“When I was young, my mother would wake up everyday at 4 am to fill water for us on the footpath. There was one tap in our area and water was available for half an hour only. Some wouldn’t stand in the queue and that would lead to fights almost every other day. Those are the memories I have when I talk about water scarcity. Watching my mother go through so much for one bucket of water made me very conscious. Even when I visited my friends’ houses, I would be disturbed if I heard any tap leaking. The “tapak tapak” sounds of water would trigger memories from my childhood, and it would feel like someone was hammering in my ear. I would alert my friends and they would pacify me by saying ‘It’ll be ok’. But even after six months, the tap would still be leaking.
One day, I came across an article about water conservation. It said: “If one drop of water is wasted in one second, then in one month, 1000 litres of water will go down the drain.” I was shocked. That’s when I decided to hire a plumber for a couple of hours every Sunday and go to my friends’ houses to get their leaking taps fixed for free. I did this for another week. I didn’t have any big concept in my head when doing so, but after doing it, I felt so good. The pain that I had in me started to reduce. So I started doing this regularly and it became the foundation for the initiative – Drop Dead Foundation, which began in 2007.
I came up with a plan. We first choose a house/ apartment, and get permission from the secretary of the housing society on every Monday. Post that, my volunteers and I stick posters that read: Save every drop or DROP DEAD. On Saturday, we drop pamphlets at the doorstep of every house with the help of the watchmen. This helps us receive a warm welcome from people. If the right awareness is created, everybody understands the importance of water conservation. That’s the idea and aim! However, our expenditure started increasing after a few weeks. But when you want to do something good for people, God shows you the way. I once got some money as an award – I used that for a couple of years. Later, Mr. Amitabh Bachchan invited me for his talk show and in the end, he announced 11 lakh rupees as a donation. Even Maharashtra government has helped me with Rs. 50,000 in form of an award.
While money wasn’t an issue, motivation among people was necessary. During my talks across India, people would tell me they want to start this in their areas. But that was a small group. To encourage others, I decided to create posters on the basis of religion. If you tell people that the orders come from Lord Krishna or Prophet Muhammad, they will gladly do it. It actually worked!
In the last 14 years, if I could save 13 million litres of water single-handedly, you also can. Even if you are unable to take a plumber and go to your friend’s place, you can atleast stop the water leaking by closing the taps. That’s all it takes – for each one of us to be aware and conscious of the resources. This is for us and our next generation.”
Picture Courtesy: DD Foundation,
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