Uma Shankar Pandey – Water warrior from UP who won Padma Shri in 2023

Uma Shankar Pandey is a social worker for Uttar Pradesh, best known for his contributions towards ground water conservation in Jakhni. Fondly called ‘Pani ke Pehredar’ in villages of UP, his model of water harvesting has been widely appreciated. For his contributions towards water harvesting and conservation, he has been honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri awards in 2023. He is a disabled person, aged 60 when the award was announced. He didn’t even apply for the award, and happy to receive it.

Uma Shankar Pandey – Social worker from Bundelkhand

Uma Shankar Pandey hails from Jakhni, Bundelkhand of Uttar Pradesh, and the natives are quite familiar with his efforts the past 30 years. He is a popular name in villages, also called ‘Pani ke Pehredar’ which literally means ‘Guard of water’. His innovative experiment of water harvesting earned him recognition within the country and abroad. Though he is a disabled person, it never became a hindrance, when it comes to social work and his public participation helped a lot in conserving water in more than 470 gram panchayats.

Since childhood he was aware of water scarcity problems of Bundelkhand. He started creating awareness among people about water conservation. He even gave traditional technique methods of storing rain water on the farm. He is widely known through Jakhni Jal Gram Project. There was a time when water reached villages in big vehicles. After implementing the project, many trucks came to transport cultivated products to other parts of the country. Many times, government has bought cereals and millets in tonnes, cultivated in these rain scarce regions. Thanks to Jakhni Jal Gram Project.

His slogan ‘Khet kar med aur med pe ped’ was welcomed by villages

Khet kar med aur med pe ped’ was his slogan, which slowly earned appreciation in nearby villages too. He worked all alone without getting any help from government and changes were visible in nearby villages too. His water model was implemented in more than 470 gram panchayats of Bundelkhand, and still expanding. He is still working in Bundelkhand region to turn water-scarce villages into water abundant villages.

He received appreciation from PM, who wrote a letter to the heads of the country regarding his water model. PM Narendra Modi discussed the concept ‘Khet kar med aur med pe ped’ in many forums, as a part of Mann Ki Baat campaign. He received numerous honours with 4th highest civilian honour Padma Shri being the latest one. NITI Aayog has also nominated him as a member of the Water Conservation Committee. He was awarded with ‘Water Warrior’ award in the second National Water Awards by ministry of Jal Shakti, government of India.


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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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