Report of the Mahila Pratinidhi Sammelan

Jaipur, October 17, 2002

Women participants, involving women members of the Panchayat Raaj Institutions, activists, NGO representatives, etc.
A one-day seminar titled ‘Mahilla Pratinidhi Sammelan’ (Women’s Representative Seminar) was organised on the occasion of Rural Women’s Day.

The theme of the event was `Role of Women in Ensuring Adequate Safe Drinking Water in the Rural Area’. The event was structured to have a plenary, followed by case study presentation on `Initiatives taken by women, especially Members of Panchayati Raj Institutions on providing safe drinking water in their respective areas’.

The plenary session had Dr. C. P. Joshi, Minister For Public Health Engineering and Policy Making, Government of Rajasthan and Shri. Nathu Singh Gurjar, former Minister, Rural Development, Government of Rajasthan to provide an insight on the all crucial issue of Drinking Water Supply and government’s initiatives in this regard.

The case study presentation had a number of interesting cases being presented: two such cases are reproduced below:

  • Smt. Kamla Bai, Ward Panch, Chittorgarh Panchayat Samiti, Araniya Gram Panchayat and CUTS’ prerak (motivator), played a major role in motivating the community of the village consisting primarily of women to lobby and fight for grants under the Panghat Scheme, which is for providing drinking water. The provisions of the scheme state that the community needs to invest 10 percent of the total money involved in getting a drinking water supply infrastructure to be constructed in the village. Through this motivation campaign, Kamala Bai was able to generate financial resources to the tune of Rs. 20,000 to meet the 10 percent requirement and also lobbied effectively with the district administration in getting the remaining 90 percent financial resources allocated and the structure was put in place in record time.
  • A similar case, but interesting and commendable due to the fact that certain problematic forces had to be encountered is the case of how Smt. Suvidha Yadav, Sarpanch, Nimrana Panchayat Samiti, Gram Panchayat Akimpur of Alwar District, solved the problem of drinking water in her village. She was responsible for motivating the villagers to contribute a sum of Rs. 10,000/- for the construction of a tube well in the village. She had to face a lot of problems from certain quarters in her village who were opposed to this move, primarily because of the fact that they wanted the well in a different location, which would not have been convenient to all the residents of the village. She event went up to the Women’s Commission and the Secretary, Rural Development, Rajasthan and the Central Government, brought pressure on the Pradhaan of the village to co-operate and succeeded in getting the well dug at the desired location.

Shri C.P. Joshi, Minister for Policy Planning Shri R. K. Sharma of CUTS at the panel.
Shri. M. L. Mehta, Former Chief Secretary, Government of Rajasthan who chaired the session was very impressed with some of these cases and felt that such efforts needs to be multiplied. He felt that one odd her and one odd there would not really help to solve the problem of such huge magnitude. He also opined that a holistic approach needs to be followed in order to improve this situation. In his views, the root cause of problem is the increase in the rate of water usage in proportion to the rise in population. Hence, water should be used wisely minimizing the wastage. Hence, he felt that mere projects for drinking water alone will not help, but simultaneously, programmes aimed at minimising water usage should be implemented. These programmes could be focused for various target groups such as domestic, agriculture etc. Programmes aimed at minimising water usage in the agriculture sector should also focus on issues such as cropping patterns etc.

The final session, `The Way Forward’ came up with a set of recommendations to be made to the government. Some of the recommendations made are:

  • Programmes for recharging ground water resources,
  • Ensure proper implementation of government schemes for drinking water, etc.
  • Mismanagement of available water resources has led to the prevailing crisis of drinking water supply. Hence, there is an urgent need to form policy that will facilitate judicious use of water.
  • There is need of form a policy tailor made according to variations in geographic and demographic conditions, that influences the pattern of water consumption and conservation.
  • Groundwater resource is depleting at a faster rate and limited steps are being taken to recharge the same.