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  Volume 3 - Issue 12
DECEMBER 2005
 
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THE SRI SATHYA SAI GODAVARI DRINKING WATER PROJECT

Yet another saga of divine love to the distressed and isolated.....


 
 
 

Godavari is one of the great rivers of India, mentioned in the scriptures and considered sacred. Rising in the Satmala Hills in the Western Ghats close to the city of Nasik in the State of Maharashtra, the 1450km long Godavari, flows in a southeasterly direction, picking up many tributaries on the way. Entering Andhra Pradesh, it cuts right through two Districts, East Godavari and West Godavari, appropriately named, and then empties into the Bay of Bengal.

Being a sacred river there are shrines all along, starting with Panchavati near Nasik, where Lord Rama is supposed to have lived in exile for a while. Legend has it that it was here that Ravana abducted Mother Sita.

Unlike many other rivers in India, the water flowing in river Godavari has not been harnessed to the same extent, and Swami has often referred to the enormous amount of water flowing into the sea [the Bay of Bengal]. Some time after the massive Drinking Water Project for Chennai was completed Swami decided that something ought to be done for the poor people in the East and West Godavari Districts. (To read our cover story on Chennai water Project, go here).

Swami noted that though the Godavari River carried plenty of water, people living in these districts often faced drinking water problems.

 
 

Baba on the Godavari Project in Dec 2004

While speaking to the staff of the Super Specialty Hospital in Prashanthi Nilayam on Dec 26th, 2004, Swami said,

"Currently we are executing a water project for East and West Godavari Districts. It is possible to live without food but not without water. Water is highly essential. These people live by the side of Godavari but they have no potable water. Though water is available nearby, they are not in a position to have access. For everything, human effort is very essential. To attempt and act is human nature; success or failure is in God's control."

In the East Godavari District especially, which is full of forests and populated largely by tribals, people living just about ten or fifteen kilometres from the river faced an acute drinking water problem. They depended mostly on borewells, most of which are drying up due to excessive use of ground water. Moreover, in some pockets, the borewell water contains harmful chemicals. In some places in East Godavari District, the tribals used to draw water from nearby streams. However, the natural water from the streams is bacteriologically unsafe. In short, for a variety of reasons, the poor people in these districts were facing difficulties.

The Two Godavari Districts Blessed By SAI's Drinking Water Project

The two Godavari Districts are quite far from Puttaparthi and no one had come from there to pray explicitly to Bhagavan to help them with good drinking water. However, Swami came to their rescue even before they asked. That is God in human form.

Thus far, Swami has blessed through His many drinking water projects, the people of Anantapur District in Andhra Pradesh [where, by the way, Puttaparthi is located], then the people of Mahabubnagar and Medak Districts in north-western Andhra Pradesh, and after that the huge city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. It is now the turn of the two Godavari Districts in the east coast of Andhra Pradesh to receive the Divine Grace of safe drinking water.

 
The Earlier Drinking Water Projects: In Anantapur in 1996 (left) and then in Chennai, 2004 (right)
 

Every Sai drinking water project has its unique features. Of these, the Anantapur project, the first one to be executed, is by far the most complex. [Details of this may be found in the volume WATER: THE ELIXIR OF LIFE, which forms one of the five 80th Birthday souvenir set, blessed by Bhagavan at the time of Gurupoornima this year. You can also read our cover story on Anantapur project here]. The Chennai water project presented its own challenges and it belongs to an entirely different category. Larson and Toubro, a leading engineering construction company in India executed both the projects, and according to Mr. A. Ramakrishna, then L & T chief, the Anantapur project continues to remain the most complex water project they have executed thus far.

 
Snapshots of the Godavari River
 

 
The Scheme of the Godavari Drinking Water Project

The Godavari project follows the scheme adopted earlier in Mahabubnagar District, Andhra Pradesh.

In principle, the scheme is simple (as depicted in the graphic on the left) - one first constructs an intake well near the water source, in this case the Godavari river. Water is drawn from the source by pumps, and then sent to a reservoir. There it is treated and purified, after which the water, now fit to drink, is distributed through pipes to the designated villages.

