Name - Ritesh Arya
Position - Doctor of Philosophy in Geology & Director
Organization - International Sustainable Energy
DOB - 20th August 1968
Place - Chandigarh
Ritesh was born in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, also popularly known as the Queen of Hills. He belonged to a simple middle-class family and had two siblings. Since his early childhood, the ideology and philosophy of his grandparents based on Vedas and Vedic science influenced the way Ritesh undertook every task. He completed his primary schooling in St Edwards School Shimla where his grandparents were staying. Later he migrated to Kasauli where his parents were working in Government Institute. His father wanted him to join Central Research Institute Kasauli but mother who was a teacher in cantonment wanted him to follow his dreams. After 10th grade he went to Chandigarh to pursue further studies in DAV College Chandigarh. He chose Medicine and wanted to become a doctor but soon realized that dissection of even earthworms and frogs was not his cup of tea. What next after 12th was now a big question Someone guided him to join University but % of marks left him with no option but to join Geology Department in Panjab University Chandigarh. It was a shear accident. He got admission and Hostel 6 was his home for the next more than half a decade.
On the first day in the Geology department in the University, he was attending the class and as destiny would have it professor was talking about Kasauli Formation. Ritesh was amazed at the fact that Kasauli, which was his native place, was an important type section and represented 20 million years of rocks in the geological history. Moreover, Medlicott in 1864 had discovered few ill preserved fossil palm leaves from Kasauli Club. Otherwise the Kasauli Formation is more or less unfossiliferous. These words started resonating in his mind. Fossils from Kasauli!!! Since then, every time he got a chance to visit home, his mother would pack food for him and he would take Browny his Labrador to the field and start looking for the Fossils. Initially it was very difficult. Because the eyes were not trained. Every rock would look like a fossil. It took him about one year of exploration to find the first fossil. But he kept on trying and never gave up. When his friends would enjoy their holidays, he would drive pleasure in hunting for fossils. By the time he completed his graduation he had the largest collection of Fossils from Kasauli and surrounding areas. Enough to get him a PhD degree and little knowing that what he had discovered would one day revolutionaries the geological history of the evolution of the Himalayas and will help in better understanding of the past climatic and paleoenvironmental conditions. His Fossil collection included diverse fossils of leaves, roots, stems, flowers, wood, mollusks, gastropods, bivalves, vertebrates represented by the mammalian tooth of Rhinoceros. Majority of these fossils were 1st reports from the Kasauli and equivalent formations in the Himalayas. He continued the joy of discovering fossils. These findings had great significance in understanding the paleoenvironment of the region in addition to understanding the evolution of flora and fauna during geological times. The fossils also helped in better understanding the timing of the evolution and upliftment of the Himalayas besides understanding the paleo-latitudinal position at the time of deposition and preservation of the fossils. The biostratigraphic correlation of the fossil leaves found in Kasauli which were identified with the scientists from Birbal Sahni Institute of paleobotany like Garcinia Gluta Combretum Syzygium etc showed close resemblance of these fossils plants with the coastal fossils taxa were confined to Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Since the extant fossils are confined to near equatorial climatic conditions and are today nowhere found in the Himalayas so he concluded that the Himalayas were not born till then. The paleo latitudinal position of Kasauli was 4-11 degree north of equator in comparison to present latitudinal position of 28-30 degrees north and height of 200-500 m above mean sea level during Kasauli times in comparison to present height of 2000 m. He realised that geology was in the field. He made good discoveries but that was just his passion but the traditional educational system would not recognize these achievements. He was losing on marks and could barely pass the exams. He found finding fossils easier than passing the exams whereas for others students finding fossils was not even imaginable. And they could just read about Medlicott discovering fossils only in the books. During his PG, he presented his research papers in the International Seminar organized by Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology Dehradun to celebrate their 25 years. He was also invited to Japan in the International Geological Correlation Program to present his major breakthrough in the studies of the evolution of the Himalayas and timing of the closure of the Tethys sea. Imagine till Kasauli times the Arabain Sea and Bay of Bengal were connected and the single massive unit was known as Tethys. Later he joined PhD and worked in detail to build a model on the evolution of the Himalayas. When he started studies Kasauli was considered to be unfossiliferous but after he completed his research it was the most fossiliferous region and today he plans to build a fossil museum near Kasauli with his own resources using 20 million Kasauli Sandstone as the building material. In spite of all his discoveries and his love for the fossils he did not have any scholarship to pursue research but he was determined. Of all the 20 students who had joined the BSc MSc course there were only 2 students from his batch who were pursuing PhD. In the meantime cleared SSB thrice but was not able to make it in the interview. But his purpose of joining the army was different as he had read that most of the Britishers had geologists in their army and they had done wonderful discoveries in exploring different terrains. But destiny had other plans and wanted to use him somewhere else. On the advice of his professor, he decided to appear for the interview and secure the job which was as a hydrogeologist on daily wages. With great grief he left his 1st love and the environment of the University. He got his 1stopening as a hydrogeologist in Himachal Government on daily wages @Rs 82.80 paisa. He was selected again not because of his academic brilliance but because there were more posts and less candidates. He was asked to report to the Office of the Executive Engineer, Irrigation & Public Health Department.
