Redevelopment Alert # 2. Well-Drafted Agreements Don’t Protect Flat Owners

29th May, 2016, Mumbai: If the Development Agreement is well drafted, then flat-owners are safe, right? Well-drafted contract documents protect the flat-owners if the builders don’t honour the contract, right? NO, WRONG! A well-drafted agreement doesn’t give you automatic protection; it gives you the LEGAL RIGHT TO FIGHT to dismiss or penalize a non-performing builder… but you will definitely have to wage a legal battle, and your society will be your enemy, not your supporter. Why?


REASON NO. 1: NO SUO MOTU ENFORCEMENT. Law enforcement agencies and courts are not required to actsuo motu to defend your individual legal rights. Therefore, you have to go to great lengths to convince enforcement agencies and/or courts that (a) you have a certain right under the contractual agreement (b) your right has been violated and (c) you (and not just your society) are a party to the contract. Each of these points have to be proved by you, otherwise your complaint is summarily dismissed. Enforcement agencies and courts are not sympathetic to you; at best, they are indifferent, and at worst, they are biased in favour of builders.


REASON NO. 2: FLAT OWNER IS NOT A PARTY IN DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT. You, the flat-owner, are not the “society” within the meaning of the law. Only the society i.e. the managing committee and more particularly, the office-bearers, have authority to enforce the contract signed with the builder, because the society has signed the contract with the builder.


REASON NO. 3: SOCIETY IS THE LEGAL OWNER OF YOUR FLAT. The law does not recognize you as the “owner” of your own flat; the cooperative housing society is the collective owner of the entire building and compound, and you are only enjoying your flat by virtue of being a member. Therefore, in the eyes of the law, you generally have no “right” to go to court for the enforcement of a contract between the society and the builder.


REASON NO. 4: POLITICS IS NECESSARY. You can only derive your “legal right” with the support of the society. Therefore, you should earn a “political right” to speak and argue. If you are alone or in a tiny minority, or if you are easily silenced, then you have no political right, even if what you say is 100% true. To get justice, you must gather support from other members. If the society’s office-bearers are unwilling to impose penalties, invoke the bank guarantee, or cancel the builder’s contract, then you, the ordinary members, are mostly powerless. Getting the builder dismissed by the society is a political battle rather than just a judicial battle. This battle has to be fought in general-body meetings, and in the minds and hearts of the office-bearers and general body members.


REASON NO. 5: REDEVELOPMENT IS INHERENTLY UNSAFE. A housing society entering redevelopment is like an out-of-control passenger bus with an alcholic driver drinking vodka. Even if everything is perfect at the start of the journey, things can go rapidly downhill at any turn. As a passenger, you may clearly see things going wrong, but you are not in a position to turn the steering wheel or press the brakes.




There are many lessons to be learned from the experience of Kundan Apartment, a small building with 15 members in Jogeshwari East, stuck since 2010 due to non-performance of Tanna Developers. Tanna Developers (or Tanna Realtors as per this website) is a partnership firm headed by managing partner Pathik Tanna and represented by Chartered Accountant Jignesh Tanna.


Without verification of Tanna Developers’ credentials or following 79A Guidelines, the society appointed Tanna Developers in 2010. Tanna applied to MCGM’s Building Proposal Department and got the IOD (Intimation Of Disapproval) in October 2010. And after that, the builder just froze. No actions whatsoever. Zero. So, five of the 15 flat owners, in view of the builders’ continuous non-performance over six years, want to oust them. 


Redevelopment is inherently painful, like getting your teeth pulled without anesthesia!





1) Kundan Apartment’ LOI says: “redevelopment work shall be completed within 18 months from the date of IOD/Commencement Certificate. On failure the Letter Of Intent shall stand withdrawn and the developer shall not be entitled to claim anything from the society.” Another clause says, “TDR shall be purchased in the name of the society, and upon termination of the Development Agreement/MOU, the said TDR shall be the property of the society”. Read para h of LOI:


2) Stamped and registered DA upholds these clauses. DA confirms that terms and conditions are “more particularly recorded in the Letter Of Intent and the Memorandum Of Understanding”. Read para Y of DA .


3) DA says that “Society… will hand over vacant and peaceful possession of all their respective tenements to the developers… within 15 days from the date of Commencement Certificate.” Read para 3A of DA.


