Showers of grace|
Sathya Sai Seva Organisation has quenched the thirst of 800
The Week, May
Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba announced last November
that he would be supplying drinking water to parched Chennai, the
people heaved a collective sigh of relief. They knew that this
promise would be kept because in the past decade, the Sri Sathya
Sai Seva Organisation has achieved a phenomenal success in
conceiving and implementing water supply schemes in south India.
Thanks to the
Sai water project, over a million people in Anantapur have potable
water at the turn of a tap
The maiden venture was the Sri Sathya Sai water supply project for
Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh. During his birthday
celebrations in November 1994, Baba declared that, within a year,
he would provide drinking water to 800 villages of the district in
the drought-prone Rayalaseema region. Few thought it would be
possible but, on November 18, 1995, the scheme was ready, and
Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao dedicated it to the nation.
The project had been funded by the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust
with unsolicited contributions from people worldwide. The work
involved the laying of 2,500 kilometres of large pipes,
construction of 18 balancing reservoirs, many summer storage tanks
and 125 ground level reservoirs and the drilling of borewells.
Starting the work in March 1995, Larsen & Toubro completed it in
nine months, tapping a canal of the Tungabhadra for water. For
Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, this assurance of drinking water
throughout the year in the most drought-prone areas of the state
was manna from heaven!
Thanks to the project, over a million people in Anantapur have
potable water at the turn of a tap. This area was notorious for
fluorosis, a disease that cripples because of excessive fluorine
in drinking water. Now, it will be a bane of the past. What is
most striking, however, is that so much has been achieved without
building any huge dam that submerges forests and dislocates
people. Contrast this with the Sardar Sarovar dam project which
has run into several years and millions of dollars in cost and is
yet to provide drinking water even to one town, but has submerged
forests and villages and caused incalculable damage and misery to
The Sai water project essentially consists of four schemes; one, a
protected water supply scheme for areas around the Chitravati,
Pennar and Hagari rivers involving infiltration wells, collection
wells and associated pumping. In the case of the Chitravati, the
balancing reservoir at Peddakotla covers 169 villages.
Infiltration wells related to the other two rivers cover another
93 villages. Another 93 villages get water directly pumped from
the Penna Ahobilam balancing reservoir and treated through a rapid
sand filtration system.
A comprehensive water supply scheme taps the water flowing through
the Tungabhadra high level canal and stores it in seven summer
storage tanks, some of which are 100 acres in area; this takes
care of 97 villages. Through deep borewells, construction of
storage tanks and adequate pipeline networks, an additional 270
villages get protected water supply.
The water supply system was handed over to the government in 1996
and in a gesture of appreciation the postal department issued a
stamp on the water project during Baba's birthday celebrations in
The success of the project brought a flood of requests from the
public and the Sai Seva Organisation has subsequently taken up
water supply projects for Medak and Mehboob-nagar in Andhra
Pradesh and in certain areas of Karnataka at the government's
request. These projects are all running on schedule. And peo-ple
call them Baba's shower of grace.