When he reported to the concerned officer, he welcomed him and immediately took Ritesh to the site where the local MLA Pradhan and other villagers were waiting. Unaware what was in store for him. They greeted Ritesh and the next question was please identify a site in a village where they could drill for Groundwater. Ritesh had no previous experience or extensive training or knowledge about it. He was seeing the water well drilling for the 1st time. Going by his books, it was almost impossible to find groundwater in the Himalayan regions. But now he could not say that he did not know. He gave it a shot and surveyed the entire area. Using all his knowledge, limited experience, and common sense, after two hours, he identified a site for drilling. The only criteria for selecting the site was that the stream was flowing downstream. And he assumed that water would come once the drilling bit would strike the stream. The drilling operation was carried out, and after six long hours, they finally found Groundwater on that site at 168 feet. The region did not have any sustainable source of water; this initial success made Ritesh a superstar in that region. After this incident, he managed to do the same for at least four nearby villages with all getting water. Things looked pretty simple and with each borewell the confidence to explore and develop groundwater increased.
Till Ritesh was assigned a new site in Bhota Hamirpur of Himachal Pradesh. Thinking that groundwater was easily available, he gave the site near the bus stop. But again destiny would have it’s own way of shaping things, he saw a fort on top of the hills. It was a Panj Singho ka kila. The fort was about 1000 meters on top of the hill. The next question which came to his mind was How did the army get drinking water in the fort on top of the hill. Because the army can live without food but not water in the time of war. Moreover the source has to be within the fort because if the army has to come down out of the fort then it would certainly be a defeat for them. With all these thoughts in mind he instructed the operators to start drilling and he started to ascend the heights to reach the forrt.. On the way he met an old man who informed him that the Fort had two wells. Even after the fort was abandoned the villagers used to get water from those wells, but it was not available now as some animals had fallen and they had abandoned those wells. On reaching the fort it was all a haunted place but walls of the fort still intact after 100s of years. After great search he found 2 wells and the boundaries of the well were easily identified. Due to capillary action the water would move up and make the area green. This was a turning point for Ritesh. He was overwhelmed to see the traditional science of exploring groundwater at heights. The ancestors were able to explore and develop groundwater at shallow depths using traditional wisdom and manual drilled the rocks to explore groundwater at the peaks at shallow depths. Whereas Ritesh and his team were struggling to find water in the plains even with modern drilling rigs. Ritesh saluted the spirit of exploring groundwater by our ancestors in the past. There was a sense of great happiness and achievement and he started his return journey. On reaching the site it was already dark. He saw the drilling was on and there was only dry cutting coming from the well. On inquiring from the operator. He was informed that 290feet drilling was done and there is no sign of water. That was a blow to the exploring method used. On one hand there was a successful shallow well at the top of the hill giving 24x7 water on the other hand we had a dry borewell 1000m below the fort drilled 300 feet and no signs of water. This gave Ritesh sleepless nights. Groundwater exploration in the Himalayas was not easy. He studied different techniques which were used to explore groundwater and concluded that remote sensing techniques and geophysical investigations as propagated by hydrogeologists in other parts of India and world were not applicable in Himalayas mainly due to lithological variations at short intervals and lack of homogeneity. Ritesh also learned how modern investigations carried out in India were considered successful even if the success ratio was 70%, which was good but not satisfactory. Because in the meantime he visited different forts in Himalayas like Malaon fort, Banasar ka kila etc and found 2 borewells in all these forts. He considered the fact that our ancestors provided 24x7 water on the peaks in the past. This clearly meant that the success rate using traditional methods of exploration was almost 100%. He studied this traditional system in detail and developed a methodology to explore and develop groundwater. He used this technique to explore the site and started digging deep and successfully rediscovered one of our conventional techniques, which ensured 100% accuracy in exploring groundwater in the Himalayas. The technique is based on identifying the proper lithology, structural features, geomorphology understanding charging and recharging of the source. Using this method, he managed to find groundwater in almost all the places in Himachal. During his tenure as a Geologist from 1993-1996 he worked across all the regions of Himachal Pradesh from intermountain valley region to high hills of Central Himalayas in Himachal and used this opportunity to provide water to the civil population using traditional technique but with 100% accuracy. He was lucky as he was transferred to new areas very frequently.
