FREE INDIA of Water Crisis
Sadhguru: We are moving towards India’s 73rd Independence Day. A time has come to free India of water crisis; this is the independence movement we need now. Today we have only twenty-one percent of the water per capita that we had in 1947. And it is expected that twenty-five percent of India’s land will be uncultivable in five years’ time. That means we will lose the ability to grow food. Though we have a free land, if we cannot grow our food and do not have water to drink, what are we going to do with our freedom?
Right now the water situation is much more dire than people understand. If we do not take care of these things, you will see dead bodies in thousands. I am not saying this as an alarmist. Let any scientific studies be done and tell me, if in the next two or three years monsoons fail, how many people will die? What kind of civil distress will we create in the country? Can you manage that kind of situation? This is the time for us to act because we have already reached a threshold. If we do not act now, there are going to be really serious issues.
Without addressing the soil and water condition of this land, we cannot take this nation ahead. We have many great achievements in terms of business, science and technology, but we must understand the health of the soil and the water that is available for the population will determine the nature of the nation and how far this nation can go. How far can you walk or run on the street without drinking water? – that is how far a nation can go.
This crisis has been slowly evolving. Though rural populations have been suffering this all the time, now that the crisis has hit urban populations, there is a different level of awareness about it. When the focus was on the villages, nobody thought it is their problem. Now media is reporting everything that is happening because cities are coming under stress. So now people have become more conscious. This is a right time to work for the solution.
There is this attitude in the country where people expect they can sit back and let the government act. Well, we are only a 73-year old nation, and the government does not have the resources to fix every problem in the country. We can only go on highlighting problems endlessly and abuse and blame each other for these problems. But if we want a solution, we have to get the participation of the people, so that the government and all the resources that we have go in that direction.
So as a part of this, we launched the movement of Cauvery Calling.
Cauvery Is Calling
In Cauvery basin we have removed 87% of the green cover in the last 50 years, and the river has receded by over 40%. Particularly in the southern part of India, river depletion will happen much faster because of the nature of Deccan Plateau. It is not like a river is a separate thing, a lake is separate and a well is separate. In a tropical climate, these are all one water system.
The science of hydrology is such that if you do not hold the water in the soil, then it will flow off. Today we see when in one place there is drought, in another place there are floods. This is simply because water has to fall where there is vegetation so that it can percolate into the land and not run away.
In our nation on an average rainfall happens approximately 60 days in a year. What comes down in these 60 days’ time has to be stored in the land for 365 days. The water should slowly go through its own process and slowly flow into rivers, tanks, wells and lakes. But we have removed the vegetation in a major way. Right now, we are not even holding 20% of the rain that comes down in the land.
The only way is to increase green cover. There is no question of increasing forests because our population pressure is so huge. The only way we can go ahead is through agroforestry and horticulture – essentially tree-based agriculture.
Cauvery river now has about 21.2 trillion liters of water flowing every year. If we plant 242 crores in one third of the Cauvery river basin, in the form of agroforestry, then the amount of additional water retained in the Cauvery basin will be around 9 trillion liters. This is more than 40% of the water that is actually running in the river right now. But all of it will not go into the river alone; most importantly the groundwater tables will come up.
So we are running the Cauvery Calling campaign asking people to support to plant trees. 242 crores trees is not a small number. That is why we are raising large-scale nurseries and teaching farmers how to become entrepreneurs in agroforestry. The most important thing is a farmer needs to be incentivized to move from regular agriculture to agroforestry for the first four years only. After that, he will not need a bank loan, a subsidy or anybody’s help. He will be completely on his own. He will be a rich person and farming will become lucrative. We have already converted 69,760 farmers into agroforestry and within five to seven years, their income has gone up 5-8 times. I have seen wherever agroforestry is happening, the way the wells have filled up in that region is just a joy to watch. This is something we would like to see across Cauvery basin.
We need to FREE INDIA of water crisis. Cauvery is only the first step. If we successfully pull this off in twelve years’ time in the Cauvery basin, this will be a game-changer for the nation and for the tropical world.
This is not my work or the work of a particular organization. This is a generational work. As a generation of people, will we do what we are supposed to do? Our seven decades of political freedom will go in vain if we don’t leave abundant water and a rich soil for future generations. The way this land was given to us, at least to that level, we must revive it and hand it over to next generation. This is a responsibility that I don’t want to fail in, nor do I want you to fail. Let’s make this happen.