This educator in Rajasthan has set up a ‘jal sansad’ in schools to helps students harvest, conserve water

The parliament is in session throughout the school year, and as its members, students conduct several activities to ensure conservation of water

By Anil Ashwani Sharma
Published: Monday 21 August 2023

Sheela Asopa, an educator in Rajasthan, has set up student-run jal sansads in more than 150 schools in Jodhpur districtIn just one year, Aiman Bano has seen water practices at her school transform completely. “We ensure that not a drop of water is wasted and have learnt how to fix leaking taps. We have also learnt about harvesting and storing rainwater,” says the student of class 10 at Shyam Sadan School in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur district.

These activities are part of the school’s jal sansad (water parliament), put in place in mid-2022 by Sheela Asopa, after she took charge as the school’s principal.

This parliament is in session throughout the school year, and as its members, students conduct several activities to ensure conservation of water—including periodic audits to gauge how much water is used by each class; rallies, competitions and campaigns to spread awareness; and maintaining a digital calendar and e-magazine to highlight all the water conservation-related activities.

“We also have a nutrition garden, which gets irrigated by water that directly flows from specific hand-washing points in the school,” says Bano, who is a monitor in the sansad and is responsible for conducting water-conservation activities.

Shyam Sadan is not the first school in Rajasthan with a jal sansad. Asopa has set up similar initiatives in several schools across Jodhpur.

“As a child I have seen my mother walk long distances every day to fetch water. This has made me conscious of water conservation. Now, I try to make my students aware of this precious resource," recalls Asopa.

In 2016, as principal of the government school in Dhawa block of Jodhpur, Asopa decided to implement a few programmes to improve students’ involvement in water conservation.

She set up a rainwater harvesting system in the school and encouraged children to conduct water audits from time to time to monitor their usage.

She also taught children about basic plumbing to fix leaking taps. “Some teachers who knew about fixing up taps came forward to teach students. I also took help from plumbers,” she says.

The enthusiasm among students as well as other teachers for undertaking water conservation works encouraged Asopa to replicate the programme in every other school she joined.

In 2020, Asopa was appointed as the education officer for Baori block, where she introduced the sansad in some 150 schools. “Apart from the school-specific activities, we also held drives to clean up unused wells and stepwells in the block. The drives were participated by the parents and other people in the students’ communities,” she says.

“In fact, some communities came forward to finance our initiatives,” she says. In June 2023, the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti has felicitated Asopa with National Water Award. “I am happy that our efforts are being recognised, and want to implement them on a larger scale," she says.

This was first published in the 1-15 August, 2023 print edition of Down To Earth

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.