After 3 years of intensive field work and exploring and drilling 1000s of wells and getting data of more than 5000 wells. He was awarded a project by the State Council of Science and Technology to study “Conjunctive utilisation of surface and groundwater for sustainable development in the Himalayas''..In this pilot project he was given 5 villages Dharampur,Barog,Subathu,Anech Samlech in drought hit areas and was asked to augment water supply scheme based on exploring and developing groundwater. He not only explored these water supply schemes but ensured they got sustainable water sources till date. In 1996 he coined the word Hydrostratigraphic zonation and prepared a Conceptual Model to explain occurrence and movement of groundwater resources in Himalayas. He was invited to the International Geological Congress (IGC) held in Beijing, China, to present his model. He divided the entire Himalayas into 7 Hydrostratigraphic zones. 6 were in Himachal and 7th was in Ladakh. Serving in the Himachal government he never thought he would ever get a chance to visit his 7th zone. But again destiny had other plans. After returning from the conference, he was not issued Musterole by the Senior Hydrogeologist and he was without a job. But now the mechanism to understand the occurrence and movement of groundwater had been established.Mountains were now not devoid of groundwater but were full of groundwater which could be tapped to quench the thirst. . Destiny always showed him the way. He shifted his focus from groundwater and thought of completing his PhD. He worked hard and when he was working on his thesis he got a call from Water Aid an NGO based in England which funded water projects throughout the world for communities that could not get water to explore groundwater for the 3800 Tibetans settled in Ladakh following Chinese aggression in 1959. The move was coordinated by the office of Central Tibetan Administration of his Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. He was very happy to receive the call and was excited. God had given him the opportunity to complete the model and work on the 7th hydrostratigraphic zone in Ladakh, Himalayas. He completed his thesis and at the same time gave a proposal to explore groundwater to the Tibetans in Leh. WaterAid responded and they were ready to pay 25000/- for the job plus airfare and lodging. By government standards this meant salary for the entire year. Ritesh was delighted he submitted his thesis and was ready to take up another assignment. There also exists a Vaayu Mitra Community which is an informal concentration of the like-minded people driven by the passion of love for nature. Members from different walks of life can participate and bring innovative changes towards contributing towards a greener earth.
He was looking for this moment to complete exploration and development in the7th zone in the higher Himalayas. He was not able to digest the earlier reports that higher Himalayas had no groundwater and lifting water from River Indus was the only solution for the Tibetans. Ritesh got his PhD degree and was also asked by a Senior Hydrogeologist to resume his duty. Ritesh was now Dr.Ritesh. He visualised that there was glacier in the peaks of Khardungla and Stock in Leh and River Indus was flowing in the vicinity. So there should be no problem in getting groundwater in the glaciated valley sandwiched between the two perennial sources of water though in two different forms. He went to Leh and when he visited the camps he was moved to see the plight of the Tibetans who were basically nomads but had adopted to work as poters in defence forces to meet their ends once they migrated to India. In absence of sustained water supply they depended on water tankers for getting water which were very erratic in their timing and supply quality was not very good. The women, children and old people were the main sufferers. Ritesh was moved by their plight and after detailed investigations selected a few sites which were very good for tapping groundwater based on his hydrostratigraphic classification. He submitted the report everyone was happy because all the prior proposals had proposed to lift water from the river Indus which was not only economically unsustainable but was practically not feasible due to extreme climatic conditions. But later they questioned what was the guarantee of getting water because all the earlier reports by PHED and other agencies had confirmed non availability of groundwater at Agling and proposed tapping of water from Indus river. All the pleasure was dwindling how could he convince them without drilling. But their concern was also very genuine what if Ritesh failed to give water.
