THE GAME CHANGER

COM­MU­NITY MO­BILISER SHIRISH APTE, MA­HA­RASH­TRA

India Today - - SAFAIGIRI - —Ki­ran D. Tare

Shirish Apte, su­per­in­ten­dent engi­neer, Ma­ha­rash­tra wa­ter re­sources de­part­ment, has al­ways been proud of the her­itage of mal­gu­jar tanks in his na­tive district Bhan­dara. His in­ter­est in them be­came more than merely aca­demic when he was posted in Bhan­dara as an ex­ec­u­tive engi­neer in 2008.

“I was posted in Bhan­dara to com­plete a World Bank project by 2013,” says Apte. “I de­cided to utilise this op­por­tu­nity to re­ju­ve­nate the mal­gu­jar tanks.” In ex­is­tence for over 300 years, the tanks were not be­ing main­tained be­cause of a dis­pute be­tween the state gov­ern­ment and the own­ers over own­er­ship. Th­ese tanks were once a ma­jor wa­ter source for the district, but due to ne­glect, wa­ter lev­els had fallen.

Apte galvanised the gov­ern­ment sys­tem first. He got per­mis­sion from his se­niors to use de­part­ment ma­chin­ery for dig­ging. They also sanc­tioned ex­pen­di­ture for the diesel re­quired. Then, Apte mo­bilised vil­lagers to help. He chose a tank at Jamb­hora, a vil­lage of 400 house­holds. Within a year, the wa­ter level of the tank in­creased by al­most two me­tres. It also led to an in­crease in the wa­ter level in the vil­lage well. Nearby vil­lages fol­lowed suit af­ter the suc­cess­ful ex­per­i­ment. The state gov­ern­ment con­trols 25 mal­gu­jar tanks in Bhan­dara. Out of them, 22 had been re­vived by 2013. Af­ter 2013, the zilla parishad also un­der­took re­vival of the tanks in its ju­ris­dic­tion. It has re­vived 90 tanks so far, apart from the 22 tanks re­vived by the state gov­ern­ment.

MAN­DAR DEODHAR

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