Of all the water that exists on our planet, around 97% is salt water. Of the 3% or so of fresh water available, almost half of it remains frozen in glaciers, ice caps, or deep underground aquifers. Yes – just around 1.5% is available for our use, making every drop count. Further, with continuing population growth and industrial growth, demand continues to escalate in a supply-constrained domain.

Improving the Lives in Rural India by Technology-enabled Solutions

Vision

WHEELS Water Council aspires to become ‘trusted partners’ to catalyze holistic rural resurgence through Collaborative Governance for rural infrastructure and, integrated water conservation and management with technology as the enabler.

Mission

Interventions for use of appropriate technology in the country at scale with collaborative multi-stakeholder partnerships, leverage best practices spanning academia, scientific and research organizations, IITs, social enterprises, grassroots organizations, Industry, and others.

The Water Management Portal is a technology tool to connect Development Partners with the government at the village level, in a seamless & harmonious manner. The HP Pilot project provides the Proof of Concept. It has been released for Visitor access to ensure public visibility and scrutiny. It is designed for replication and scalability and is available to Development Partners and Government Agencies as a foundational block that can be built upon, as required.

Project Overview of Collaborative Governance - WHEELS Water Council (WCC)

Team Leaders

Mrs. Gauri Kumar

Gauri Kumar

Gauri Kumar is a Chairperson of WHEELS Water Council, Retd. member of the 1979 batch of Indian Administrative Services (IAS), Former Secretary to Govt of India & Former Chairperson, Public Sector Enterprises Board, Govt. of India.  In the course of her distinguished career, she served as Secretary to Government of India, in the Union Ministry of Labour & Employment, the Cabinet Secretariat and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (Border Management). She served as Member/Chairperson of the Public Enterprises Selection Board, post her retirement. She has served in various capacities in the Union Ministries of Mines, Environment and Forests, Finance and Textiles. While serving with the Government of Gujarat, Mrs Kumar has held the positions of Principal Secretary, Urban Development; Principal Secretary, Industries & Mines; Industries Commissioner and Secretary, Education Department. The Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2009 was held under her stewardship.

Gauri Kumar holds a Master in Public Administration degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. She was awarded the Littauer Fellowship by Harvard University, for her commitment to excellence, academic achievement, and public service. She is also the recipient of seven gold medals by Lucknow University, for exceptional academic distinction during her Master’s study in Mathematics. She is currently an Independent Director on the Boards of several distinguished companies and has been appointed by the Chief Vigilance Commissioner to serve as Independent External Monitor for two organisations. She is the Founder Trustee of VayahVikas, an organization for the elderly, based in Bengaluru.

She is a Member of the Board of Governors of Sardar Patel Institute of Public Administration, Ahmedabad.She is the Delhi Public School (DPS) Society nominee on the Management Committees of several DPS schools in Gujarat and UP. She is a Special Invitee to the Management Committee of the Bangalore Chamber of Industry & Commerce (BCIC). She chairs the Water Council constituted by the WHEELS Global Foundation (a pan IIT philanthropic arm). A Pilot Project for Integrated Water Management, based on Scientific Data and Evidence-based Decision Support System, has been launched in Himachal Pradesh. It aspires to create a model of collaborative governance for holistic rural resurgence.

She is the Founder of an Edu tech startup which has launched an integrated Learning Platform for the education eco-system, encompassing teachers, students, parents, and schools. It’s positioned as a medium for making quality education accessible at scale. She has contributed a chapter on ‘Industry and Labour’ in the recently published book ‘Accelerating India: 7 Years of Modi Government’, edited by Shri K J Alphons, Member of Parliament, and a foreword by Shri Ajit Doval, National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister of India.

Yogesh Andlay

Yogesh Andlay is a founding team member of several leading well-known companies in the IT, consultancy, and education fields. He is the Co-founder of Nucleus Software, Grows Talent Co Ltd., and School of Inspired Leadership. Yogesh, the alumnus of the IITD 1979 batch, was President of the IIT Delhi Alumni Association during the year 2006-07. He has also been an active participant in PanIIT Alumni activities. Yogesh serves on the board of SOIL – School of Inspired Leadership (www.soilindia.net).

