Renowned yogi and mystic Sadhguru has spoken to Republic about his campaign 'Cauvery Calling' which entailed a 2-week journey on a motorbike, riding for over 3000 km in a water conservation-aimed initiative. Talking about the necessity of the campaign, Sadhguru began the interaction by explaining why India is in a dire need to understand the ecosystem. He elaborated that in order to save water and the rivers, the focus should be on enriching the soil and vegetation as the three are interlinked.
"Cauvery is calling. Do you have the heart to hear?", he promptly asked the viewers
First of all, Sadhguru sought to remove the wrong perception that people today have, thinking that rivers are a 'source of water'.
He said, "We need to understand this, the most fundamental thing that most people have in their perception is that most people think the river is a source of water or a well or lake is a source of water. No, rivers, lakes, ponds, and wells aren't sources of water. They're only destination for water. The only source of water we have is monsoon rain."
Sadhguru then elaborated on the lack of proper usage of rainwater, and even though the volume of rainfall has been constant, it is the changing patterns of livelihood which have led to the loss of water.
He said, "The volume of rain that is being showered upon this subcontinent in the last 100 years has not changed much. The patterns have changed but the volume has not really changed. So our ability to hold water in the land is what has been lost. This loss is mainly because of the removal of vegetation, largely tree cover. For example, in the Cauvery basin, 87 per cent of tree cover has been removed in the last 50 years. So our ability to sequester and augment the water resource into groundwater and in the rivers and in the aquifers has been lost completely."
After explaining the issue and what has to be done to overcome it, Sadhguru chose to address the glaring problem- that of the steps to overcome it. The farmer today has the power in his hands to make a difference, but the cycle of poverty and low income has led to him further digressing from the path of environment conservation.
He said, "So putting this back, how is it possible? because right now the only landowner, who has 80 per cent of the land is the farmer. So unless the farmer grows trees, it is not going to work. Why would he grow trees when he's in a depressed condition where a whole lot of them are committing suicides. So you can't tell him to save the water, save the river, save the country, save the world."
Sadhguru explained that this is very the project, 'Cauvery Calling' comes into the picture.
He explains, "Cauvery calling is an economic plan. For the last 18 years, we converted nearly 70,000 farmers into agroforestry and we have seen that within 5-7 years, their incomes go up 300 to 800 percent. I am repeating this. 3-8 times over. But we are right now in the process of converting 3000-5000 farmers per year. If we go like this, it would take 80-100 years, as I am not planning to live that long, I decided that we will crush these 100 years into 12 years and that is 'Cauvery calling', to make that that at least one-third of the land is under shade and under cultivation because if we want to enrich the soil, there are only 2 sources for us, the leaves from the tree and the animal waste. Trees are gone a long time ago and as you know animals are all migrating and being transporting to other countries. So, there is no animal waste. There is no tree leaf, there is no way to enrich the soil."
Sadhguru explains that eventually, it all comes down to the soil. Vegetation will help enrich the soil and organically enriched soil will lead to water sequestering.
He said, "We are trying to largely grow crops with salts or fertilizers and that is the biggest damage that has happened to the land. We have to put back grain cover to enrich our soil. This is about the soil if we enrich the soil if it is organically rich, then water sequestering will naturally happen and rivers will flow once again. This is not some rocket science, this is something that we always knew and lost in the last 50 years."