In 1977, when Laporiya village was experiencing its worst drought, leaving its farmers unemployed, 17-year-old Laxman Singh came up with the idea of reviving ponds.

He was mocked by his fellow villagers who advised him to help his farmer father instead of wasting his time on the ‘frivolous idea’.

Today, when water bodies in the neighbouring villages dry up, Laporiya faces no such issue. The village is probably the only one in Rajasthan that is self-sufficient in water.

Earlier, Laxman had to drop out of school due to water scarcity. Looking for a solution, he identified a bund (a small stone dam) that was dry for 30 years and decided to repair it.

Two months later, the bund was filled with rainwater. And within 8 years, it was providing water to 1,800 acres of farmland.

Encouraged by its success, the ‘accidental water expert’ decided to work towards reviving several ponds and lakes in Laporiya.

He also invented a water-saving method chauka to conserve rainwater and recharge the groundwater levels. This helped nearly 58 villages become self-sufficient in water.

To construct chauka, 9-inch-deep channels are constructed in a series of square pits and are bordered with 2-feet high bunds.

The chauka collects the rainwater, and once they are full, the water flows into an adjacent chauka, thus avoiding an overflow.

After the final chauka is filled, the excess water is diverted to the nearby ponds.

“When we started, the water level had sunk to 500 feet. Today, the levels are stable at 15–40 feet,” Singh claims.

The chaukas and ponds provide sufficient water in the village and the farmers now harvest crops twice a year. Recently, he was awarded the Padma Shri for his life-saving innovation.