4) Bank guarantee mentioned in DA is Rs 50 lakhs – less than market price of even one flat. DA says that bank guarantee can be invoked by society “on demand without demur and enforceable on the certificate of the said society to the concerned bankers that the developers have not completed the construction within the total period of 24 months…” Read para 23 of DA.




a) The society has the upper hand and the contract is subject to a tight deadline. The clauses clarify that Tanna may suffer major losses due to dismissal, forfeiting the cost of TDR, permissions, sanctioned plans, incomplete construction etc. Tanna will not be entitled to claim anything from the society.


b) The 18-month deadline for redevelopment is repeatedly stressed. The bank guarantee can be revoked if the builder does not complete the building in 24 months.


c) DA specifies that society members will give vacant possession only after the Commencement Certificate (CC) is received.So flat owners are still in possession of their own houses – a huge relief.




a) Development Agreement defines the deadline as 18 months from the date of “IOD-CC”. The loophole is that IOD-CC is not a single certificate of permission, IOD (Intimation Of Disapproval) and CC (Commencement Certificate) are two separate permissions. The builder is required to fulfill dozens of conditions specified in the IOD in order to get CC. Tanna Developers, who failed to perform the necessary actions to procure the commencement certificate, can argue that because they did not get CC, the 18-month clock has not started ticking till date.

Counter-argument no. 1: Whose duty is it to fulfill the IOD conditions and procure the CC? The builder’s. The builders’ non-performance has resulted in their not getting CC… and therefore, they cannot use non-arrival of CC as an excuse.

Counter-argument no. 2: The validity period of the IOD is two years. Tanna Developers was supposed to get CC before the IOD expired on 18th October 2012. He did not get CC, but if we take the last date of IOD validity, and count 18 months from there, the deadline for completing the redevelopment would expires in April 2014. Since they hadn’t even commenced redevelopment on that date, they breached the contract, and LOI automatically stands withdrawn.

But only five of the society’s 15 members are speaking up against the builders. As a whole, the society has no political will to hold the builders accountable!


b) The society cannot invoke the bank guarantee because Tanna Developers have not furnished the bank guarantee till date, six years after signing the agreement. Far from telling him to furnish the amount, the managing committee held a meeting in 2015 where it agreed to the builder’s demand to reduce the bank guarantee to Rs 21 lakhs! Unless the society i.e. managing committee, certifies that the builder has failed to meet contractual deadlines, nobody else has the full legal authority to say so. Thus, the Tanna Developers may go on delaying with the managing committee’s blessings!




Kundan Apartment has a huge problem. With the connivance of the elected managing committee, the builder has seized control of the society’s entire records from 1978 till date — bank account books, minutes books, share register, nomination register etc, society registration certificate, bye-laws… the whole bundle! Therefore, unable to submit the society’s records for inspection, the managing committee was dismissed by the Deputy Registrar of Cooperation in February 2015, and an administrator was appointed. The dismissed managing committee still did not hand over its documents to the administrator. In July 2015, the Deputy Registrar passed orders for search-and-seizure of the documents from the managing committee members, and requested police force for this. In October, the managing committee handed over a tiny fraction of the records and the administrator wrote to Jogeshwari Police Station that their assistance was not required. Then the Deputy Registrar developed amnesia. In response to correspondence from the dissenting society members, he started asking, “What documents? In whose custody?”


Three of the five members opposing the builder were briefly appointed by the Deputy Registrar as the Authorized Committee. Despite their best efforts, the missing papers did not emerge. Within three months, elections were ordered to be held, and the former managing committee is back in the driver’s saddle on current date. So, without the society’s essential records, how to go to court? The society and its members are handicapped.




While they were in the Authorized Committee, the dissenting members served Tanna Developers a Legal Notice that pointed out that as per the clauses of the DA, LOI etc, their contract automatically lapsed in April 2014, upon expiry of the maximum allowable period within which the construction was to be completed. It can of course be argued that the Authorized Committee is not the elected managing committee of the society, and cannot serve such a notice. But it can be argued on the other side that the words “On failure, the Letter Of Intent stand withdrawn and the Developer shall not be entitled to claim anything from Society” have an automatic effect, and therefore, no fresh resolution or even legal notice of the society was needed to give effect to these words.


