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Meet Ayyappa Masagi, the mechanical engineer turned water warrior

For anyone who is worried about India’s water crisis, Ayyappa Masagi’s solution is simple – conserve. This man – popularly referred to as Water Magician, Water Gandhi, and Water Doctor – firmly believes that by the year 2020 India can manage its water resources well and be a water-efficient country. And if Ayyappa has his way, the country may just end up achieving this goal. He has also recharged more borewells and constructed more lakes than probably anyone else in the country. But he hasn’t always been actively involved in conserving water. In fact, for many years, Ayyappa was an engineer for Larsen and Toubro (L&T), before he started working in this field. Ayyappa was born into a family of poor farmers in Gadag district in Karnataka. And it is his experiences with agriculture that made him study water in his later years. Ayyappa went through many struggles before he could get an education and get employed. His mother sold her gold so he could complete his diploma in mechanical engineering. He worked at BEML, Bengaluru, before joining L&T, where he worked for 23 years. During his years in L&T, Ayyappa found it hard to resist the call of the earth.

This is how Ayyappa started researching how water, which is abundant at least once a year, can be conserved for the dry season. In his quest for answers, he met with experts like Anna Hazare and Rajendra Singh of Rajasthan.After a long study, Ayyappa realized that recharging borewell and practicing non-irrigational agriculture methods were the answers to the water problems farmers faced.“I decided to use my farm as my own R&D lab. I implemented these techniques and reaped a good harvest in the two subsequent years, in the face of flood and famine. I was encouraged by the success and started spreading the message about borewell recharging and non-irrigational agricultural techniques. I tested these methods on the farms in my neighborhood and found they worked there as well. This is what prompted me to reach out to more people,” he says. Gradually, he quit his job at L&T and decided to work towards making India a water-efficient nation.“We always blame nature. But that is unfair. It is we who have encouraged uncontrollable development and encroached upon the land. Then how can we complain when a place like Chennai receives the rain meant for a year in three days?” asks Ayyappa.

A year later, he established the Water Literacy Foundation, in a bid to reach out to more people and spread the message of conservation. In 2008, Ashoka approached Ayyappa to start a for-profit wing of the Water Literacy Foundation. This is how Rain Water Concepts was launched. Today, he finds solutions to water problems based on the size of the farm, the availability of resources, and the person’s budget. Ayyappa has orchestrated thousands of conservation projects across 11 states. He has also created over 600 lakes in the country, for which he found mention in the Limca Book of Records. Ayyappa’s ideas are simple. He considers the earth to be the biggest filter. He captures the water, filters it and then stores it underground. His pit-based rainwater harvesting system is a structure made of boulders, gravel, sand, and mud. When it rains, water trickles through the gravel and sand. It slowly charges the subsoil. This process continues and ensures the soil is always charged with water. This method also prevents water from evaporating.“Do you know how much water every person wastes while having a bath? This water is not bad water. It can actually be reused,” he says. Ayyappa not only provides services to individuals but to corporates and other educational institutions as well. He has also managed to create a community of ‘water warriors’ who practice his methods and educate others about them.

(Text Source: The Better India)

Tags: Ayyappa Masagi |  Water Warrior |  Water Conservation Projects |  Founder of Water Literacy Foundation | Water Literacy Information |  Rainwater Harvesting