Shot by Ivin Anthony Content Courtesy: Humans Of Bombay

Col SG Dalvi’s Story :

One of the proud heroes of 1971 Bangladesh war, he is still serving the country in many ways. He was, single handedly, able to solve the water crisis of his society by his immense war-time survival experience. He managed to replicate this water-harvesting technique in more than 100 villages, thus, solving their water crisis in a jiffy. He has been honored with several awards but what he treasures the most is genuine appreciation from common folks of the villages.

“I was born in the city of Kolhapur where a good chunk of the male population enrolled themselves in the Indian National Army. Our seniors from college, would return to us during leave and inspire us with patriotism of serving the nation — I knew from very early on that serving the country was the only thing I was made for.

I worked hard and finally made it — it was the happiest day of my life. The men I’ve served alongside during the 1971 war in Bangladesh, were some of the finest men this country has ever seen. I still remember, all the time we’ve saved each other’s lives, been there with each other through difficult times. One morning around 2 am, when we were waiting to launch an attack, a friend of mine, was next to me while we were waiting a few meters away from enemy territory. He whispered to me, ‘my daughter’s getting married in January, I pray to God I can make it back to see her’ — but he never did. He was shot a few minutes later, and even though giving our lives for our motherland was a privilege, it was difficult to deal with the loss of our brothers…one day you’re laughing over tea and the next day, they’re no more.

But we’re trained for this — I still remember when we had to clear a particular road, before a particular time to keep our mission going — we launched an attack at 8am to make it happen. We lost a lot of our Jawaans, but the mission was successful — and that’s the only thing which mattered to us. The sound of ‘Har Har Mahadev’ as we launched those attacks, still rings in my ears sometimes. But at last, victory was ours — I’ll never until my dying day forget how their Jawaan ran into our territory with a white flag in his hand — they had surrendered, and the war was over on 16th December 1971.

“So far, I have successfully managed to transform 100 villages in MP to use water harvesting — and there lies my biggest victory.”

I finally retired as a Colonel from the Army and settled down in Pune in 2002. The transition took some time, but quickly I realized that just because I wasn’t in uniform, doesn’t mean I stop serving the country. In my society itself, I saw that most of our society money was going towards pipes and water tanks…I couldn’t understand why. Water Harvesting was done in India since 4000 BC — why couldn’t we keep that alive? I started with my society, and used all the knowledge I had from my time in Rajasthan to replicate it in Pune — and the result? Our society didn’t need any water tanker for the entire year! I knew that this is how I could continue to serve — I began to spread the word about my project and soon, I was going across villages in India to enable them to set up their own systems.

So far, I have successfully managed to transform 100 villages in MP to use water harvesting — and there lies my biggest victory. I’ve won so many awards for my work, but I can’t tell you the feeling I had when a Sarpansh of Isharpur called me this year and said, ‘after the rainy season is over, we’re always terrified about water…we save water like gold because it’s so dry until June — but this year, there’s not even one complaint about water shortage, our entire village is finally feeling prosperous.’ — it’s the best feeling in the world.”

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