Ritesh was a hydrogeologist working on 82.80 per day but he took up the challenge. He started his company - Arya Drillers and decided to work on No Water No money basis. Again everyone was happy. Convincing his parents to set aside a government job and start a company without adequate funds was one of the major difficulties he faced. Arranging funds was difficult; he got his 1st rig 2nd hand from Tiruchengode. Later he got loans from ICICI bank to purchase the new rig. Moving the drilling rig to Ladakh was the most difficult task because all the bridges were meant to sustain 9 tons of weight but the rigs were very heavy. Modifications were made and transportation was done from Srinagar - Kargil side. Crossing Zozilla was a challenge in those days because of glaciers melting causing landslides. If that was not enough the stretch Drass between Tiger Hill and Tololing was very difficult because of shelling by Pakistani who had occupied the peaks. Enroute they saw many vehicles damaged by the shelling but that did not defer Ritesh's determination. He was asked by the army to cross the stretch in early hours without lighting the lights of the vehicle. It was a difficult journey but was very interesting and challenging. Crossing Zohzila was a great challenge. Finally after a great eventful voyage the rigs landed in Agling Ladakh. Ritesh remembers that they were offered Chang and liquor when they asked for water. Because water was more precious to them.. He started the 1st borewell project in 1997 at Agling Group No 6 in Leh Ladakh. Angchuk was the group leader and since then they became very good friends which still continues today. In 1999, he successfully provided 24x7 water for all the 3800 civilians settled in different camps in Aging, Choglamsar, Spituk, Nyoma, Sumdo and Hanley along the Indo- Tibetan(Now Chinese) Borders using his traditional rediscovered methods of exploration coupled with the most modern techniques of drilling. Seeing this initial success Thupstan Tsewang former CEC and MP invited Dr Ritesh Arya to repeat the same for the civil population in Ladakh which he readily agreed and successfully provided potable water in every remote village he was asked for.
His success story reached AOC Ahluwalia of Indian AirForce in Leh. He requested Ritesh to explore groundwater in the Leh AirField for the Indian Air Force. These borewells were the lifeline of the air base especially in winters. So important were these resources for the air force that Air Marshal Patni flew from Delhi to inaugurate them.This was his 1st contribution for Indian Airforce and his firm was enlisted in Military Engineering Service. After this success he was roped by the Indian Army and was assigned a new project for groundwater exploration in the Partapur sector. Providing water to the troops at Siachen Base, the highest battlefield in the world especially in winters when water freezes to minus 40 degrees temperature was his most important and memorable assignment. Prior to his work the army was melting ice to quench their thirst. He not only explored the site but was instrumental in developing the groundwater in winters. More than 20 years have passed and his borewells are still operational even today.This was his great achievement of his career. Since then the soldiers never melted ice in base camp to quench their thirst. After the Kargil war he worked extensively in collaboration with various Govt. agencies and Indian Army under Sadhawana Project to successfully find groundwater and develop it for the border villages of Turtuk, Bhogdong, Tyagshi, Tsaga etc. Little did he know that he would be asked to develop groundwater at Kargil, Drass and Khumbathang. The beneficiaries of this exploration were our defense forces and the civil population living on border villages. Not only could the defense units manage to have water for drinking and domestic purposes, but he worked with Field Research Laboratory now DIHAR, a wing of DRDO, in setting up an entire irrigation facility based on groundwater in Leh and Partapur. Thereby increasing the agricultural production in that region to more than 50%. He managed to do the same thing in Pangong, Chushul, Kargil, Leh, Chumur, Demchuk Sector, where soldiers literally melted the ice with stoves for procuring drinking water in winters. In developing these wells he was able to get artesian conditions and his name figured in Guinness world records and Limca book of records.. Ritesh not only managed to find groundwater in the cold mountain deserts of Ladakh and prove that the conceptual model he proposed in 1996 was very much practical and can be duplicated to develop groundwater and provide water in almost all the terrains of Himalayas using simple traditional techniques based on simple geological and geomorphological methods. Even after 25 years today, the wells explored and drilled by him are fully functional. He presented these findings in World Water Week Stockholm Sweden.
