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Nature-based approach needed to deal with global water issues

Stockholm (Sweden) : After receiving the Stockholm Water Prize 2015, I have made a promise to dedicate the rest of my life to water conservation.

For creating an understanding of water, we have started a World Water Walk for Peace. The World Water Walk for Peace, in the first year, is going world over and through which people like me working on issues like water conservation, water harvesting, disciplined use of water, saving water and creating awareness, would be talking about some best practices being used.

This walk was initiated at South Korea in the month of April, carried over to Israel, UK & Stockholm, Sweden.

In India, the Walk would be started on September 5 in New Delhi from Mahatma Gandhi's samadhi to Kumbh. From India, we would be heading straight to California, which has been successful in dealing with water crisis.

This US State would be a very interesting part of the Walk as the use of bottled water is quite high there and companies are selling water in the bottles & earning as high as 200 per cent profit. So, this State wants to stop sales of bottled water and wants to promote Metro Water. We would be spending 20 days there for this Walk as the State wants communitisation of water and not corporatisation of water.

The next stop for us is Hanover, Germany in the month of October. This would be followed by Hungary, Syria & Slovakia. This is a three-month programme.

I strongly believe that America & European countries are among the fortunate ones with abundance of water & other natural resources but this is not sustainable in the long run unless the same are used wisely & respected. In order to maintain balance on water resources, we are approaching the decision makers in all these countries through Universities or local communities.

In UK, we are going with the help of Minni Jain, director of the Flow Partnership, and in India we are working through Jal Biradari.

We have picked up California as the first place to voice our agenda on 'equal right to water' as this State is leading by example.

With regards to Slovakia, there are friends like Michael, who are doing a wonderful job in understanding about climate change and its role on water.

We feel climate change can be tackled somewhat by efforts to create moisture in the soil. By doing this, there will be greenery there, and this greenery can help in secretion of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. We can make a healthy and sustainable and secure climate. We are spending a whole year on studying the impact of our actions. This would be followed by travelling & discussing the results of the study all over the world.

In 2017, we are all meeting in Geneva -- all the associates that we gather in the coming two years. We believe in VASUDEVA KUTUMBH JAI JAGAT, meaning, all are one & we would work together! So this is our real force. We would meet the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva to push for recognition of the right to river water and access to nature.

The main focus would be on the ideology that water is for everyone and everybody should have equal rights on it. Water gives life and everybody has a right to live. Forests, marine & aquatic life also have right over water. If we can ensure the right of water, then we can make a system in the light of this decision the community driven decentralisation of water management.

Now, you would ask what is the relation between the right of river to community driven decentralisation of water management? All traditional water bodies are recharging the underground water & creating the flow of river. The flow of river is thus to be maintained.

I am taking the project the other way, which is the language of the Constitution of the Nations participating in this. So, our objective is in JAI JAGAT, which means the 'Right to Live' which starts with 'Equal Right to Water'. This is then followed by security of the climate. But, we first need to address the equal right of water to all individuals.

I would like to debate the notion that water should not be contained to only human being, but be available to all life forms be it animals (land, water & air) or nature itself. Thus everybody needs to globally join this debate and take the issue seriously.

Before I got the SIWI water prize, I had an educational right to water. I have been working in this area for many years and have a right to educate people. With the SIWI award, now, there is a different angle altogether. Now, I feel there is a moral right to teach across the world about water.

So, for me this is the best time because after 35 years that I have given to my county, I am giving minimum five to the world along with my country.

If I am talking of One Nature, One Water, then it is not only restricted to India, it becomes a global issue. The foundation of how we act in the world is not only based on the moral or educational right, but also on an intellectual or academic recognition that this is the valid way of working with nature. The kind of necessary next steps have to be taken now at a global level.

The work done in Rajasthan and in other Indian states will be a template to work on projects globally.

And, why I say, we should be working with nature!

How did we create perception of God in India? The people in India took the five elements of nature air, water, fire, earth and space and made God out of it.

So, we worship all the five elements of nature and believe that God is present in all these things. In all these elements, the first one is fire, followed by water, which calmed the fire and converted ash into Earth.

Humans came out of these elements and we should not forget that we have evolved out of Nature. The culture & sense of water should be instilled deep in our behaviour and personality as humans.

For us to sustain our longevity, we need to preserve water and respect nature. Since I live a simple life, which has a strong desire to preserve water and make water available to all, I believe I might be able to inspire others with similar thoughts to start thinking and acting together on same lines.

I feel that this sense of a relation to water in nature is slowly degenerating in many countries, including India. This sense needs to be awakened. So people like me need to go out in the world, meet people and discuss this and act together -- thus the need for World Water Walk for Peace.

(The author is the winner of the Stockholm Water Prize, 2015)

(Disclaimer: India Water Review does not take any responsibility for the views expressed in the article. The article published also does not in anyway reflect the opinion of India Water Review.)

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