The meaning of Sujalam Sufalam Malyaj Sheetlam is rightly portrayed by the people of Bhaonta-Kolyala village by saving the Arvari village, President K.R. Narayanan said while felicitating the village community with the Down To Earth-Joseph C. John Award
for an outstanding environmental community at Hamirpura. This is the first time that a village community has received an award for outstanding environmental work.
“While it is the responsibility of the government to create a situation where people can develop, it is up to the people themselves to work for the achievement of true Gram Samaj,” the President added.
The Centre for Science and Environment chose the Bhoanta-Kolyala village of Thanagazi Block of Alwar for the award from 149 entries for reviving the Arvari river. The award carries a citation and a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh. The award has been initiated by
Down to Earth, the environment magazine. It is funded by the family of environmentalist Joseph C. John, who is known for his work on the environment and for his contribution against the Silent Valley Hydroelectric project.
“Water is a basic need of life. It is realised by all that the non-availability of water is becoming a very grave problem. The Arvari, which flows through Gopalpura and Bhaonta-Kolyala regions, was absolutely dry. Lack of water had destroyed agriculture
and forced people to leave the village to earn their livelihood elsewhere.
In such a situation, Tarun Bharat Sangh and the villagers paved the way resourcefully. The villagers asked the Tarun Bharat Sangh to start building johads instead of talking about plans. The johads and the check-dams became a perennial source for the
villagers,” the President said.
The President added: “They have also introduced a democratic set up called Arvari River Parliament, which deals with problems regarding water management and invites ideas from the villagers. This has proved the concept of real Gram Samaj, which functions
on its own without the help of government.”
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot said the villages of his state have started understanding their problems. “The President’s visit will provide great encouragement to the environmentalists of the state,” he said.
Rajasthan governor Anshuman Singh, speaking at the function, lauded the efforts of the villagers and Tarun Bharat Sangh. The vote of thanks was proposed by the chairman of the Arvari project.