Lapodia, nestled in the arid landscape of Rajasthan, India, was once a poignant symbol of destitution. Its broken mud embankment mirrored the challenges faced by its inhabitants – poverty, malnutrition, and an unrelenting battle against nature. Basic necessities like soap, sugar, and milk were luxuries beyond reach, and hunger became a nightly companion. Diseases ran rampant, children remained illiterate, and social conflicts festered.
The crux of Lapodia's predicament was acute water scarcity. With farming as the primary occupation for its 200 families, drought, dilapidated infrastructure, and dry wells cast a shadow on agricultural viability. The youth, including Laxman Singh, sought employment in cities, leaving behind a village ensnared in a cycle of despair.
At the age of 18, Laxman Singh envisioned a transformative solution – repairing the broken bund along the dry pond. Though met with skepticism regarding feasibility and funding, Singh proposed a unique approach – voluntary community participation. Undeterred, he, along with a friend, took it upon themselves to repair the 1.5 km long and 15 feet high bund armed with spades.
By the seventh day, their determination had inspired 20 villagers to join the cause. Two months later, rainwater filled the pond for the first time in decades, catalyzing Lapodia's journey towards prosperity.
By 1984, Lapodia's transformed landscape was irrigating 1,800 acres of farmland. The average income of families soared from virtually nothing to Rs.14,000 per annum, providing a comfortable life. The once arid village had become a symbol of rural renewal, self-sufficiency, and agricultural abundance, with the pond aptly named "Anna Sagar," the sea of grain.
Laxman Singh's ingenuity extended beyond pond repair; he introduced the "Chauka" system, a water-harvesting method with channels and square pits facilitating rainwater collection and cattle grazing. This not only revitalized the village's common lands but also symbolized the harmonious relationship between nature, man, and animals.
Lapodia's success story inspired neighboring villages, with villagers organizing "Shram Dhan" to contribute labor to desilt tanks and ponds. Once impoverished and conflict-ridden, Lapodia transformed into an oasis of agricultural produce, peace, and harmony.
Despite facing initial resistance from village officials for rule-framing initiatives, such as tree-cutting penalties and fines for hunting, Singh persisted. Slowly, authorities recognized his pioneering work, rewarding him with prizes for rejuvenating Lapodia.
Laxman Singh's visionary approach extended beyond water conservation. He emphasized the importance of pasture, or "gochar," as sacred and crucial for healthy villages. Villagers, now custodians of their surroundings, decided on new programs for road construction, installing taps, and establishing health and education facilities through Panchayati Raj principles.
Lapodia's renewal fostered a vibrant community with an annual nature-worshipping ritual, reinforcing bonds with nature and each other. Once on the brink of collapse, the village became a testament to sustainable development, proving that self-help for self-sufficiency could break the cycle of poverty and despair.
Laxman singh have been awarded the Padma Shri for his significant contribution to the field of saving water and the environment for the last 40 years. Laxman Singh changed the picture of more than 50 villages with the technique of saving water and the campaign launched for it.
Laxman Singh's legacy goes beyond the awards he received; it's reflected in Lapodia's thriving ecosystem. Recent afforestation efforts have attracted various bird species, turning the once arid village into a haven for birdsong. Lapodia, once synonymous with hardship, is now a living example of how individual initiative, community involvement, and a harmonious relationship with nature can transform the destiny of a village and its people.
In a commendable effort to further environmental sustainability, CarDekho, in collaboration with Grow Billion Trees, recently organized a tree plantation event in Bhairana Village, Jaipur. This initiative not only contributes to environmental conservation but also empowers farmers by diversifying their income sources.
The tree plantation event witnessed active participation from Cardekho, Grow Billion Trees, and Think Good Foundation. The collaboration reflects a shared commitment to environmental responsibility and community development.
The guest of honor at the event was Padma Shri awardee Shree Laxman Singh, whose innovative rainwater harvesting techniques have made Laporia, a nearby village, drought-proof and poverty-free. Laxman Singh's success story serves as an inspiration for sustainable living and community development.