Rajendra Singh, also known as the "Waterman of India," is a renowned environmentalist and water conservationist who has dedicated his life to the restoration of water resources in rural Rajasthan, India.
Born in a small village in Rajasthan, Singh grew up observing the harsh effects of drought and water scarcity on his community. These experiences instilled in him a deep concern for the environment and a passion to find solutions to the water crisis. After completing his education, he began working with local NGOs and grassroots organizations to implement sustainable water management techniques in his home state.
One of Singh's most notable achievements is the successful revival of the river Ruparel in Rajasthan. The Ruparel was once a major source of water for the area but had become severely depleted due to years of over-extraction and lack of proper management. Singh and his team worked tirelessly to revive the river by rejuvenating traditional water harvesting systems, such as "johads" (traditional earthen dams) and "kunds" (water tanks) in the catchment area. Through these efforts, they were able to increase the water table and revive the river, bringing new life to the surrounding communities.
Rajendra Singh has been known to advocate for using traditional and indigenous knowledge systems for water management, and one way he has been doing that was through tree plantation.
He and his team realized that, the overuse of natural resources and deforestation had led to the depletion of water resources in the region. So, they began planting trees in the catchment areas of water sources, such as rivers and ponds, to increase the water-holding capacity of the soil.
This method is known as "afforestation," which involves planting trees in an area where there was previously no forest. Singh's team mainly focused on planting native and drought-resistant tree species, such as the neem, ber, and khejri, which have deep roots that help to recharge the groundwater.
The plantation of trees not only helped to revive the river Ruparel, but also helped to improve the local ecosystem, increase biodiversity, and improve agricultural productivity. The shade provided by the trees helped to reduce evaporation, which increased the water level in the nearby ponds and wells.
The tree plantation also had a positive impact on the livelihoods of local communities. The trees provided not only fuel and food but also medicinal and commercial values to the communities. This helped to reduce poverty and improve their standard of living.
The impact of tree plantation on water resources is a clear example of how interconnected environmental issues are. The planting of trees not only helped to conserve water, but also helped to improve the overall health and productivity of the ecosystem. The work of Rajendra Singh and his team in the area of tree plantation is an excellent example of how traditional and sustainable methods can be used to address the pressing issues of our planet.
Singh's work has been recognized at the national and international level. In 2015, he was awarded the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize, commonly known as the "Water Nobel" Prize, for his outstanding and innovative water conservation efforts. He was also named as one of the "100 most influential people" by Time magazine in the same year.
Rajendra Singh's legacy is one of dedication and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. His tireless efforts to improve the lives of people living in the arid regions of India, through sustainable water management, have not only helped to ease the water scarcity in those areas but also serve as a model for water conservation efforts around the world.