Mumbai, April 27: After Nana Patekar's and Makrand Anaspure's life-saving venture of saving the drought-hit farmers in Marathwada through the NAAM foundation, Ritesh Deshmukh too has extended a helping hand to the parched land.
After being chosen as the brand ambassador by the Art of Living Foundation, Ritesh has promised to whatever he can do in implementing water conservation projects and raise funds for the drought-affected areas.
The Art of Living Foundation has taken up responsibility to enhance the storing capacity of the Manjara river, which is the lifeline of Latur, but has gone completely dry.
Ritesh said, "Yes, I have been picked as the brand ambassador for the Jalyukt Latur campaign and will put in my best to ensure its success."
He also said that he would not only limit himself to Latu, but also help the entire region. "If there are any water conservation projects that would benefit the people, I will extend my best help,"he said.
Ritesh donated Rs 25 lakh for the "Jalyukt Latur" campaign, while his brother, Amit Deshmukh, an MLA from the region, donated Rs 75 lakh. Meanwhile Mahadev Gomare of the Art of Living Foundation confirmed about the project and said, "The project is worth Rs 7 crore. We are not taking any help from the government. It is entirely a citizen's initiative. Citizens, activists, educationists, lawyers, doctors, students, teachers all have joined hands to implement the project."
So far Rs 4 crore has been collected and the rest of it is likely to be collected from Ritesh's contacts. "The Deshmukh family residence is outside the city limit. Therefore, they will not benefit by the water conservation project being implemented by us. But they are generous enough to contribute a large sum, especially Ritesh Deshmukh...," said Gomare.
When the announcement was made, Ritesh visited the spot himself and monitored the work in progress. An 18-kilometer stretch is being dug in the Manjara river from Sai village to store water during the monsoon. Approximately, 3-kilometer stretch has already been dug. The work is expected to be finished by May end.