his is where we used toget our water from,” saidSitamma , pointing to a well. Branches anddebris float on the surface of themuddy brown water, in a village inthe Rayalaseema region — thehottest belt in Andhra Pradesh.Two decades ago, more than 50percent of the remote villages in thedrought-prone districts of AndhraPradesh had only wells as the mainsource of drinking water. They notonly lacked clean drinking water, but also suffered from bone anddental deformities due to excessfluoride content in groundwater.In the tribal hamlets of East and West Godavari districts of AndhraPradesh, though the river Godavari was flowing just 15 km away fromsome settlements, drinking water was scarce. The story in the 320 villages of Medak andMehboobnagar was no different.The crisis was not restricted to AP’s hinterland alone.Neighbouring Tamil Nadu wasunable to meet its capital Chennai’sdemands for clean and safedrinking water.The issues that deprivedthousands of this life-sustainingnecessity for so many years may have been numerous. Yet, true tothe identity of India’s unity, 10million Indians in Rayalaseemaregion and districts of Medak,Mehaboobnagar, East and WestGodavari and the city of Chennaihave a common factor unitingthem now — the Sri Sathya SaiDrinking Water Project pipelineshave become their lifelines.The seeds for the water project were sown in 1994 when BhagavanSri Sathya Sai Baba referred to thedrinking water problem inRayalaseema region in a discourseon November 22, 1994. At Hiscommand, the Sri Sathya SaiCentral Trust executed the projectto provide drinking water to 731 villages in Anantapur district. The9th Planning Commissiondescribed the project thus: “TheSathya Sai charity has set anunparalleled initiative of implementing on their own, without any state budgetary support, a massive water supply project with an expenditure of Rs3,000 million to benefit 731scarcity and fluoride/salinity affected villages and a few towns in Anantapur district in 18 months”.For Bhagavan Baba, themotivation was simple. "From My earliest years, I have been
Copious flow of selfless love
concerned about providing threeprimary requisites for our people -free education, free medical aid,and free basic amenities likedrinking water. Education is forthe head; medical care is for theheart; and pure water is for the body. These three cover the mainrequirements of life. To providethese three gives one the greatestgratification," He said.Following the Anantapurproject, came the Godavari andMedak-Mehboobnagar projects.Next, the Sri Sathya Sai CentralTrust extended its drinking waterservices to Chennai. This involvedthe lining and renovation of theKandaleru-Poondi canal andincreasing the capacity of theKandaleru reservoir. With its four major waterprojects, the Sri Sathya Sai CentralTrust has laid a total of 5,020 km of pipelines, or one-and-a-half timesthe distance from Kashmir toKanyakumari, which is a mere3,496 km by comparison! It hasalso constructed enormous tanks,installed water treatment plantsand placed large concrete watercisterns with taps at differentplaces in the villages close to thehouses.Completed between 1994 and2006, the four projects provideclean drinking water to over 10million people, or the equivalent of the entire population of Jammuand Kashmir.Explaining the efficientexecution of the projects that usedIndian technology, All IndiaPresident of the Sri Sathya Sai SevaOrganisation, Mr V Srinivasansaid, "The projects were executedentirely by the SSS Central Trustand after completion, weremaintained for about two years.Thereafter, they were handed overto the government free of cost…The improvement in the quality of life of the beneficiaries isunmistakable. The villagers nolonger have to walk long distancesto collect drinking water. Theirhealth and incomes haveimproved.” After completing the projects,the Sai Organisation furtherlaunched village improvementprojects in all the villagesconcerned by organising medicaland veterinary camps, vocationaltraining and Bal Vikas classesregularly.Given the all-round benefits tosuch a large segment of thepopulation, the projects havereceived worldwide acclaim asmodels for the future and have been presented in World WaterForums.The Sai Drinking WaterProjects have demonstrated thataccess to clean water is not aluxury, nor an act of charity, but anobligation of the global community to ensure that no Sitammaanywhere in the world is deniedthis right.
Rayalaseema should beensured water supply allthrough the year. Today it isRaallaseema (a rocky region).It must be transformed into aRatnalaseema (land thatglitters as a diamond).
