Fifty-five-year-old Jagdish Chandra Kudiyal, a farmer and grocery shop owner from Kumaon’s Bageshwar district, revived a spring in his locality which had been lying dead for decades. Inspired by the Chipko movement, he started planting saplings around the spring, which slowly recharged the ground water table. After 20 years, the spring finally came to life and now helps locals irrigate their fields.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded his efforts in ‘Mann ki Baat’.
Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat took to Twitter to praise him too. “When stubbornness turns into passion, there are definitely meaningful results. Shri Jagdish Kudiyal Ji, resident of Bageshwar district of Uttarakhand, has recharged the dry local water springs many years ago with his efforts to overcome not only the drinking water crisis, but also the irrigation problems in villages,” the CM wrote.
Recalling how it started, Kudiyal, who lives in Sirkot village of Bageshwar district’s Gardud block said that the idea first came to his mind when the village faced acute water crisis and all he could see was dried up springs.
“At that moment, I remembered the Chipko movement in which people started saving trees as they were sources of water recharge, among other things. I went to the ‘gadera’ [water spring] – the only source of water for the nearby villages. You couldn’t see a drop of water in it. It was all dry, filled with leaves, stones,” Kudiyal said.
He then started plantation around the ‘gadera’. Initially around 100 trees were planted, but like every success story starts with a failure, locals didn’t show any support.
“Villagers used to send their animals to graze on small plants. They sometimes used to destroy them for fun. But, I had already decided that I was there to bring life to it,” Kudiyal added. He then started tea farming in his field which was also located near the spring.
“I hired labourers to work in my tea fields and this is how I also got people to guard my saplings. And we managed to turn them into trees. We then dug deep pits after every two to three metres that used to get filled up with rain water. Finally, the hard work and patience of 20 years paid off when the spring came to life.”
Kudiyal said villagers later joined the “movement” when they saw his determination and results. His one son is a manager in an Indian overseas bank while the other is an Army officer, but he never left his village to lead a city life.
The water spring is now not only providing drinking water to 400 homes in villages, but is also being used for irrigation. Bageshwar’s chief development officer DD Pant said the water conservation campaign from the plantation in Sirkot village is truly commendable.