This is a true story. Villages around the famous tiger reserve of Sariska in Rajasthan, had always faced droughts and water shortages. So the villagers, along with an NGO, decided to build small check dams called johads to trap rainwater. The men and women of all the villages gave voluntary labour and even contributed their own money to build the johads. The water table slowly began to rise. Forests began growing again.
One day, after ten years of hard work, the efforts of the villagers was rewarded. Suddenly, after the monsoons, a river that was dry throughout the year started to flow. There was now enough water for people, animals and the fields, everyone was happy, until one day…
A fat man came from Jaipur, and showed the villagers a permit from the government babus, that allowed him to catch all the fish in the newborn river.
The villagers were very angry. How could they allow a stranger to come and benefit from all their hard work?
By law, all surface water (river, ponds, lakes etc.) belong to the government. The villagers think otherwise. The case still goes on.
[ Courtesy: Gobar Times, a children’s newspaper produced by the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment. It aims to create environmental awareness among children by dealing with issues in a language that is simple, quirky and fun, along with innovative visuals.]