SOIL has been recognized as a pioneer in leadership education and has won laurels for its unique approach to leadership development. It is founded on five pillars of mindfulness, ethics, compassion, diversity, and sustainability. Yogesh has been an advisor to the Millennium Alliance program of FICCI. Millennium Alliance is a fund set up jointly by USAID, DST, DFID (UKAID), and several other organizations. In the last five years, Millennium Alliance has supported more than 120 social sector innovations impacting about 10 million people. These have been selected from amongst about 5,000 applicants who applied for this catalytic funding. These enterprises have been in the field of education, healthcare, agriculture, energy, water, sanitation, etc. In addition, he served as a Co-Chair of the Startup Committee of FICCI and a member of the Science and Technology Board of FICCI. He is a sought-after mentor by the entrepreneurs incubated at FICCI-supported incubators and accelerators. Yogesh is an active participant in Mission Samriddhi. Mission Samriddhi is a Social Development and Acceleration project in India. Yogesh is a member of the Executive Council of Mission Samriddhi. Yogesh serves on the board of WHEELS Charitable Foundation. He is a member of the team working on the Pilot Project for Integrated Water Management based on Scientific Data and Evidence for Himachal Pradesh. Yogesh is a certified Executive Coach.

Sushil Bhatia

Dr. Sushil Bhatia is the President of Anu Data Inc. He pursued his B.Tech. in Electrical Engineering from IIT Bombay in 1966 and later Ph.D. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1972.

Recollecting memories associated with IIT Bombay, he said, “Those were the days. First time out of my parents’ house and living by myself. Making new friends, playing, teasing, bonding, having fun along with learning technical skills. Learning to learn technology as well as dealing with people”.

Mansi Sharma

Mansi Sharma is a Research Associate at Mission Samriddhi, a social impact enterprise operating to build findings for the organization to achieve its goal of holistic human development at various levels. As a communications associate, she works to bridge the gap between people and the organization, both internally and externally.

Building a structure where exchanging ideas is smooth and creates efficiency. She is an experienced project coordinator who has worked with Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, an autonomous body under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India with decent skills in the International Affairs Industry holding considerable knowledge about the theories of IR. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics Hons. from Delhi University and did her Masters in International Relations from Anglia Ruskin University, the UK.

Team Members

Ambassador Pradeep KapurExecutive Director, Smart Village Development Framework (SVDF) – WGF, Former Ambassador of India & Secretary – Govt of India
Suresh ShenoyPresident – WHEELS Global Foundation, President – Alyxtech Inc.
Ashank DesaiChairperson – WGF India, Co-founder & Former Chairperson – Mastek
SmitaSiddhantiProgram Director (Livelihood) – WHEELS Global Foundation, President – EnDyna Inc.
Prof. Ranjan Kumar GhoshAssociate Professor, Center for Management in Agriculture – IIM Ahmedabad
Ratan AgarwalBoard Member – WGF, Co-founder & Managing Partner – CARBON Group Global
Pradeep NadkarniSecretary – WHEELS Global Foundation, Founder – Paradigm Inc.

Mentors

Dr. Raj ShahChairman – HealthCare Council – WHEELS Global Foundation
Mr. Kewal NohriaCEO Co-Founder, World BPO/ITO Forum
Mr. Shantilal MutthaFounder, Shantilal Muttha Foundation
Prof Sudhir JainVice-Chancellor, Banaras Hindu University
Mr. Joseph FernandesPresident and Co-Founder – IIT-IIT.org
Mr. Sundar KamathSenior VP (Technology), CTO – Sanmina Corporation
Mr. Apoorva OzaCEO – Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP, India)
Prof Ajit ChaturvediDirector – IIT-Roorkee
Dr. Bhakti DeviNational President of Water Resources Council
Mr. Kartik KilachandExecutive Chairman – IITians Influencing India’s Transformation
Dr. Prakasam TataExecutive Director – Center for the Transformation of Waste Technology
Mr. Dunu RoyChemical Engineer, Social Scientist & Political Ecologist
Dr. Cecilia TortajadaProfessor in Practice – Environmental Innovation, School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow, UK, and Editor in Chief, International Journal of Water Resources Development
Sh Asit K. BiswasRecipient – Stockholm Water Prize, Founder – Third World Centre for Water Management, Distinguished Visiting Professor – Lee Kuan Yew School for Public Policy
Sh R. k. MalhotraConsultant – World Bank

3rd International Conference on Water Technologies - IIT Bombay

WHEELS Water Council was invited to make a presentation at a Conference on Water at IIT Bombay. on 5th December 2023. 

 

Water Council Co-Chair Yogesh Andlay presented about the programs undertaken by the Water Council at WGF.