In the villages, there are local storage tanks, from which water flows to cisterns, to which water taps are connected. That is the general idea.

Although this is no different from what was done earlier in Mahabubnagar, there are, as is to be expected, some unique challenges, especially in East Godavari . The most important of this is that the target villages are located in a forest region.

 
Snapshots of the Forest Region Through Which the Pipes Lines Will Travel
   

Before doing any project in this area, however beneficial, clearance must first be obtained from the agency charged with environmental protection. Further, while laying pipes, no trees must be cut. Interestingly, the tribals living in the region also demand this, which of course, is good news.

Swami Speaks about the Godavari Project During Guru Poornima 2005

Recently, in His Guru Poornima Discourse on 21st July 2005, Swami said,

"Recently, a strange incident took place. Subramaniam of Larsen & Toubro and Chief Engineer Kondal Rao had gone to East Godavari and West Godavari region in connection with the Water Supply Project works. As they were conducting a survey in a forest area, they were confronted by a group of naxalites (terrorists). The naxalites questioned them, "Who are you? Why have you come here? Who has sent you here? How dare you enter our area without our permission?"

They replied, "We have come here in your own interest. Because there is scarcity of water in this region, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has sent us to make arrangements for the drinking water supply." On hearing this, the naxalites were stupefied and overjoyed. They said, "We are living in the forests and hence are not aware of the magnificent service activities that Swami has undertaken."

They guided the engineers as to where to lay the pipes and fix the taps. They are all coming here for Swami's darshan. The Water Supply Project works in East and West Godavari districts will be completed soon...I am taking up these projects and completing them of My own accord, without anybody's asking. Water is very essential for the survival of everyone. It is the sustainer of life. What else can be of greater service than providing drinking water to the needy? It is the source and sustenance of life. I do not expect any rituals or worship from you. I am doing it out of My love for you.”

Yes, Swami’s love knows no barriers. He knows who needs what and provides like a loving mother. Before we proceed with the details of the project, just a word about the tribals of this region - the main beneficiaries of the East Godavari project.

The lives of the tribals in Interior East Godavari District are fully intertwined with forest and seasons. They live on forest produce. They cut the trees on the mountain slopes and cultivate pulses and some cereals which is generally called “Kondapudu Cultivation.” In the recent times, the Government has imposed certain restrictions on felling of tress and ordered that fruit yielding trees must be grown on the mountain areas cleared by tribals. They also make thin threads out of the trunk of a tree called “Thati Picchu”.

 
Snapshots of the Tribals Living in the Forests of the Godavari Districts - the Beneficiaries of the Water Project
   

These threads (you see the lady making the threads in the picture above) have many salient properties and are an export-oriented item used for making baskets and other handicrafts. As can be seen from the above images, their living conditions are still primitive.

Coming back to the project details, there are two intake wells in the East Godavari District while West Godavari has only one. The intake wells at Purushottapatnam and Pamaleru in the East Godavari District, together will cater to the drinking water needs of about 300 villages.

 
Snapshots of the Intake Wells on the Godavari River in Both the Districts of Godavari
(including the one on the stream in East Godavari)
   

While the Purushottapatnam Intake Well is located on the bank of the Godavari River, the intake well at Pamaleru actually collects water from a stream which later joins the Godavari River. The stream, in the rainy season, carries a lot of water. Even in the dry season, there is always a fair amount of subsoil water to meet the needs of many neighbouring villages.

In the West Godavari District the only intake well is at Polavaram. And near this intake well is the large Water Treatment Plant at Hukumpet.

 
Snapshots of the Tanks and Water Treatment Plants of the Godavari Project
   

Water is sent from the intake wells at the various collection stations to filtration plants where the water is filtered and purified. From there, the water is pumped out and sent through pipes to many storage tanks, from where the water is distributed to the villages.

