New Delhi [India], October 12 (ANI): Serving potable water to the thirsty is mission for this septuagenarian in Delhi. Alag Natarajan serves water to the thirsty by filling up earthen pots in parts of south Delhi and has become famous as 'Matka Man'.
Natarajan said he started with putting up 'matkas' (earthern pots) outside his house. "I am Aquarius which is a water sign. So, when I was growing up, I used to see poor men coming to the gate and ask for water. The cause is poverty. Why does the poor man have to pay Re 1 for a glass of water or Rs 10 for a small water bottle? The affluent and the privileged, have so much water. In a small way, I can provide some people with water to drink from an earthen pot," he said.
"It started gradually. One day a man came to me and said 'Natarajan you're doing a great job'. I said it's not great. I have lots of difficulties. He asked what difficulties. I said I don't have water. He said come to my house and take water. I went with a plumber because you've to make your arrangements to fill the tank. He helped me by saying I can take water anytime. So, from there I started expanding. There is a school behind which also started giving me water," he added. The 72-year old samartian also said that water is wasted while watering plants and it should be used judiciously.
He said in the early days, everyone thought he was with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
"They used to talk between themselves and say that I am from AAP because the party had laid thrust on water and electricity. They thought this is their way of doing it. My main thing was my van because I am an engineer. I knew that my van will be my advertising machine. I made it into a nice engineering piece and it came to notice. Slowly, people came forward and started giving donations," Natarajan said.
"The matkas are kept in south Delhi. I go out to IIT, Green Park, SDA Market," he addedNatarajan said he starts around 5,30 am and does "one shift".
"Then my assistant comes at 9 am and then he does the shift. We both go to the other locations. In the summer, we may have to refill the matkas twice also. Just one filling is not enough."He also narrated how with his persistence with people, he started getting water from Delhi Jal Board.
"I persisted. If you are walking on the street and came to me and say you're doing a great job. My next question would be, do you know anyone from the Jal board. I used ask people if they know anyone in Jal board. Out of 10 people, one person will come and support you."He said the credit for terming him 'Matka Man' goes to his daughter.
"She gave me the title. I feel it is easier for people to call Matka Man and also it is respectable. Matka Man is a compliment," he said.
Asked if he faced problems in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, Natarajan said he never stopped.
"I am 72 years old. Some so many people are making sacrifices," he said and referred to the hard work done by rickshaw pullers and guards.
"A lot more water was used during COVID times. They couldn't get water where they were. Because of COVID, they were not allowed to go out to a tap because it was not allowed. People were also frightened to go to the tap because they felt it could be contagious," he said.
Natarajan said he also started giving food to people before COVID-19 struck.
"I have an omelette stand outside my house. I used to make omelettes early in the morning. To women and children, I used to give it for free and the rest I used to give at Rs 20 at a very subsidised price. After that, we started giving salads. Somewhere along the line, we realised bean salad is a healthy salad. So, then we started expanding," he said. (ANI)