Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
Driven by his passion to build an environmentally sustainable eco-system that ensures habitation of all its elements with any danger to any, environmentalist Rakesh Khatri has undertaken a project on water conservation, Neer, Naari Aur Vigyan. Khatri runs Eco Roots Foundation, an organisation that works for conservation of environment.
As the name suggests, the project highlights the importance of conserving water, and what better way than to target young children, that too girls, in spreading this awareness.
Khatri talks about the importance of conserving water through the theatre workshops that involve young children, studying in classes between six and nine, of different government schools and Kendriya VIdyalayas.
“Women play an important role in water storage at homes. Be it cities or villages, women are the ones who not only store water but also ensure that it is used optimally without wastage. We thought if we can involve young girls and educate them on the scientific ways of conserving water they will be able to handle the situation better in the coming years, which in any way are set to see more shortage of this precious liquid,” says Khatri, adding that the programme is being done in collaboration with the NCSTC division of the Department of Science and Technology. “And we are being supported by NCSTC scientist Dr Pomposh Kumar,” he says.
“Women play a major role in consumption and conservation of water and we are trying to educate them on the scientific ways of doing,” says Khatri. The project started in November 2016 and has so far covered 170 schools over 16 cities in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. About 70 more schools in Meghalaya and Rajasthan are yet to be covered.
“We are working in areas where there is scarcity of water. The girls are to make stage or street plays on women who have helped conserve water in their area,” he says. The children are told to prepare small skits, street plays in simple language on the importance of water, its use, conservation and recharging. They are told to talk about scientific ways of conserving water like drip irrigation. Mime, posters etc all are used to convey the message. “Students work on the script of the skits and also enact them, forcing people to think on these serious issues,” says Khatri, adding, “Their lives of women and water are inter-twined, and kind of water scarcity has the most adverse effect on the lives of women.”
The innovative scripts that children come up are surely astounding. At Indore they put up a set of National Green Tribunal and spoke about not just water but also about other dwindling natural resources. “Theatre, indeed, is the best way to teach children and children in turn act as messengers,” he adds.