Be self-sufficient to be drought-free: Water Man of India

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CHENNAI: “Tamil Nadu’s farmers have displayed commendable strength and courage by going to Delhi and protesting. Had they not done so, we wouldn’t have realised the severity of the situation,” said Rajendra Kumar, at a presentation on ‘Making Tamil Nadu drought-free’. “But protests alone are not the answer. The farmers must now take it upon themselves to create community-driven, decentralised water management options, which many others like them in the state can also follow,” he added.

At an event organised by Goethe Institut as an extension of its ‘Chennai Water Forum’ initiative, Kumar, also known as the ‘Water Man of India’, proposed changing crop patterns according to an area’s water availability. “At Rajasthan’s villages, we shifted to growing coriander a crop that uses less water, harvests in 40 days, sells for 40 a kilo, and is so fragrant, our animals never came close to it,” he said.

Talking about the drought-hit delta regions, Kumar pointed out that a mechanism to “increase recharge” of groundwater and “disciplining discharge”, was the solution.”The next time you get rain, make a river parliament and ensure you do not grow water-intensive crops such as paddy and sugarcane. This is the way to control your discharge, and sustain groundwater,” he said.
At the event that also saw prominent environmentalists, researchers and activists participate, he dismissed political promises of interlinking of rivers as being mere political answers to a problem that needed sustainable solutions.
“Stop rainwater and build your own reserve bank of water with it. If Tamil Nadu has to become a water surplus state, it must stop looking at other states for water and instead look within itself,” he said.
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