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Natural Resource Management

Revival of Rural Economy Through Sustainability

Social responsibility and commitment to sustainable development solutions have been the core ideology and mission of Bajaj Foundation. The following intervention describes an instance of rural reconstruction and revival of the rural economy, which Gandhiji had pronounced as a weapon to fight against imperialism.

As the Foundation started its intervention in 2009-10, it realised that river systems, which had long been the lifeline of agrarian society, were no longer so. These river systems had for long helped the farming community to irrigate crops apart from playing a larger role in recharging the shallow groundwater aquifers. Before the advent of pumping devices, these river systems had provided much-needed resources for many household chores as well. The river systems also served as a drinking water source for not only humans but also domesticated animals.

However, years of neglect and apathy along with large-scale deforestation — much of it being the consequence of economic development – removed the natural vegetation cover from the hills. This deforestation has also resulted in rapid runoffs and weathering of the topsoil. These runoffs carry with them soil that gets deposited on river beds, thus reducing the water carrying capacity of rivers. Hence, it has become common today to see rivers in spate soon after a sudden shower. Murky water following a heavy shower has also become a common sight. All these features have been accompanied by large scale destruction of crops and habitation by the banks of the rivers.

Bajaj Foundation realised it had a role to play in reviving these dilapidated river systems. It realised that such a revival would help rejuvenate the rural economy and that too on a sustainable basis. The effort of the Foundation, with the support of the farming community, has led to the revival of many of the river systems in the villages. Steps such as these for water resource management and water conservation not only helps tackle water scarcity but also ensures water security, which is a growing global problem.