70-Yr-Old Single-Handedly Brings Clean Water To 10,000+ People In Rajasthan

An old Indian saying goes, “Pyaase ko paani pilaana punya ka kaam hota hai” meaning offering water to a thirst is a good deed which will be rewarded. Acute shortage of water is a major worry for millions of fellow countrymen and snatches away much of their time, productivity and efficiency. Thankfully, we have people like Bhagwati Agrawal to restore relief and a new normalcy in their lives.

The Indian-American social entrepreneur has facilitated easier access to clean, drinking water to over 10,000 people who could not have imagined it without his support through harvesting the much-precious rainwater. His contribution has spread to six villages in India’s driest state of Rajasthan where people have to walk miles to collect water in pots crushing their heads. Agrawal’s system called ‘Aakash Ganga’ (River from the Sky) is a network of rooftops, gutters, pipes and underground reservoirs that collect and store the monsoon rains, which fall from July to September.

“The way I look at it, I’m 70-year-old. I only have maybe 10-15 years left of active life. But right now, I’m like Usain Bolt, the sprinter and I will run very fast to accomplish this mission,” Agrawal says.

The harvesting system frees adults to spend time doing more valuable activities. Not having to fetch water allows children, especially girls, to spend more time in school. People report fewer health problems and better hygiene. Dairy cows have become twice as productive. Agrawal’s nonprofit organisation, Sustainable Innovation, works in the fields of rainwater harvesting and low cost healthcare service.

Under his model, pipes are installed on the rooftops which collect rain water and fills large and small tanks. This water supports the household comfortably till the next monsoons. Earlier, women spent upto four hours daily in order to fetch water from far-away resources. Life was a constant struggle for water which should be a fundamental right of every human being.

Agrawal put together his business and tech-savy knowledge and resolved to make lives simpler for the villagers who were far from helping themselves. His efforts have been recognised by CNN and he is running for a handsome prize money and training which will widen his reach in Rajasthan.

Besides this, he is a frequent speaker on rapid commercialisation of technologies, Gandhian Approach to Sustainability, and People Culture and Innovations. Agrawal is the recipient of $100,000 Lemelson-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sustainability Award, Energy Globe World Award for social innovation and World Bank Development Marketplace awards (twice) for rainwater harvesting and for delivery of healthcare.


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