At present, neither side is talking to the other. In this atmosphere of mistrust and vengefulness, the residents of Kundan Apartment are anxiously awaiting another monsoon that will drench its cracked RCC beams, columns and plaster. The elected managing committee, which covers the structure with tarpaulin in some monsoons, seems inclined to allow the building to get thoroughly soaked this year, as if to say, “If you don’t want Tanna Developers, we can all go to hell”.


The sad story of Kundan Apartment will not end until the society pulls itself from the grip of this builder, unites its 15 members and calls for fresh tenders from its redevelopment.



By Krishnaraj Rao


Analysis Finds Monsanto’s GM Corn Nutritionally Dead, Highly Toxic

corn_basketIs GMO corn nutritionally equivalent to non-GMO corn? Monsanto will tell you the answer is a big ‘yes’, but the real answer is absolutely not. And the simple reality is that they are continuing to get away with their blatant misinformation. In fact, a 2012 nutritional analysis of genetically modified corn found that not only is GM corn lacking in vitamins and nutrients when compared to non-GM corn, but the genetic creation also poses numerous health risks due to extreme toxicity.

With the recent passing of the Monsanto Protection Act, there is no question that mega corporations like Monsanto are able to wield enough power to even surpass that of the United States government. The new legislation provides Monsanto with a legal safeguard against federal courts striking down any pending review of dangerous GM crops. It is ironic to see the passing of such a bill in the face of continuous releases of GMO dangers.

Non-GMO Corn 20x Richer in Nutrition than GMO Corn

The 2012 report, entitled 2012 Nutritional Analysis: Comparison of GMO Corn versus Non-GMO Corn, found numerous concerning and notable differences between GMO and non-GMO corn, none of which are particularly surprising. First, the report found that non-GMO corn has considerably more calcium, magnesium,manganese, potassium, iron, and zinc.

  • Non-GMO corn has 6130 ppm of calcium while GMO corn has 14 – non-GMO corn has 437 times more calcium.
  • Non-GMO corn has 113 ppm of magnesium while GMO corn has 2 – non-GMO corn has about 56 times more magnesium.
  • Non-GMO corn has 113 ppm of potassium while GMO corn has 7 – non-GMO corn has 16 times more potassium.
  • Non-GMO corn has 14 ppm of manganese while GMO corn has 2 – non-GMO corn has 7 times more manganese.

As far as energy content goes, non-GMO corn was found to ‘emit 3,400 times more energy per gram, per second compared to GMO corn’, as reported by NaturalNews[1]. Overall, the paper found that non-GMO corn is 20 times richer in nutrition, energy and protein compared to GMO corn.


GMO Corn Also Found to be Highly Toxic

Click Here to read more

Stifling Dissent

The Criminalisation of Peaceful Expression in India – Human Rights Watch

Freedom of expression is protected under the Indian constitution and international treaties to which India is a party. Politicians, pundits, activists, and the general public engage in vigorous debate through newspapers, television, and the Internet, including social media. Successive governments have made commitments to protect freedom of expression.

“Our democracy will not sustain if we can’t guarantee freedom of speech and expression,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in June 2014, after a month in office. Indeed, free speech is so ingrained that Amartya Sen’s 2005 book, The Argumentative Indian, remains as relevant today as ever.

Yet Indian governments at both the national and state level do not always share these values, passing laws and taking harsh actions to criminalize peaceful expression. The government uses draconian laws such as the sedition provisions of the penal code, the criminal defamation law, and laws dealing with hate speech to silence dissent. These laws are vaguely worded, overly broad, and prone to misuse, and have been repeatedly used for political purposes against critics at the national and state level.

While some prosecutions, in the end, have been dismissed or abandoned, many people who have engaged in nothing more than peaceful speech have been arrested, held in pre-trial detention, and subjected to expensive criminal trials. Fear of such actions, combined with uncertainty as to how the statutes will be applied, leads others to engage in self-censorship.

