Kisan Ubhe felt like a “Neta, jo vote mangne nikla hai. Sabki nazar mujh pe thi (a politician, who is canvassing for votes. All eyes were on me),” he laughs and adds “I truly felt proud of being a plumber.” All this thanks to RC Pune Shivajinagar, D 3131, that has undertaken the replacement of leaking taps in Pune. A survey undertaken by the Pune Corporation revealed that 40 per cent of water wastage (about 10 million litres of water every year) was a result of leaking taps in the region. Shocked at the rate of water deficit, Rtn Makrand Tillu from the club prepared a blueprint for a “leak-proof city,” and was “supported by club President Gauri Shikarpur, who advocated this initiative to every club in the District,” he says.
Being a laughter yoga trainer for different schools worked to his advantage, and with the help of fellow Rotarians, he began shortlisting schools close to the slums in Pune. “Public taps are a pathetic sight in the slums and everyone thinks maintenance is the Government’s job,” he says. The first task was to sensitise the students to conserve water. “Sir (Tillu) made us understand that rich or poor, our source of water comes from the same place and we need to conserve it for the future,” says Madan, a Class 7 student.
The students prepared placards, banners and slogans to sensitise the public on conserving water, says Nilima Pradeep Khonde, the Principal of Madyamic Vidyalaya. Each rally had about 600 students and it looked like a “Baraat (wedding procession),” except that “dulhe ki jagha plumber tha aur music ke badley narey (a plumber in place of the groom and slogans instead of music). These kids did a wonderful job,” says Rtn Sanjeev Choudari. Students advised the locals to put a bottle beneath a leaking tap and inform the school close by so that it could be replaced immediately.
“Our Interact club identified 172 defective taps,” says Rtn Gauri Shikarpur. “Rotarians donated 172 taps on the same day and we replaced them immediately,” she adds. Today over 31,000 students from 735 school, with the help of all the Rotary clubs in D 3131, have successfully replaced 5,000 taps and “we saved 60 ml of water per 60 seconds.” Anu Anil Singh, a class 8 student, works the Math mentally and quips “that would be 31,536 litres per tap each day.”