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City-based water conservationist to receive Jamnalal Bajaj Award

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Ayyappa Masagi
Ayyappa Masagi

Staff Reporter

Experiment by Ayyappa Masagi in his village changes his life

He plans to work with corporate firms on

water management

‘We have conducted 850 programmes on

water conservation’

Bangalore: A small experiment in his native village, Veerapura, in Gadag district, to help conserve water and save his farm from drying up in 1994, inspired him to become a water conservationist. Today, he is one of the recipients of the prestigious Jamnalal Bajaj Award for 2009, which offers a citation and prize money worth Rs. 5 lakh. Meet Ayyappa Masagi, who is also known as the “doctor of dry borewells”.

Training people to become “water warriors”, he hopes to strike a balance between water use and water replenishment, as well as inculcate the spirit of “water efficiency” and water conservation among people.

After working as a mechanical engineer with Larsen and Tubro for 24 years, Mr. Masagi resigned from service in 2002 to begin work on water literacy. Ahead of receiving his award – that will be presented on November 6 – he spoke to The Hindu about his work.

“Based on the success of the small experiment I did in my village, I decided to spread awareness on water conservation, towards which I started a water literacy movement in 1998. With the cooperation of the people, a 50-acre lake was built by recharging 29 tubewells in a remote village called Nullure in Gadag district. Kuntanahalli in Doddaballapura taluk of Bangalore was also recharged, and this experiment also succeeded,” he said.

“We conducted 850 programmes on water literacy training, educating nearly 27 lakh people. They enabled Rs. 37 crore to be spent on water conservation. Till now, nearly 70,000 dried-up borewells have been revived, resulting in the self-sustenance of over 1,000 villages,” he claimed.

Mr. Masagi is now trying to reach out to the corporate world in a bid to implement and integrate water management systems. He plans to work with companies such as Jindal Steels, Kennemetal Widia, Ajax, SKF Bearings, Welcast and ACE Designers in this regard.

Mr. Masagi has several awards to his credit including a National Award as the Father of Barren Borewells and an Ashoka Fellowship from the Ashoka Foundation in 2004 among many others.

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