MoU with Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) for Restoration and Revival of Water bodies and Holistic Community Development

We are very happy to share that we have recently signed and exchanged a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) and WHEELS Global Foundation (WGF)   for Restoration and Revival of Water bodies and Holistic Community Development, leveraging our Himachal Pradesh collaborative governance model and the Execution Convergence Portal. 

An Agreement of Association (AOA) between WGF and its champion consortium partners was also signed and enclosed with the MoU. Our Partners with proven experience in the relevant fields  are ATE Chandra Foundation and Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. Spoken Tutorial of IIT, Bombay will support in community communication and IT training etc. 

The Project is to commence from 15th January, 2023. The Inception meeting was held on 6th January. It’s heartening to mention the background of the Project. Dr Arun Veer Singh, CEO, YEIDA, invited WGF for a presentation on 30th Nov. 2022. We met CEO, YEIDA together with several of WGF partners and discussed the need of restoration and rejuvenation of water ponds and holistic community development in the villages in YEIDA’s administrative jurisdiction. Based on multiple discussions between all of us, a draft MOU and draft AOA was finalised with detailed action plan for outcomes in the following areas:

Natural Resources Productivity and Climate Change

Economic and livelihoods

Community institutions and sustainability

Social & Health

The Execution Convergence Portal for Collaborative Governance, developed by WGF for Rural Resurgence through Water Security for rejuvenation of springs in Himachal Pradesh, will be implemented for this project also. The AoA details the tasks etc to be carried out, which will be mapped in the Portal.

The Himachal Pradesh project gave an effective fund multiplier of 1:10 for contributions, through leveraging convergence with schemes of the government under the formal MoU. The state government is now taking up 500 more springs for rejuvenation in HP which provides almost a 100 times scalability of the Pilot project, from 55 to 500 springs, covering almost the whole state. The YEIDA project provides replicability of the Collaborative Governance model for water management-led holistic community development, initiated in HP, with the technology Portal as the anchor.

Waste segregation awareness to educate children in Achhepur Village of YEIDA- A street performance by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham students

Water Security through Spring Rejuvenation (WASSR) in Himachal Pradesh

Water is a critical resource that impacts rural livelihood, economy and health. It is intricately linked to the achievement of several Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) such as SDG 3: Good Health; SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation; and SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities. The Indian government launched Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) in 2019 which is aimed at providing tap-water connections to every household based on a community approach that includes extensive information, education and communication as the key components. Tap – water connections within the household aim to reduce drudgery and enhance ease of living especially for young girls and women who are often burdened with the task of fetching water by walking long distances.

In mountainous regions, springs serve as the key source of water for these piped water systems. However, in recent times nearly 60% of the springs in Himalayan regions of India have witnessed decline in discharge (Niti Aayog, 2018) thereby, posing high risks to water flows after the tap-water systems have been installed. This points to an urgent need for source augmentation through rejuvenation of springs. It is in this context that WHEELS Global Foundation Water Council is working with the State Government of Himachal Pradesh for a scalable and replicable pilot project for spring source augmentation through integrated water management, known as WHEELS-WASSR (Water Security through Spring Rejuvenation). It is based on scientific data and evidence-based decision support systems and is being implemented in 22 selected villages of Bilaspur, Solan, Mandi, and Kangra districts in Himachal Pradesh.

WHEELS-WASSR was initiated in April 2021 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Himachal Pradesh state government. The main vision of the project is to create a governance paradigm for a holistic and sustainable village infrastructure led model, through convergence between government schemes and departments and a consortium of various partners at state, district and panchayat level with proven capabilities in gap areas. The works are carried out by the state’s departments of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Jal Shakti, Forest, and Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Husbandry. A key feature of the initiative is to build robust systems, processes, and monitoring mechanisms driven primarily by a unified Portal that anchors seamless & coordinated implementation of the project. The Portal enables a platform for directing all activities by the consortium partners and the state government departments, within specified and agreed timelines, to deliver the envisaged outcomes in terms of natural resource productivity, economic impacts, social impacts, and a sustainable model of governance. Later, recommendations were formed by People’s Science Institute (PSI) and submitted to various departments and works were carried on as per recommendations. The impact analysis was carried on in September 2022.

The project was envisioned to cover 45 springs in 22 villages but, later on 10 additional springs were added on the recommendation of Jal Shakti Vibhag. Thus, at present, the project covers 55 springs in 32 villages with a total affected population of 10,724.

