The Mahanadi River basin is the most important peninsular river of India originates from the Amarkantak hills of the Bastar Plateau near Harasiya village in Raipur district of Chhatisgarh. The river traverses a total distance of 851 kilometer (in Odisha - 494 kilometer) and falls into the Bay of Bengal. It has been the source of livelihood for innumerable nature-based communities for ages. Community members are resisting privatization of the rivers and defending their rights to protect the rivers and natural resources.
Popularly known as 'The Waterman of Odisha,' Ranjan Panda started his efforts to conserve water at a time when it was a non-issue for the state. Disturbed by the fact that the western districts of Odisha, which were once agriculturally prosperous had turned parched and came to be known as one of the chronically prone regions of Odisha, in the last one hundred years. Ranjan decided to study the traditional water harvesting systems and structures, and formed a voluntary organization to revive water bodies and bring back rural farm economies to prosperity.