In many cases, successive Indian governments have failed to prevent local officials and private actors from abusing laws criminalizing expression to harass individuals expressing minority views, or to protect such speakers against violent attacks by extremist groups. Too often, it has instead given in to interest groups who, for politically motivated reasons, say they are offended by a certain book, film, or work of art. The authorities then justify restrictions on expression as necessary to protect public order, citing risks of violent protests and communal violence. While there are circumstances in which speech can cross the line into inciting violence and should result in legal action, too often the authorities, particularly at the state level, misuse or allow the misuse of criminal laws as a way to silence critical or minority voices.

This report details how the criminal law is used to limit peaceful expression in India. It documents examples of the ways in which vague or overbroad laws are used to stifle political dissent, harass journalists, restrict activities by nongovernmental organizations, arbitrarily block Internet sites or take down content, and target religious minorities and marginalized communities, such as Dalits.

The report identifies laws that should be repealed or amended to bring them into line with international law and India’s treaty commitments. These laws have been misused, in many cases in defiance of Supreme Court rulings or advisories clarifying their scope. For example, in 1962, the Supreme Court ruled that speech or action constitutes sedition only if it incites or tends to incite disorder or violence. Yet various state governments continue to charge people with sedition even when that standard is not met.

While India’s courts have generally protected freedom of expression, their record is uneven. Some lower courts continue to issue poorly reasoned, speech-limiting decisions, and the Supreme Court, while often a forceful defender of freedom of expression, has at times been inconsistent, leaving lower courts to choose which precedent to emphasize. This lack of consistency has contributed to an inconsistent terrain of free speech rights and left the door open to continued use of the law by local officials and interest groups to harass and intimidate unpopular and dissenting opinions.

The problem in India is not that the constitution does not guarantee free speech, but that it is easy to silence free speech because of a combination of overbroad laws, an inefficient criminal justice system, and the aforementioned lack of jurisprudential consistency. India’s legal system is infamous for being clogged and overwhelmed, leading to long and expensive delays that can discourage even the innocent from fighting for their right to free speech.

Click Here for the full report and more from Human Rights Watch

All you wanted to know about Solar Subsidies in India

All you wanted to know about Solar Subsidies in India – Solar Rooftop, Solar Water Pump sets and Solar Lights

Solar Subsidy in India

I have always received many queries from my readers regarding the availability of solar subsidy in India. Though solar energy prices are becoming comparable to the commercial electricity prices in many states of India, it still commands a large upfront spend initially. The government of India had set up JNNSM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission) in January 2010 to promote solar energy. In this article I am covering subsidies for solar rooftop panels, solar water pump sets and solar lights. Hope it will help the readers to some extent.

Solar Subsidy For Rooftop Solar

The Government will provide a 30% capital subsidy for rooftop solar installations to residential, government, social and institutional segments only. This subsidy is not available for commercial and industrial customers because they can avail other benefits like accelerated depreciation, tax holidays, excise duty exemptions. India increased its rooftop budget by a significant 730% in January this year. The subsidy level could reach as far as 70% for states such as Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar.

These subsidies will be made available through various state government schemes, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and other financial institutions (like State Bank of India). It is a much needed step by the Government to promote rooftop solar installations in India.

Solar Subsidy for Solar Water Pumps

The Government also provides a 40% subsidy on capital costs of a solar PV system (SPV), subject to a maximum amount. For availing subsidy on a solar system, it is important to select a supplier who is approved by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). Only the specified PV systems are eligible for the subsidy. This subsidy scheme is available through NABARD.

The subsidy scheme for solar water pumps differs from state to state. In Rajasthan a farmer typically pays just 14% of the cost of a solar water pump. 30% subsidy is provided under JNNSM scheme and upto 56% is provided by Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and MNRE. The prices of these pump sets are also coming down each year. The Indian state of Kerala will also distribute 1,380 pumps of 3HP capacity at a subsidy of 30%-35%.

Solar Subsidy for Solar Home Lighting

Subsidy available for solar lights in India:



Since most part of the cost is being borne by the government as subsidy, it goes without saying that there would be red-tapism involved in India. Since the funds are limited, a limited number of these solar products are being given out to the farmers/ customers. It is a process of selection by the government whom they wish to grant subsidy, hence it does not seem to be a very lucrative offer in a large populated country like India. All being said, the government of India is trying hard to promote solar in India, however I wish the process was a little more transparent.

