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Making Maharashtra Drought Free Will Give Me More Satisfaction: Aamir Khan

Mumbai: Actor Aamir Khan, whose latest release Dangal is shattering box office records, said that success of his endeavour to make Maharashtra drought free will give him more satisfaction.

“Just like I am nervous and tense before the release of my films, I am anxious about the second edition of Satyamev Jayate Water Cup organised by our Paani foundation,” Aamir told reporters here at the launch of the second edition of the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup.

“We are reaching out to 30 talukas in 13 districts. If the project works well and we contribute to make Maharashtra drought free, that will give me more satisfaction than the success of my films,” said the 51-year-old star. He said last year the competition was among 116 villages in three talukas and now 30 talukas in 13 districts are being covered.

“It gives me satisfaction that we have been able to inspire confidence among the villagers that they can overcome water crisis. The idea of Paani Foundation came during my interaction with (Maharashtra) chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was passionate about Jalyukt Shivar, his flagship water conservation programme.

“Water security needs to be a people’s movement. I was discussing with him about my plans for doing something for water conservation and I was impressed with the Chief Minister’s passion,” said the actor.

The selected talukas are Purandar, Indapur in Pune district, Karanja in Washim, Koregaon, Maan, Khatav in Satara, Fulambri, Khultabad in Aurangabad, Bharni, Paranda, Kalamb in Osmanabad, Ausa and Nilanga in Latur, Arvi in Wardha, Ralegaon, Kalamb and Umerkhed in Yavatmal among others. Fadnavis described Aamir as a ‘Jal-Sevak’. “Aamir is like Hanuman. He has to be reminded of his strengths. He was unsure of whether he would be able to handle the project perfectly. He organises everything so perfectly whenever he takes a responsibility.”

He said the Paani Foundation has given a new dimension to people’s movement on water security. “One can’t rely only on government support. ‘Paani adva, paani jirva‘ (the water conservation slogan of the state government for 40 years) was just a slogan and not a people’s movement. Communication is important. Aamir is a good communicator and he has converted struggle for water conservation into a celebration,” said the CM.

Photo by Yogen Shah

Fadnavis said, “Swach Bharat Mission has created awareness about open defecation free villages.” “People’s movement on water security will create a water army to make the state drought free,” he added. The CM said he is planning to organise a review meeting of all stake holders in water conservation regarding work done in the last two years.

“We will discuss experiences and the transformation needed”, he added. The Chief Minister said 4,000 villages are now tanker free. He said there was no room for complacency because there have been good rains. Aamir, 51, said the state needs to work continuously on water conservation irrespective on the rains. The water cup is a competition between different villages to see who can do maximum work for watershed management and water conservation.

The competition period is from April 8 to May 22. The top three villages will get Rs 50 lakh, Rs 30 lakh and Rs 20 lakh respectively. The top village from each taluka will get Rs 10 lakh. The last date for villages to apply for the competition in 30 selected talukas is January 31. Satyajit Bhatkal, CEO of Paani Foundation said 1360 crore litre water was stored in the first edition.

“As many as 116 villages in three talukas had participated. Now we have received applications from 200 villagers from the first round to be trainers for the villages participating in the second round where 55 lakh population is being covered,” he added.