 
Snapshots of the Pipelines Going to the Villages Through the Forests
   

Work started some months ago and is in full swing. It is expected to be completed by around March 2006. When completed, about five hundred villages in the two districts are expected to be benefited and about half a million people would receive Sai water to drink every single day!

By the way, if one counts all the people benefited by Sai Drinking Water Projects [including the seven million or so in Chennai], then in the last one decade, Swami has provided drinking water to about ten million people!

To give you an idea of what this means, please note that the population of New Zealand is about 3.8 million, the population of Belgium is about 10.3 million, the population of Hungary is about 9.8 million, and the population of Sweden is about 8.9 million.

Just think about it: Has any private charitable trust anywhere in the world done anything like this? And please note, EVERY SINGLE PROJECT DONE BY SWAMI IS GIVEN AWAY FREE TO THE STATE CONCERNED. The State may get it free but Swami’s Central Trust has spent hundreds of millions of dollars. Does He take one cent back as repayment? No, never! We all know mothers sacrifice for their children. How many know what this Universal Mother of us is doing for humanity? While we may describe this as sacrifice, Swami never uses that word. For Him, it is always an expression of His Boundless Love!

Very few people know about the Godavari Project, including people in the Ashram here in Prashanthi Nilayam. That is why Heart2Heart is making a special effort to tell you all about it so that you may speak about this great miracle of the Lord to everyone you know.

We have also covered many of the other Missions of Swami, and in case you want to know more about them, please go to our Previous Issues page.

 

Godavari Project Highlights

  • 500 Villages to be benefited.
  • Half a Million people to receive drinking water everyday.

10 Million people - Benefitted with Drinking Water till now through Baba's various Drinking Water Projects.


Good News!

Water from the intake well in East Godavari district is now flowing to the water filtration and purification plant. Safe drinking water is now being supplied on a trial basis to a few villages. This happened on the eve of Swami’s 80th Birthday.

Before we bring this feature to a close, there is one thing that we must draw attention to. From the late sixties, Swami has, step by step, been sending some important signals through His Missions in the area of education, health and now water.

The education projects came first, starting with the establishment of the College for Women, way back in 1968. As is well known, other colleges followed, all of which were blended into a University, the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. What was the underlying message? There were actually two. First, education must set character development as the primary objective. As Swami often says, the end of education MUST be character. With every passing day, especially the way things are in the world this message acquires greater and greater significance. The second message is that education must be given free, and must be a responsibility of Society as a whole. When Society takes care of all, everyone would in turn take care of Society – that incidentally is also the lesson the human body teaches us where all organs serve to keep the body alive and the body as a whole in turn takes care of the organs.

What about health? It is the same message there. If Society does not come forward to provide healthcare for all in some manner or the other, and healthcare is available only to those who can afford it, then Society would be sharply divided into the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots, with all the social tensions and the evils that go along with such a division. What is the use of a Society where most people are sick because they do not have the means to stay healthy? That in fact is the situation faced in many countries, especially in Africa.

And it is the same with water. Water cannot be monopolised or made into a commodity that is traded. There are deep and profound issues involved and these are touched upon in the companion article, God, Man and Water which we invite your attention to.

Finally, it is humbling to go way back to 1947 and remind ourselves about what Swami wrote then to His elder brother Seshama Raju:


I have a Task:
To foster all mankind, and ensure for all people lives full of Ananda.

I have a Vow: To lead all who stray away from the straight path, again into goodness and save them.

I am attached to a ‘Work’ that I love: To remove the suffering of the poor and grant them what they lack.

 

Yes, that is Swami. He is far, far more that what He might appear to be. When we talk of Swami’s Love, let us not forget how much He loves humanity and how He who is to be served by us, is instead serving us! Should we not do something at least now about reversing the roles?

- Heart2Heart Team

We are grateful to B Krishna Raju, a Sai worker from Andhra Pradesh, for painstakingly documenting the Godavari Water Project in pictures as well as in video for Prashanthi Digital Studio.



 
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Vol 3 Issue 12 - December 2005
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