Meet 26-year-old Ramveer Tanwar, an engineer from Dadha village in Greater Noida.
This inspirational young man is on a mission to change the world and help solve India’s severe water crisis.
India is faced with one of the worst water emergencies in history. Experts predict that 21 cities will run out of groundwater as soon as next year, 2020.
The Nitit Aayog reported that approximately 163 million Indians do not have access to clean water. To make matters worse, around 200,000 Indians die each year because they lack access to clean water.
Ramveer watched first-hand as lakes dried up and disappeared around his hometown. He knew water was largely disappearing due to pollution. He noted that no one – not the government nor the citizens – had taken action to address the root problem.
As an engineering student, Ramveer wanted to tackle the issue head on.
This is a before and after picture of one of the ponds Ramveer helped bring back to life:
Another before and after:
Ramveer began his campaign by educating villagers about the importance of conserving water. He understood that they simply didn’t realize they could improve their situation by making a few changes.
“Due to lack of awareness, people in the village would waste water incessantly. They are doing this out of ignorance. Fining them for this is not a solution,” he told The logical Indian.
Talk only goes so far. To make real change, Ramveer decided to take action.
He began working with locals to revive dead waterbeds throughout the district. Since 2014, Ramveer has cleaned up 12 pounds and lakes, restoring water supply to many villagers.
Many are now singing praise for Ramveer and his actions.
If you want to know how to kill a river, look no farther than India. A lack of education on the matter has led to the pollution of many bodies of water.
Car parts, brick, metal scraps, plastics – you name it and it can be found floating in the waters of India, bleeding paint, oil and metals into the water.
Illegal construction and the development of flood walls only contribute to the problem.
Environmentalists and activists have been battling it out for years in hopes of addressing the issue and saving what little water is still salvageable.
In New Delhi, activists have been busy fighting consecutive legal battles to prevent the floodplain and river bed of the Yumana from being turned into a subway depot and road, along with other development projects.
People bathing in Ganges river, Pixabay
Then there’s the sacred Ganges, which flows through five Indian states. This body of water is in the midst of a legal battle. Both environmentalists and citizens are beyond frustrated over the government’s lack of an actionable plan to clean the badly polluted river.
Much of the problem comes from the fact that urban expansion is through the roof in India. India’s population has nearly doubled over the last forty years.
Unfortunately, the rivers and streams are taking on the brunt of the consequences. Much of this growth is unplanned for, leading people to dump sewage and industrial effluent directly in open bodies of water.
India’s Central Pollution Control Board reports that around 63% of the urban sewage flowing into rivers is untreated.
Beautiful riverbanks, floodplains, and wetlands have been overrun by slums, office buildings, housing developments, and other infrastructure. This narrows natural river channels and distorts the natural flow of water.
As a result, this reduces the natural ability of the river to buffer flooding and has greatly impacted biodiversity.
A study reported by livemint.com connected rising rates of typhoid, diarrhea, and hepatitis in New Delhi to severe pollution found in the Yamuna River, a river responsible for producing a great deal of the city’s drinking water.
Huge portions of the Yamuna are now considered dead zones, with oxygen levels so low they can no longer support fish life. Other rivers are faced with the same problem including Chennai’s Cooum, Ulhas and Mumbai’s Mithi.
The blame largely falls on failed clean-up efforts, contractor-driven boondoggles, industries protected by political clout, and lack of enforcement by pollution-control agencies.
The Sabarmati River in Gujarat is often referenced as a key example of what urban river restoration can offer. The Sabarmati was a dirty and seasonally dry river for many years.
Architects reinvented the Sabarmati by clearing away the surrounding slums to create a channel of clear water with a long concrete border.
Many argue this simply pushed pollution downstream and unfairly targeted people living in slums, when everyone is part of the problem.
That’s why Ramveer’s approach is so appealing. It doesn’t point fingers or kick people out of their homes, nor does it build large walls that decimate natural floodplains.
Instead, his approach is all about educating local people on the small changes they can make to create a difference and protect the water they depend on.