The long walk for water

Learn how media gurus Ronnie and Zarina Screwvala took to developing a village in Raigad

When you have a problem in accessing piped water in the city, there is always a municipal number to call. But when you have a similar problem in a village, there is a tendency to believe that this is indeed one’s lot for life and the faster one reconciled to this the better.

This too appeared to be the kismet in village Kalsuri in Raigad with a population of 1237 people belonging to 258 families. In spite of a government water scheme which comprised stand posts, villagers were compelled to fetch water from a well a few hundred metres from the habitat.

When anyone questioned a government agency about the possibility of getting piped water to the village, the usual reply had something to do with patience; when anyone enquired whether any NGO could help, the question would be dismissed with an air of impossibility.

But that is until NGO Swades (started by Ronnie and Zarina Screwvala of Mumbai-based UTV with the objective to touch a million lives every five years) resolved to take this problem headon. Swades arrived at an unusual solution: partnership. The Kalsuri challenge would not be addressed singularly; it would be countered jointly, they planned; technical and material support would come from the company whereas labour (shramdaan) would be contributed by the villagers.

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