RASHTRIYA JAL BIRADARI (RJB)

Taking-Oath-to-Save-River-Shiv-GangaTarun Bharat Sangh’s efforts of organizing the villages and local communities across the country have resulted in the formulation of the Rashtriya Jal Biradari (National Water Community).

Rashtriya Jal Biradari (RJB) is a network of various like-minded individuals, farmers groups, social groups, VO’s, NGO’s, CBO’s, Research Institutions, social scientist, water experts basically all those who are concerned and have deep interest in the issue related to water.

RJB was formally incepted in the National Water Convention held in April 2001 in Tarun Bharat Sangh at Nimi village (near Jaipur). More than 7,000 water warriors from all over the country participated in the convention. Then started the water movement regarding water rights and to establish communities right over water. The responsibility of leading the movement was given to Rajendra Singh (chairman RJB).

RJB has its units in each state of the country. It is working on national level issues like influencing Central & State governments for making pro-people water policies, decentralized community driven water management, advocacy against privatization of natural resources, creating awareness among general mass for water conservation.

RJB feels that the above issues must be seen in the following perspective:

  • Water is a basic human right and is the very basis of human existence. It is not a property of the State or any individual. Water is an endowment of nature to mankind and human society can manage water for both human and environmental benefit.
  • Water is never a private asset and ever a universal resource. The state is the trustee (not an Owner) of all natural resources, which are by nature meant for public use and enjoyment. The state is thus under a legal duty to protect the natural resources. These resources meant for public use cannot be converted into private ownership. Privatisation of water resources is thus a crime against mankind and should not be encouraged.
  • The current crisis of water is one of management and not that of supply. The solution is to regenerate water resources to such an extent that supply far exceeds demand. This is the only long-term way of fighting current privatisation of water. If Gandhi were alive, he would have launched a massive campaign against privatization. He would fight for right for conservation of water resources as a fundamental non- tradable right.
  • Rather than linking rivers, it is more important to link people with rivers today. For this, communities should have the right to plan, conserve, manage and control their water resources at local, river basin, state levels.
  • Traditional values of reverence and prudence in use of water need to be revived on an urgent basis. Our national water policy must be based on the philosophical and cultural values of Indian society.
  • In urban areas, there is a strong need for a differential water pricing to ensure that five-star hotels, industries, affluent colonies are not subsidised and that poorer sections and people living in slums pay according to their capacity.

RJB have ensured positive impact to create a nationwide awareness on issues related to management and conservation of water resources for well-being of the society. The details of some of them are as follows:

  • RJB has provided an indisputable and prestigious platform to all stakeholders to join hand at various levels to exchange experiences, ideas, learn and take appropriate measures to address issues related to water. This is perhaps the first and foremost conglomeration of cross-section of society fighting for common cause in the country.
  • Judiciary has become more environment especially river-sensitive, as evident in verdict of rejuvenation of Mithi river in Mumbai, forcing U.P. government to obtain environment clearance for highly controversial Ganga expressway project, pollution of Ganga-Yamuna basin.
  • Rainwater harvesting has now become a crucial obsession and buzzword in societal discussion at all level. Many of the large number of visitors from other states have been inspired by RJB’ work to take up such works in their areas.
  • RJB has influenced state drought relief works to ensure that more part of the budget is spent on water harvesting structures rather than works not directly relevant to drought proofing.
  • Perception of National and State Governments towards protected areas has significantly changed after the formation of “People’s Sanctuaries” in villages in RJB’ project area.
  • In Sariska National Park, RJB has moved from a position of conflict with the state to one of collaboration. Due to RJB’ work, water-harvesting structures are now part of the Park’s program.

At present RJB focusing on “Save the Rivers Mission”. Recently, due to persistent efforts of RJB, River Ganga has been recognized as “National River” by Government of India. Moving ahead, RJB is trying to bring stakeholder of polity & community on common platform for dialogue to save Rivers from pollution, excess exploitation and encroachment.

 

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