The ever-larger stretches of rivers in India are becoming so polluted that their water can be used for fewer and fewer uses and the quality of water in an increasing number of aquifers is being similarly degraded by human use and saline invasion. Making the scenario worst, problems of over-exploitation, encroachments on water resources (like rivers) are surfacing as big issues.
TBS’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. Currently more than 200 organizations and 10,000 individuals are member of Rashtriya Jal Biradari
In last 15 years, TBS has enhanced its capacity of advocacy at national level. In this period RJB has got many successes like; advocating for a pro-people water policy of state of Rajasthan, influencing the Government of India to designate River Ganga as “National River” of India. Based on TBS’ advice, government has made National Ganga River Basin Authority. TBS is a member of this authority chaired by the prime minister of India.
Now, TBS feels the need of erecting and strengthening the river basin institutes at state level. There is a need of adopting a different and more holistic approach taking the river and not the city as the unit of planning as have been done until now. The essence of this approach is not just to focus on river pollution but to aware all the stakeholders more comprehensively on catchment area treatment, protection of flood plains, ensuring ecological flows and restoration of the river ecosystem.
1. Formation of a special cadre of field activists for river restoration issues
River issues are broadly categorized into three parts; pollution, encroachment and over-exploitation. Each dimension has its own peculiarities to deal with.
- TBS selects Field activist from the various river basins of India through an appropriate screening process.
- TBS then undertakes necessary preparation in these various river basin for identifying specificities of these basins. TBS will train the selected field activists to enhance their capacities for working on the issues related to the respective river basins.
- These various experiences will help TBS in extraction of policy learning through state and national workshops and through proper documentation of work done.
2. Policy Advocacy for River restoration at state level
- Capacity building programs for stakeholders on river restoration such as village institutions, NGOs, GOs, Academicians, Scientists, bureaucrats etc
- Organizing state level workshops on vital issues related to water rights, river restoration, and for making and strengthening river basin institutions.
3. Policy Advocacy for River restoration at national level
- Organizing national level workshops on issues related to river based policies.
- Organizing regional and national level foot-marches for mobilizing public opinion of civil society about river restoration policies.