Preliminary Impact Assessment

The impact assessment has been carried out through collecting primary and secondary data along with primary stakeholder interviews with state level officers including Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Director of Rural and Panchayati Raj Department (RD), Superintending Engineer (SE) of Jal Shakti Vibhag, concerned Indian Administrative (IAS) officers and Indian Forest services (IFS) officers, district and block level officers of various departments including Department of Information Technology (IT), Panchayat representatives, communities and District Implementation Agencies (DIAs). The tools for the primary study included a questionnaire involving the direct and open-ended questions to relevant stakeholders. We summarize how the project has impacted across major categories related to Source Augmentation, Natural Resource Management, Socio-Economic Parameters & Program Sustainability.

  • Source Augmentation

The primary impact has been on water flow or discharge from the springs that witnessed a significant jump. The total discharge from 45 project affected springs increased from approximately 514 liters/minute to 826 liters/minute. This led to an average per capita water availability increase by 60.45%.

  • Natural Resource Management

Springs which were on a verge of depletion were selected for rejuvenation with a focus to recharge groundwater. We found that this has led to an increase in water discharge by over 60% in a span of one year of project intervention. With the intervention of this project, water quality has improved implying safer drinking water for the locals. With groundwater recharged, and the plantations done, the water retention levels of the soil have increased, adding to the moisture content of the soil. Better soil health ensures increased biomass productivity, increased soil fertility to enhance agriculture, horticulture, and fodder growth.

  • Socio-economic Parameters

Given the scarce population in the hills, better soil has improved the chances of carrying out agricultural practices, thus increasing employment opportunities and reducing migration. With water security, time and resources used for water procurement have been forgone, and are being diverted for better uses. The local population have been employed through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (or MGNREGA), which has helped in income-generation, as the necessary constructions are made for spring rejuvenation.

Springs serve as means to water security and align with religious practices; thus, well-maintained springs bear psychological utility of the local communities. Traditionally women are involved in water procurement for households, and rejuvenated springs reduce time and resources spent there which can be used for income-generating activities.

We observed that the district implementing agencies integrated local participation through water user groups like “Paani Samitis” and “Mahila mandals” to take charge of maintenance and cleanliness, giving more power to women. These local bodies are integrated with SHGs, thus increasing savings and involvement of banking in the process. Interviewed villagers felt that safer drinking water has reduced incidences of water-borne diseases, thus reducing medical expenses by approximately 10% on an average and better health conditions.

  • Program Sustainability

The portal is the main driver for program sustainability as it is designed to be a single point source for all village level data and information. We observed that the project included cadre training and spreading awareness to the local communities regarding the importance of springs and the problems of water depletion. Water User Groups have been formed, comprising of locals, which are in charge of maintenance and cleanliness of springs. This has reduced future dependence on the administration. Affected villagers expressed their eagerness to maintain the springs having witnessed higher discharge, thus ensuring longevity of the project. Below figure summarizes the key impacts across identified categories after 1 year of implementation of the project.

Increase in water discharge from project springs

Summary Indicators
Before WASSR (July-August, 2021)
After WASSR (July-August,2022)

Total discharge (Litre/Minute)

514.81

826.02

Total Population catered

10724

10724

Total Households catered

1714

1714

Average water discharge per capita (litre/minute)

0.05

0.08

Average Water discharge HH wise (litre/minute)

0.30

0.48

Percentage change per capita

60.45

Source: IIMA team for the post-WASSR measurements; before-WASSR measurements are as shared by DIAs

Case Study - Lag Chaouwada Suhada Spring

This is a natural spring in the Jhandutta block of Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh. The People’s Science Institute (PSI) identified the spring as a part of the project which was under Irrigation and Public Health department (IPH). Water was supplied through pipes to the households in the villages of Lag and Bagla through the open spring, thus catering to 113 families in the villages. Since, the spring was exposed to open environment, the quality of water provided through the spring was not good enough. As part of the WASSR project, Manav Vikas Sanstha (MVS) intervened and made the people aware regarding the drawbacks of the open spring and the deterioration in the water quality due to it.

With awareness created by MVS, community members took the initiative to cover the spring. Inspiration for the design came from a similar spring in Hamirpur block. They also added an innovation of making a hand pump and a lever system from the spring so that water could be retrieved without accessing the spring physically. MVS, in order to encourage the people working for the spring made them the members of the Panni Samiti (Water User Group), which provided them with a recognition in the village as well. The total cost of this intervention was INR 1,29,100 resulting in a per capita expenditure of 387 Rupees and a per household expenditure of INR 1143. In comparison to this, other water supply alternatives, according to expert estimates, cost on an average of 15,000 INR/capita.

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Collaborative Governance: Lessons from Spring Rejuvenation Pilot in Himachal Pradesh

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