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba,
announcing the Anantapur water project,November 22, 1994
Bhagavan Baba’s promise toChennai residents,
Today, I have made a newresolve. Madras is sufferingfrom acute shortage of drinkingwater. The rich can buy watersold by tanker service, but whatare the poor to do? I have there-fore decided to work towardsbringing drinking water toMadras, no matter how difficultand costly the task is.
January 19, 2002
We are executing a waterproject for the East and WestGodavari districts. It is possibleto live without food but notwithout water. Water is highlyessential. These people live bythe side of Godavari but do nothave potable water.
announcing the Godavari water project,December 26, 2004
(Top) The Sri Sathya Sai Drinking Water Project in Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh, and glimpses of other water projectsSHOWERS OF LOVE
Dr APJ Kalam,
Former President of India, Eminent Scientist
An antiballistic missile has beenlaunched by Bhagavan Baba againstpoverty. How does this missile workagainst poverty? Through water,education and healthcare.
Water relief all the way
Benefitted: about 500 villagesLength of pipeline: 1,175 kmInitiated: December 2004Completed: May 2006
ANANTAPUR DRINKINGWATER PROJECT
Number of villages benefitted: 731Length of pipeline: 2,500 kmInitiated: November 1994Inaugurated: November 1995
Benefitted: City of Chennai Total length of canalrenovated: 175 kmInitiated: April 2002Completed: November 2004
MEDAK ANDMEHABOOBNAGAR DISTRICTS
Number of villages benefitted: 320Length of pipeline: 1,170 kmInitiated: March 1999Completed: November 2000
EAST AND WEST GODAVARIDISTRICTS
Sathya Sai healthcare:
Healing with love and compassion
He was barely in His twenties, whenMother Eswaramma expressed herconcern about the plight of the local villagers. They were poor andsuccumbed easily to diseases in theremote and neglected village, Puttaparthi.For someone whose life is rooted in theaffirmation, ‘Help Ever, Hurt Never’, Baba couldnot resist His mother’s call for altruism.Immediately, He set up the Sri Sathya SaiGeneral Hospital, inaugurating it in 1954. Thus began the story of the Sri Sathya Sai Healthcaresystem, which has now expanded into a network of general hospitals, super-specialty hospitals,mobile medical hospitals, medical camps, virtualhospitals and charitable beds in city hospitals, allat no-cost to the patients. Every single patientirrespective of religious, economic or social background receives state-of-the-art medicalcare, with a difference!Unconditional love is the sole currency tradedhere. The absolutely free treatment includes —consultation, scans, X-rays, treatment andmedication. Freedom from the burden of payment is a boon to many, while the mortality rate at Sai hospitals is among the lowest in the world. With several general hospitals and regularmedical camps already running full swing, it wason His 65th birthday, on 23rd November, 1990,that Bhagavan Baba, declared that a tertiary carefacility, offering free state-of-the-art healthcare would be set-up within a year, in Puttaparthi.True to His word, the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, also known as the SSSSuper Specialty Hospital was inaugurated on22nd November, 1991.Ten years after its success, its sister facility at Whitefield, Bangalore, opened in January 2001,emphasising the message of love and selflessservice as necessary potions for a true healthcarereform.Taking a cue from Baba’s magnanimity, privatemedical facilities in Chennai have been inspiredto do their bit. Today, the city runs a virtualnetwork of hospital services under the SriSathya Sai Health Care Project (SSSHCP) sinceJanuary 2007. Initially, sixty-three localmedical institutions, offered a free bed,treatment and medication to the needy patients brought in by the Sai Organisation.The goodwill generated has evoked furtherphilanthropy and the number of beds at thedisposal of the SSSHCP has now crossed 90and the programme’s popularity continues togrow among private hospitals. This uniqueinitiative involves no additional cost of construction, and is being expanded to otherparts of the state beyond Chennai.In addition, the two well-equipped and well-staffed general hospitals in Puttaparthi and Whitefield continue to serve thousands daily,as do the mobile medical hospital vans, theregular medical and veterinarian campsorganised by the Sai Organisation under itsSSS Village Integrated Program across ruralIndia and worldwide.
MEDICAL MARVEL The Sri Sathya SaiInstitute of Higher Medical Sciences at Whitefield, Bangalore The foyer of theWhitefield hospital. All Sathya Saihospitals are knownfor their pleasant environment andhigh levels of hygiene