Please feel free to share your story of availing subsidy from the government, or add on points that have not been covered in this article in the comments section. Or you can also email us at This way the community at large will benefit.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

How to Link Pan Number with Aadhar Card

How to Link Pan Number with Aadhar Card


Both the PAN card as well as the Aadhar card are unique identification cards that serve as proof of identity that are necessary for registration and verification purposes. The Process to link your Aadhar number with PAN numner or Income Tax Return has been announced by Income Tax Department on July 13, 2015.


Income Tax Department(ITR) has given the facility to link Permanent Account Number (PAN) with the unique identification Number or Aadhar number. It helps you to eliminate the process of sending ITR – V to CPC(Centralised Processing Centre) in Bangalore.


Although PAN Card will be linked with Aadhar number only , if your personal details like Name, Gender, Date of Birth matches with Aadhar data as per PAN Data.


Income Tax Department will validate your name, date of birth, gender as per PAN and Aadhar Number with Centralized database of Unique Identification Authority of India(UIDAI). Please note that if the details do not match, the Aadhar number will not be linked to your PAN.


After the completion of Aadhar and PAN number linking process, you can e-verify your return if your mobile number is registered with UIDAI.


Please be noted that once you linked your Pan number with Aadhar card, you cann’t delinked it. As of now Income Tax Department has not given the facility to delinking PAN number with Aadhar. Follow the simple guide to link PAN number or Income Tax Return with Aadhar number(UID):

  • Login to income tax e-Filing portal.
  • Clipboard01
  • When you logged into the e-filling portal, a pop up window appears on your screen to link your Aadhar Number.



  • If the pop up window will not show automatically, you can go to profile settings under the main menu and click on the link that says Aadhar linked to PAN.
  • Before entering the Aadhar card , be sure to verify your Name, Gender, Date of Birth should matches with PAN Card details.
  • Income tax department will validate all your details and then after cross verifying all the details, enter your Aadhar number, text code.

Note: Don’t have Aadhar Card. Check guide on How to get Aadhar Card.

  • At last, Click on Link Now.
  • After validation, Aadhar number will be linked to your PAN number.

Note: Aadhar will be linked only if the details match.


How to generate EVC through Income Tax site?


  • Go to e-File tab and select “Generate EVC”.Clipboard05


Note: There are two ways to generate EVC(Electronic verification Code). One is via your Netbanking account or second is via your registered email address/phone number. These steps works for second method.



  • Enter the EVC received on your registered email address/mobile number.
  • Click on e-verify return under the E-file tab.
  • Clipboard04
  • There will be four options. Choose first option: “I already have an EVC and I would like to Submit EVC”. Provide the EVC in the text box. Click Submit.
  • Download the Acknowledgement document. Your e-filing is complete. No further action is required from your end now.

Note: In future, Aadhar card not only will be useful but also mandatory to avail benefits of various government schemes and services. I recommend you to check numerous other benefits of having Aadhar Card.



Contributed by Anuradha Chawla –






Finally something for the doctors…

Dr Ramesh Ganesan asked a medico legal question



Judiciary should also come under CPA (Consumer Protection Act).

“Every body must READ and SHARE this article.

–In the Salman Khan hit and run case the LOWER court judge and the HIGH court judge had the SAME pieces of EVIDENCE to deal with.

–They also had the SAME Indian LAW to abide by and most probably they had similar education qualifications too.

–Yet they INTERPRETED the situation in absolutely CONTRASTING manner and gave verdicts which are poles apart.

–Just imagine what would have happened if a YOUNG doctor sitting in a GOVERNMENT hospital doctor catering to hundreds of patients in a day had diagnosed a celebrity patient presenting with gastric discomfort as GASTRITIS and another hospital had LATER on diagnosed that patient to be having a MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION. I am sure that doctor would have been screwed and jailed.

–A JUDGE gets YEARS to decide on a case
unlike a DOCTOR who is expected to diagnose and treat everything in the BLINK of an eye.

–If a doctor making a wrong diagnosis can be prosecuted shouldn’t a judge giving wrong verdicts meet the same fate?

–If hospitals can be sued for not admitting poor patients shouldn’t the courts be prosecuted for having lacs of impending cases?

–Is it not appalling that a judge taking 12 years to give a wrong verdict gets away unhurt and a doctor making one mistake is screwed by our legal system?

