Sekar Raghavan, also known as the Rain Man, lived in Besant Nagar, Tamil Nadu for 40 years. For all those years the scientist lived there, tap water had always been sweet. But one morning 22 years back, while brushing his teeth, he realised that it had turned salty.
Concerned about the quality of the water, he did a little research and found that with all the new buildings coming up in the city, there was no space for the rain water to seep into the ground. Sekar was surprised to know that sea water was taking its place.
As part of his work, he had read survey records of nearly 2,000 villages in Tamil Nadu and noticed one common pattern. The villages saved water in any way they could, be it ponds or paddy fields. Why wasn't the same happening in cities? Were the residents not aware of what they were doing, rather not doing? According to The Hindu, he said,
I must have good, clean water for the rest of my life.
So, for the next three years, he kept knocking at the doors of apartments to make people understand the importance of rainwater harvesting. But in the three years that followed, watchmen would often take him to be a salesman and chase him away.
This changed when he got a chance to speak to a local newspaper about the importance of rainwater harvesting (RWH) and to the principal of a school in the area. Both understood the significance of what Sekar was trying to do and decided to help him. He soon started receiving invites from households from concerned citizens who wanted to learn how to save water.
In 2001, J. Jayalalitha became the Chief Minister with the promise of RWH. Sekar played a significant role in the process which has successfully covered 90 percent of Chennai. In 2002, he established the Rain Centre in Chennai which aims to help the common public in learning the best ways of rainwater harvesting. It was inaugurated by the Chief Minister and he won the Ashoka award in the year 2003 for his contribution.
Understanding Sekar's remarkable contribution in Tamil Nadu which pioneered RWH, Delhi government made him a part of building the RWH policy in Delhi according to Deccan Chronicle.
As Tamil Nadu was much ahead in saving rain water a few years back, the other states can learn a lot from it. At the same time, one cannot help but wonder how it is facing the worst water shortage crisis today. But then, there were many other things that also that contributed to this crisis.