This year on the 1st of May – Maharashtra Day – there is a unique opportunity for city folk to come out in large numbers and work shoulder-to-shoulder with villagers for a few hours. Speaking at a college event in Pune, Founder of Paani Foundation, Shri Aamir Khan appealed to students and all urban citizens to become ‘Jalmitras’ and join this effort against drought. By signing up on the link jalmitra.paanifoundation.in, people from cities can register to work in villages with villagers on 1st May which is Maharashtra Day. The last date for registration for 1st May Mahashramdaan is midnight on 25th April.
Around 1 lakh people have already signed up to be Jalmitras in the past three weeks.
If you do not have to time to travel to a village on 1st May you could also contribute by donating money towards machine work for creating watershed management structures, and by volunteering to help the villagers with certain tasks. Just visit www.paanifoundation.in and all your questions will be answered.
In 2016 Paani Foundation, a non profit company started by Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao, organised the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup which is a competition held each year between villages to see which village does the best work in watershed management. This is a people’s movement for a water-abundant, prosperous Maharashtra. Paani Foundation trains people in the science of watershed management, and villagers then plan and execute various watershed management works in their village with help from the government and NGOs.
In the first two years, around 1,500 villages participated in the Water Cup creating potential storage capacity of nearly 10,000 crore litres of water. In this, the third year of the competition, over 4,000 villages in 75 talukas and 24 districts of Maharashtra are participating. The top three prizes at the state level given to competing villages are Rs. 75 lakhs, Rs. 50 lakhs and Rs. 40 lakhs respectively. The top village in each taluka gets a prize of Rs. 10 lakhs. The competition runs from 8th April to 22nd May 2018.
The movement has steadily grown, and over the past two years, thousands of people in cities expressed the desire to contribute to this effort. To make it possible to volunteer and participate in different ways, Paani Foundation created the ‘Jalmitra’ – or ‘Friend of Water’ initiative, which it launched on World Water Day – 22nd March 2018. Anyone, anywhere in the world can be a Jalmitra by signing up on the link jalmitra.paanifoundation.in.
On the 1st of May, there will be a ‘Mahashramdaan’ across Maharashtra in all 75 talukas of the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup, where tens of thousands of citizens, both urban and rural will meet and work together for water abundance. Aamir Khan said he believes that this partnership between rural and urban will not only help the villagers but the city folk as well, to come closer to understanding our farmer friends, and knowing where our food, water and labour comes from. It will help to bridge the chasm between cities and villages, and go a long way towards creating a more equitable and humane relationship between the two. He urged the students to join the fight against water scarcity, and help work towards a prosperous and happy Maharashtra.