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Only a few of Bikaner's over 100 ponds are well-maintained today, some thanks to the efforts of citizens, and another due to rooftop rainwater being channeled. Could the remaining get as lucky?

Water connects food and religion. Religious ceremonies often involve taking a dip in a water body, and any food or meal is incomplete without water. The same two things - food and religion - stand out in Bikaner. While hot kachoris and samosas line street stalls, Mata Karni Devi and Baba Ramdev (not the yoga guru) shower their blessings from billboards and wall paintings. Ironically though, Bikaner is not rich in water since it is on the western side of Rajasthan. As unlikely a candidate as it is to be a religious and food hub, it only became so because of its ponds.

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After 30 days of digging and removing 6000 tractor loads of sand, the evasive Dharmar Theertham was found intact with fresh water being replenished in a pit in the middle of the structure.

The word 'Theertham' literally means ‘water’ but in Hindu mythology, it is usually the physical holy water body associated with a temple or deity. Rameshwaram has 64 such theerthams. 22 of these are believed to be sacred and are within the premises of the Sri Ramanathaswamy temple.

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Khonoma village, which fought the British four times, is today also known for how it protects its ecological heritage. Watch how its indigenous water management system works.

Khonoma village resisted British rule in the region from 1830s to 1880 and is therefore considered as the last bastion of Naga warriors against the British. But today, the village is also known for upholding its rich indigenous erudition.

In the last decade, the village has stood out for its environmentally conscious people and prominent efforts to maintain its green. As a result, not only does Khonoma conserve its forests, but it has also banned hunting, which is a way of life for the Nagas.

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The water in Jamwadi village, Yavatmal has been severely contaminated by the Raymond Company but quality tests only confirm this when the villagers changed the name of the village on the test sample.

A decade ago, Jamwadi village in Yavatmal, Maharashtra, was a famous tourist attraction due to its beautiful lake. Now, there is no lake to speak of thanks to the Raymond factory in Yavatmal. Wastewaster from the factory flows untreated into the lake, which is located 15 kms away. This has severely affected the environment, health and community life of not only Jamwadi village but also five others in the area namely Yechuri, Tiwsa, Bhoyar, Varaz and Chani.

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Locals who protect the migratory birds that come to Chilka lake in Odisha struggle to make a living as the lake has shrunk, thereby shrinking their revenues from fishing.

Nature and wildlife can be better conserved if local communities are duly educated and motivated. Nearly 70 km south of Bhubaneswar, the Mangalajodi village on the edge of Chilka lake, Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon, is a testimony to that argument.

About 25 villagers, many of whom were once-known bird poachers, have now become saviours of the avian winter guests coming in from different parts of the globe including the Siberian and Arabian countries. 

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Kaikondarahalli kere went from being a polluted, sewage-filled cess pool into a flourishing, clean lake home to birds, fish and the local community too!

Priya Ramasubban personifies the words ‘good things come in small packages’. This sprightly, self motivated enthusiast, saw a marshy, polluted cess pool, hemmed in by an open tract of land, where labourers and migrants daily dipped in for their morning ablutions. Talking to people around, she realised that this soggy piece of wetland was once a lake. Kaikondarahalli Lake was part of a manmade chain of lake systems, built hundreds of years ago.

What better way to see how to resolve this stinky situation than to put her foot right into this foul water!

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Agricultural lands of thousands of people have been destroyed in Odisha and the growing need for power is trumping over the environment. Better regulation can help but it needs to happen soon.

"The agricultural production in our region has deteriorated due to pollution. Haphazard mining has lead to serious drinking water problems in the area", says Indar Bilas Shah, a 56- year old resident of Obada village, Lakhanpur block in Jharsuguda, Odisha. He's not the only one. Thousands of villagers in Jharsuguda echo these sentiments. 

Who's to blame?

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Small hydel projects are often hailed as sustainable models of power production but they spark an equal number of contentious issues much like the bigger projects.

As Hari Singh led me towards his fields, I wondered if he was trying to play a joke on me. Large rocks were scattered in the area and there was no sight of any arable land, neither was there any clue of the irrigation channel which Singh claimed ran through his farm.

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ACWADAM has selected Randullabad village, located in the Koregaontaluka of Satara district of Maharashtra for implementing its Participatory Groundwater Management Programme (PGWM), which is based on eight simple principles. The PGWM programme includes three broad sets of activities; training, action research and advocacy. The report provides a detailed description of the process of PGWM and discusses certain critical findings and experiences of ACWADAM in Randullabad.

Muthalane village is typical tribal village of Western Maharashtra, with backward agricultural economy. It lacks awareness about water management and is backward in education and other socio-economic factors. Famers in the village practice rain-fed agriculture as they have limited water resources available.

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