Aqua Marines

India Today - - SAFAI GIRI - —Ki­ran D. Tare

In 2015, Ma­ha­rash­tra chief min­is­ter Deven­dra Fad­navis de­puted his prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary Praveen Pardeshi, a se­nior IAS of­fi­cial, to con­vince ac­tor Aamir Khan to get in­volved in the state’s flag­ship wa­ter con­ser­va­tion scheme, Ja­lyukt Shivar Ab­hiyan. The next year, Paani Foun­da­tion, an NGO founded by a team of the TV se­ries Satyamev Jay­ate, led by Khan and his wife Ki­ran Rao, started work­ing to­wards erad­i­cat­ing wa­ter scarcity with peo­ple’s par­tic­i­pa­tion.

With ‘Toofan aalayaa’ (the storm has ar­rived) as its theme song, Paani Foun­da­tion has lit­er­ally stormed pub­lic minds with its mes­sage of wa­ter con­ser­va­tion and shram­daan (vol­un­tary con­tri­bu­tion in­volv­ing phys­i­cal work) in 24 out of Ma­ha­rash­tra’s 38 dis­tricts in the past three years.

The foun­da­tion has cre­ated train­ing films, an An­droid app as well as train­ing man­u­als to spread pub­lic aware­ness. It also con­ducts an an­nual com­pe­ti­tion, the Satyamev Jay­ate Wa­ter Cup, in which vil­lages com­pete to win prizes for the best wa­ter­shed man­age­ment and wa­ter con­ser­va­tion project. Be­gin­ning with three talukas and 116 vil­lages in 2016, the cup grew 25 times in 2018 to reach 75 talukas and 4,025 vil­lages in Ma­ha­rash­tra. The work car­ried out dur­ing the com­pe­ti­tion this year re­sulted in 3,521,870 new saplings, which have been nur­tured in vil­lage nurs­eries, and an an­nual wa­ter har­vest­ing ca­pac­ity of 22,269 crore litres.

LABOUR OF LOVE Aamir Khan and Ki­ran Rao help build wa­ter­shed struc­tures in So­la­pur, Ma­ha­rash­tra

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