Who owns the river?

Who owns the river? for the first time in many years, the village of Lava-ka-Baas in Alwar district, Rajasthan, got water just a month ago. With the first showers of monsoon, its 500-odd residents saw the traditional water harvesting structure that they had built in their village fill up with water. And joyfully they started to prepare for cultivation in this drought-prone district.

But their dreams soon turned into a nightmare when the state irrigation department slapped a notice threatening to demolish the structure. So when Mani Devi, a resident of the village and a member of the panchayat , saw the irrigation department officials landing up with their earthmovers to demolish the structure on July 1, she, like other residents, decided to fight. "They can kill us, but they cannot demolish the johad (earthern check dam),' Devi says. The structure was built at a cost of Rs 8 lakh

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