• 30/08/2001

For the villagers of Lava ka Baas in Alwar district of Rajasthan, the Ramon Magsaysay award for Rajendra Singh, secretary of the Alwar-based Tarun Bharat Sangh could not have come at a more opportune time. After their face off with the irrigation department, who questioned the safety and the legality of the johad that the villagers had constructed on a nalla that feeds into the Ruparel river, the award has silenced, at least for the time being, critics of community-based water harvesting.

The award goes to Singh for his outstanding contribution in mobilising the villagers across Rajasthan and India to harvest the rain to meet their own water demands. An award justly deserved, it has served several purposes in addition to throwing up several issues. It recognises Singh's efforts in community leadership. The villagers now stand vindicated in their stand for harvesting rain. And above all, no one will, at least for the time being, dare destroy the johad in Lava ka Baas.

In an absolute volte face Rajasthan irrigation minister Kamala Beniwal has congratulated Rajendra and urged him to

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