Sri Sri Ravi Shankar-founded The Art of Living has been included in the Limca Book of Records 2019-India for the ‘Most extensive river rejuvenation by an NGO’ for the organization’s effort to resolve the country’s severe water problem by reviving 40 rivers and its tributaries in four Indian states and making more water available by raising the water table especially in drought prone regions, benefiting 49.9 lakh people in over 5000 villages.
The Limca Book Of Records India stated, ‘In January 2013, Art of Living an NGO, launched a campaign in the river basin of four states (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Odisha) to revive 40 rivers and streams, and 26 lakes and ponds of nine river basins…The project will benefit 5,055 villages and impact 4,993,840 people.’
The environmental, social and economic impact of The Art of Living’s river rejuvenation project has been far reaching and sustainable, bringing communities together in the common goal of mitigating the crucial water crisis.
Shweta Singhal, District Collector of Satara has shared, “Wherever The Art of Living has worked, conflicts have stopped, people have come together and worked for the project. There is a lot of work done in watershed by The Art of Living in Satara where villages dependent on tankers are now tanker free.”
Results of third party impact assessment indicated that the ground water levels in areas with Art of Living interventions are 20% higher than those without. Ground water recharge mechanisms have been reinstated leading to availability of water even in peak summers.
“For the last 8 years there was no water,” says Dayanand, a farmer from Kalaspur village, “Farming was dependent only on rains, hence had only 1 crop a year. Now water is available throughout the year and I grow 3 crops a year. Earlier my income was Rs. 30,000 to 40,000. Now it is over Rs. 3 lakh. My family and me are very happy.”
The project works on the philosophical principle that individual transformation alone can bring social transformation. As a nodal agency, The Art of Living collaborates with local communities, corporations and government to get the massive task of river rejuvenation underway. First, geological scientists and environmental experts carry out extensive scientific assessment of the area using geohydrological surveys and remote sensing technologies. Then, with the help of community participation programs, contribution of Art of Living volunteers and over 5000 locals, ground water recharge structures are constructed and desilting of pollutants carried out. For the long term, steps have been taken to encourage afforestation and shifting to cropping patterns for climate resilient farming practices.