Locals at the Babasaheb Ambedkar Airport in Nagpur were taken by surprise when Aamir Khan walked out on Wednesday night accompanied by Marathi stage and film actors, Reema Lagoo, Anil Bhatkal, Sai Tamhankar and Anil Barwe. They were there to take part in a contest on water conservation conducted by the state government. Aamir is the brand ambassador of CM Devendra Fadnavis’s project ‘Jal Yukta Shivar.’
On Thursday, at 4 am, they took off to the Warud taluka of Vidarbha’s Amravati district, one of the worst drought-hit regions in Maharashtra. The reason Aamir handpicked the village of Wathoda was because the locals had begun to save water and his Paani Foundation which will train villagers from 120 villages in water harvesting, wanted to applaud their efforts.
“When we arrived at 6 am, the collector, sarpanch, many MLAs and villagers had already started working. We joined in the ‘shramdaan’,” said Reema Lagoo, recalling studying water harvesting in school. “It was time to take the practises to the fields as ‘dripping therapy’ and ‘sosh khadda’ can help save water.”
The actors dug for four hours, followed by an interaction between Aamir, Satyajit Bhatkal and the villagers. “The villagers wanted to know what other methods of water conservation could be made available to them and Aamir ji answered all of them,” Reema said. Realising the infrastructure was collapsing too, Aamir announced the building of a new road.
Sai believes this is the best way to make Maharashtra drought-free: “Not only is this a superhuman cause but also a campaign that is helping us redeem ourselves.”When Aamir met Fadnavis in mid-February, three drought-hit talukas were selected for water conservation through public participation. They were Warud in Vidarbha’s Amravati district, Ambejogai in Beed of Marathwada, and Koregaon in Satara district.