–Doctors practice medicine which is more of an art than an exact science whereas law is absolutely 100% manmade, yet doctors are expected to be right on all occasions.

–If doctors and hospitals have a duty towards the society then does the judiciary not have a responsibility towards the socitey.

–If there is so much of hue and cry in media about doctors and hospitals charging huge sums from patients then why do we not ever hear a word on the fee that lawyers like Manu singhvi and Jethmalani charge for their court appearances.

–Government often talks about putting a capping on the fees doctors charge for various procedures but their is no talk of putting a capping on the fee that these lawyers charge to get justice for their clients.

–If health is a citizen’s right then so is justice. Shall we take our minds off worshipping false heroes & think?


Doctors break silence on rot in India’s medical sector

50HCGhospitalPhoto for representation

There is a huge nexus among corporate hospitals, pharma companies and doctors who engage in exploitative practices called ‘target system’ and ‘cuts’ with the motive of earning profits, claims a book by doctors, who broke their silence on rampant malpractices.

In a chilling narrative, the book ‘Dissenting Diagnosis’ says ‘packages’ offered by multispeciality corporate hospitals, incorporating a range of tests under ‘master checkup’, not only drains an individual of his hard-earned money but the collected samples go down the ‘sink’ as well.

The book launched last week lays bare the rot in the medical sector as it gives first person accounts of patients, doctors and pathologists from across the country.

In the book, a pathologist, who did not want to be named, explains that sink tests essentially means samples collected from patients are just thrown into the wash basin without testing as doctors prescribe such tests, which by mutual understanding, are “not actually carried out” by the pathologist.

Dr Arun Gadre and Dr Abhay Shukla, the authors of the book, have also extensively documented other exploitative practices such as the ‘target system’, the concept of ‘cuts’ and how corporate hospitals work like industries with the sole motive of the ‘shareholders’ being “more and more profit”.

Gadre and Shukla write how a senior super-specialist urologist had to leave a corporate hospital because its young MBBS CEO castigated him for not performing a particular operation for removal of a kidney stone where there was no need for any such procedure.

“These hospitals run on a perverted concept. Their only purpose is to satisfy the interests of their shareholders. The more profit the better. They go on prescribing needless investigations and surgeries,” Gadre says.

Shukla says a person had to sell his apartment after a major corporate hospital came up with a bill of an astounding Rs 42 lakh for the treatment of his wife. “The actual expenditure cannot possibly even come close to this.”

Both the authors, associated with Pune-based SATHI which specialises in policy advocacy related to health care, underline the need for a radical “restructuring” of the Medical Council of India (MCI), which they say has turned a blind eye to the systemic assualt on ethics in the medical profession.

“There are hospitals which depict pictures of a person, before and after a surgery. It is impossible to check. Whatever actions the MCI ethics committee take in Delhi, the state councils defy.

“They get into collaboration with the particular doctor. What is the point of taking up the issue with the central MCI when you know the state would defy it and not listen to it. We are now putting pressure on the Central government and saying that the state councils must listen to the observations and punishments by the central MCI,” he said.

Among other shocking revelations, the book describes how in the absence of serious ailments, a “pretence” of surgery is performed, a patient is given anesthesia and some stitches are put on the skin, to show that an operation has been done.

Nowadays doctors do not even record the patient’s history properly, said Dr Punyabrata Goon, a General Practitioner in Kolkata. They just write out a list of investigations as they get a commission for doing that, he says.

“Almost all the laboratories in our area give 50 per cent commission and almost all the doctors accept these commissions. For many doctors, the money earned through commissions is much more than that earned from fees. In our area, the commission rates are: X-rays 25 per cent, and 33 per cent for MRIs and CT scans,” he says.

A young doctor’s lament, on him being pulled up by the CEO of a corporate hospital for “low conversion rate” of 15 per cent as opposed to 40 per cent fixed by the management is also recorded in the book.

Conversion rate means out of the total number of patients seen by the doctor, the percentage which are advised to undergo surgery or procedures.

How One Woman Made 100 Villages in Rajasthan Fertile Using Traditional Water Harvesting Methods

Amla Ruia has transformed the face of over 100 villages in Rajasthan by using traditional water harvesting techniques and building check dams. This is the story of how she made it all possible by engaging the local community and generating an income of Rs. 300 crores per annum for 2 lakh villagers.

