The Indian state of Gujarat is headed towards its most serious water crisis in history, with its dams only reaching 23% capacity. The situation in Saurashtra, the peninsular region of Gujarat which covers about a third of the state is even more critical. The 137 dams in this region currently total just 8.5% of their total capacity. These numbers are minuscule in comparison to the state’s estimated water consumption needs meaning the water supply could run out in just 100 days if something is not done. As it stands now, some towns are receiving minimal water supplies every 3-4 days with still others every 10-12 days.
Eight out of every ten diamonds in the world are cut and polished in Surat, making Gujarat the world’s largest producer of diamonds. The state’s cutting and polishing exports account for 80% of all diamonds to come out of India and 72% of the world’s diamond exports, all from their LEED certified modern manufacturing facilities. The owners of India’s major diamond companies have deeply rooted family values that extend to the villages surrounding their businesses.
Dharmanandan Diamonds is one such company dedicated to giving back to the community where they do business and where their families have called home for generations. Dharmanandan understood the gravity of the situation in Gujarat, and the impact such a severe water shortage could have on its people. They also knew that simply waiting for monsoons to come to aid was not an option.
Laljibhai Patel, Chairman of the company, has always been an ambassador for rainwater conservation and proactive measures to ensure a secure water supply for the state. Having been raised in a farmer’s family, he understood that uncertain rainfalls had a significant impact on annual crop yields, which in turn, impacted thousands of people across the state not just in access to adequate water supplies, but food as well.
Patel began his aid by executing the creation of three massive ponds spanning 3.5 km in length and 45 feet in depth in the village of Ugamedi, located in the Botad district of Gujarat. These ponds were equipped to hold nearly 25 million liters of fresh water, making them the largest artificial ponds in Gujarat. The village river of Sonal was intended to fill the Ugamedi pond, however, it quickly became clear that this one river alone would not be enough to fill them or sustain the village of Ugamedi and those surrounding it.
They discovered another river, Keri, that could provide a significant water supply to the village and help fill the three ponds. The problem, though, was its location 2.5 kilometers away from Ugamedi and its natural flow away from the village, instead depositing its fresh water supply directly into the Arabian Sea. It was through the construction of a massive 3-foot diameter RCC (Reinforced Cement Concrete) pipeline, that Keri’s water was successfully diverted to the Sonal river, filling the three massive artificial ponds in Ugamedi that would supply the village and those surrounding it.
After over a year of work, with teams tirelessly deepening ponds and linking rivers, these huge artificial ponds originally created are able to stay full throughout the year and recharge the water table by 4 times of its total storage capacity. In addition to the village of Ugamedi, about 40,000 additional people in 20 different villages have access to an adequate supply of fresh water. Now, farmers are able to harvest up to three crops annually compared to just under one crop before this project was executed. Likewise, this project not only raised the water table in Gujarat by an average 40 feet, but enabled 10,000 trees to be planted in the area in an effort to bring a Green Revolution to the state.
This river linking project is a first of its kind that has been successfully executed in India and became the first-ever National Model of inspiration in the field of rainwater conservation.
Dharmanandan’s dedication to helping its community is another example of how Diamonds Do Good.