19 May, 2019
There is a lot of awareness about saving the environment nowadays as compared to earlier. All of us realize that we have specific precious natural resources with us and that we are responsible for leaving these behind for your future generations. Many schools and colleges also run campaigns to this effect, and it is not unusual to find people talking about saving water. Especially that we are in peak summer now, the need for water and its conservation is a big point of discussion, considering that many cities are facing water shortage.
Saving water though, many a time becomes only a slogan, and we may not really realize how we waste water at home. The truth about water is that every drop counts and each drop saved is a significant achievement. But then, all of us have those leaking pipes in our homes, which we don’t find time to repair!
This is where our inspirational Water Conservation man Aabid Surti comes in. Currently aged 84 years, Aabid took on the mantle of each one doing his bit to save water and is still going strong. Let’s hear Aabid’s story to understand why he has become a symbol of water conservation.
Aabid Surti is a painter, author, cartoonist, journalist, environmentalist, playwright, and screenwriter from the state of Gujarat. One of his books was given a National Award by the government of India in 1993 as well. He has also been awarded the Hindi Sahitya Sanstha Award, as well as the Gujarat Gaurav title.
Though born in Gujarat, their family shifted to Mumbai, and Aabid grew up there and completed his Diploma in Arts from J J School of Art. He is an accomplished painter with 16 exhibitions being held in India and abroad. He also started writing short stories, novels, plays, children's books, and travelogues.
It was in 2007 in Mumbai that Aabid started Drop Dead- a water conservation initiative. He noticed a leaking tap in his friend’s house and the idea struck him to repair the leaking valves. Every Sunday, he started visiting homes along with a plumber to get the leaking taps repaired, in the Mira Road area. The cause of most leaks is easily fixable, and Aabid gets the old O-ring, rubber gaskets replaced with new ones, to plug the leaks. He does this by meeting the expenses out of his own pocket. Why you may want to ask; “A tap that drips water once every second waste about 1,000 liters of water every month so imagine how much we all waste”.
His perspective on water conservation and the idea of doing something about it, without waiting for someone else to do something has saved millions of gallons of water till date. This awareness may also be because he grew up in a chawl, where his mother had to stand in queue and fight even to get a bucket of water. This childhood memory came back to haunt him whenever he saw a leaking pipe or burst pipeline, as he realized the futility of the precious water going waste.
Aabid’s efforts have won him many fans, and more importantly, save precious water. None of us can live without water, and we all know that water is the elixir of life. But how many of us take any initiative like Aabid did to do something about it. Age is not an issue for Aabid, who continues his plumbing service, by knocking on doors on Sundays, to ask if they have a leaking tap and would like a repair.
The sheer magnitude of his simple effort will hit home when you realize that even in the first year of Drop Dead, he had visited 1666 houses on Mira Road, and fixed 414 leaking taps, that too, free of charge, and saved about 4.14 lakh liters of water. Now, imagine, if only all of us had an Aabid in our areas, how much water we can save and what a lot of good that would do for our environment. It is up to us how we decide to take on the simple issues around us and try to make an impact. After all, Gandhiji said, “Be the change you want to see.”
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