It is not unusual to see dry and deserted farms in Rajasthan, a land known for its scorching summers, parched soil and lack of sufficient water to sustain normal life. But there are some villages where water is no longer a problem, farmers are growing not one but three crops a year, and households are even earning additional income from animal husbandry!

Meet Amla Ruia, the ‘water mother’, who made this amazing story possible.


Amla Ruia

Photo: Wikipedia

In 1999/2000, when Rajasthan was going through a severe drought, Mumbai-based social activist Amla read about the poor condition of the farmers there. The photographs in the newspapers and the images she saw on television moved her.

“I saw the government providing water tankers to meet the water needs of the villagers. But I thought to myself that this was not a sustainable solution…there must be a more permanent solution that could help the farmers in the long run,” she recalls.

Amla founded Aakar Charitable Trust to translate her thoughts into action and started researching the water troubles of Rajasthan.

“Rajasthan farmers are among the poorest in the country. Using rain water harvesting technology to alleviate the situation seemed like a good choice. It was important to involve the local community and engage them to make our model more sustainable,” she says.

Amla started her work by constructing check dams near the villages. Check dams, also known as khadin, are structures that involve comparatively small masonry constructions and extensive earthen bunds. They are most effective in hilly terrain where the whole hill range can be used as catchment for the reservoir. They have all the advantages of the large dams and none of the disadvantages, such as displacement and rehabilitation of people, huge underutilized dead storage of water, water logging, risk of breach causing extensive damage to life and property, etc. They are also cost effective.

Her first project in Mandawar village showed great success and the farmers managed to earn as much as Rs. 12 crore within a year with the help of two check dams constructed by the Trust. After that, there was no looking back.

Today, Aakar Charitable Trust has constructed 200 check dams in 100 villages of Rajasthan, and impacted over 2 lakh people who earn a combined income of Rs. 300 crore per year.

check dams in Rajasthan

The Aakar Charitable Trust constructed check dams in the villages to solve their water problems.

ACT works by getting the community on board for each and every project. Almost 40 percent of the cost of construction is borne by the farmers. The construction of one check dam costs around Rs. 5 lakhs and can increase depending upon the size of the dam.

“We were sure that the projects would be successful only if the farmers contributed. We involved the farmers at every step, from sharing the cost to construction and even maintenance. This is how they get a sense of ownership,” she says.

The process of construction of a check dam starts with ACT’s field workers contacting the villagers and spreading awareness about the benefits of water harvesting. Then, some time is spent on deciding on the appropriate location for the dam after consulting with the locals and experts. The villagers then contribute with money and effort.  The construction of a check dam takes two to three months and it is usually ready to be used by the next monsoon.

Thanks to Amla’s intervention, dry villages in Rajasthan have seen a tremendous transformation. All the dry hand pumps and borewells in the areas have been recharged. The women who had to earlier walk several kilometres to fetch water now get clean water at their doorsteps.

check dams in Rajasthan

The construction of a check dam takes two to three months and it is ready to be used by the next monsoon.

The water from the dam is sufficient to irrigate crops for the entire year. The farmers, who could barely grow one crop a year, are now able to grow even three crops in a year. “For the first time, villagers managed to grow rabi. They also manage to grow vegetables now,” she adds.

As the income has increased due to better harvests, farmers have started animal husbandry as well. Many households have 8 to 10 cattle head and income from milk, ghee and khoa. Increased income has often provided 1 to 2 motorbikes per family and 4-5 tractors per village.

“There is less migration to the cities now. Earlier, no one was ready to get their daughters married to the men living in these dry villages. That is not a problem anymore,” says Amla.

It wasn’t easy to achieve these results. Many villagers would often back out of their commitments in the middle of the construction of check dams and ACT had to bear the majority of the costs. Many times, government intervention also created hurdles in the operations. But the team kept going despite these challenges.

check dams in Rajasthan

The women don’t have to walk several kilometres now to collect water.

In the future, Amla and her team want to expand their efforts to other states as well. Much work has already been accomplished in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The organisation is now working in the backward Dantevada district of Chhattisgarh.

To know more about the work of the Aakar Charitable Trust, check out their website.