Villagers of drought-hit Latur in Marathwada with the help from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art Of Living (AOL) programme, has rejuvenated the dried up Manjara river in the district.
The project involved desilting 18 km along the Sai barrage to increase its holding capacity to 18.5 million cubic metre. Latur requires 18.25 million cubic meter water per annum. There are also plans to remove about 45 lakh cubic metre of silt.
A media report suggest that the effort to revive Manjra was steered by Mahadev Gomare and Makrand Jadhav, both followers of spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art Of Living (AOL), began in February 2013. Both convinced sarpanchs in Marathwada to attend a three-day camp in Bengaluru.
“In 2013, we succeeded in convincing people in three villages in Latur district to pool in money to carry out desilting work as well as construct low-cost Gabion structures to trap rain water,” Gomare said.
This led to improve the water levels in borewells and wells in surrounding villages. A part of it was funded by AOL, but people contributed too. Afterwards, 50 smaller projects were completed through people’s participation.
The methods used by AOL to rejuvenate the parched region are desilting nullahs, gabion structures and arresting rain water in rivers and rivulets.
Reports say Sri Sri Ravi Shankar gave Rs 1 crore for the project while citizens contributed with funds and sought support for the Rs 8-crore project.
AOL had claimed that its project ‘Jal Jagruti Abhiyaan’ has benefited over two lakh people in the drought-affected districts of Maharashtra since its launch in 2013.
“About 28.5 lakh cubic meters of silt have been removed from six rivers in Latur, one of the worst drought-hit districts, due to which 10,150 acres of land have been irrigated,” Foundation’s founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, said.
“In the wake of severe drought conditions in several districts of Maharashtra, Art of Living volunteers under the project have been actively working towards reviving, cleaning and rejuvenating water bodies in Latur, Jalgaon, Osmanabad, Jalna, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Sangli, Nashik, Satara,” he said.
Under the river rejuvenation project, the foundation has identified 17 rivers in the country, out of which 13 are in Maharashtra.