least four to six months of hard work, and the volunteers were showing slowly and in not a very consistent way, but thanks to the classes and educational programs held with the coworking partners and organisations, more and more people getting aware of the water situation and the importance of its conservation in different aspects. Such example is that in March 2018 Grow Sansthan led a massive march for asking the government for a solution in Gulab Sagar Lake due to its unhygienic conditions, now there are more and more people getting aware of water situation. Before Grow Sansthan’s work the vast majority of the stepwells were in deplorable state, and the community took no interest, inhabitants were without information and non awareness of the architectural and historical treasures in the city, and beyond the architectural recognition is emphasized the huge importance of taking care of water resources, and not only at the stepwells, but in daily life.
Thanks to the efforts made, the population around Mahila Baag Jhalra and Satyanarain ji ki bawri have become aware of the importance of maintaining the good conditions of the structures for the use of the water they contain and they have now been adopted by some neighbors for their cleaning and constant care, even in Satyanarain ji ki Bawri people swim in its waters in summer. Grow Sansthan work have bring a great benefit in the aquatic fauna at stepwells, turtles, frogs and fishes, previously dying because of high pollution of the water, nowadays you can see a population of healthy fish and some turtles that have also found a good home to live. Regarding the classes given, now many children know what it is rainwater harvesting, how it works and how our ancestors managed to have water available throughout the years, they also know the importance of water conservation.