Ritesh had now become a well-known name given his contribution to exploring groundwater at some of the most crucial and significant places which were earlier considered to be devoid of groundwater resources. By this time, the world media had started reporting about man made global warming. He came across several articles and columns, which claimed that global warming occurred only due to the activities of humankind. Ritesh had been working in the Himalayan region for several years, and such statements seemed unrealistic for him, as a geologist. Ritesh had vast experience working in different regions of the Himalayan region. In addition to that, he had generated a lot of data. Now he had started evaluating all that data to find how human beings were responsible for the global warming phenomenon. Ritesh had noticed that all the glaciers in various regions of the Himalayas were already extinct or on the verge of extinction. He had documented that Khardungla glacier which is a line of water to Leh town is cleared to keep the Highest motorable road in the world operational for traffic to Nubra and Partapur in winters . This kind of phenomenon had been happening to keep the traffic moving. But by doing so we were losing precious ice cover which was essential to provide water to agricultural fields and recharge the springs and groundwater resources to meet the ever increasing demand of the population of Ladakh. He felt the need to preserve these glaciers on the peaks to provide water to the Leh town and proposed to construct tunnels across Khardungla and Changla and other passes to protect the glaciers and prolong its melting so that these natural freshwater resources which are lifeline of fresh water resource could be preserved. He had noticed that the glaciers in Khardungla had receded almost 23 kms since the last glaciation and the Siachen in Karakoram range was no exception. Siachen had receded approx 74 kms since 11700 years from present. These glaciers had receded much before industrialization or the impact of man and at that time the rates of melting and receding were quite high. Conceptually he knew that Man had nothing to do with Global warming except enjoying it. Ritesh was aware that definite evidence was required to support his findings. He started documenting everything. His team found prominent evidence of Global Warming and Global Cooling occurring alternatively in climate history in a cyclic manner. . This entire finding has been documented as Arya’s C Cycle. This cycle is a result of the precise calculation of mathematical and geological data which he found while drilling for water wells and observing geomorphological findings and this paper was published in the International Conference on Climate Change in the Himalayas. In this paper he was able to show that unlike the Hockey Stick curve proposed by NIPCC the climate cycle follows a curvilinear pattern which resembles the alphabet C. Where the ends represent the ice age which gradually enters warming in a curvilinear pattern. The central portion represents the global warming maxima times which again culminates into ice age following the curvilinear pattern. Man was responsible for pollution which can be improved by using non polluting technology but global warming and cooling are natural cyclic processes independent of the activity of the man. That was the end of the hockey stick curve proposed by the UNIPCC.
While working in remote regions of Changthang Ritesh noticed that in spite of the fact that hot water resources in Ladakh like any mountain region are not fully developed. They are only used for hot water bathing and there too the infrastructure is not good. He prepared a blueprint to develop geothermal resources in the Himalayas. His project was funded by Norway Research Council and he presented his concept of Agneyodgara in World Futrue Energy Summit Abu Dhabi. The concept of heating and providing energy to remote areas using Geothermal energy was adjudged the best innovations in the summit by Guardian. He has provided practical feasible solutions of Ground Water for industrial use, hotels, domestic purpose, defence sector, etc. The most peculiar quality of Ritesh’s organization is that they charge from their clients only if they are successful in exploring water. With the 'No Water, No Money' policy, his company not only attained professional and ethical heights but earned undiminished respect. Arya Drillers have explored groundwater at thousands of sites on the Himalayas, and all of them are functioning perfectly even today. Ritesh Arya holds a Guinness World Record for a natural groundwater borehole, drilled at an altitude of 3,350 m above the sea level, in Leh, India. He also holds a Limca Book of Records for exploring water at over 14000 feet, the highest artesian condition in the world. He is the recipient of Himachal Gaurav Puruskar, awarded by CM of Himachal Pradesh. In addition to being the CEO of Arya Drillers and Agneyodgara, he was the Director of Water & Geothermal Section, at the International Sustainable Energy Organization, Geneva and played an important role in promoting the advanced form of geothermal energy Agneyodgara - Lava Energy. He was also Member Water Management Board Government of Himachal Pradesh and Working Member of National Institute of Hydrology Government of India Roorkee. He was associated with Gustav R Grob in organising the International Sustainable Renewable Conference marking 25 Years of ISEO in UN city of Geneva Presently he is part of organising committee for the 9th World Water Forum Senegal to In 2020 he was called by the Indian Army to explore groundwater in the Eastern Ladakh for the troops stationed on indo-Tibetan(Now China Border) and is playing a crucial role as Action Group Member of the 9th World Water Forum Senegal in 2021. His discoveries featured in the Science TV serial played by National Doordarshan. Ritesh is looking forward to working extensively with and for the defense forces to establish sustainable water and energy resources in the border areas. He is also making dynamic efforts with concrete evidence to promote his theory of global warming and global cooling. Ultimately, his aim is to get free water and free energy for the entire world. He is also open to guide and advise anyone on his techniques and theories. Presently, he is setting up a Museum in his home state to showcase the entire collection of his Fossils and make geology simple and accessible to children and common man. Recently he was in news for making the 1st low cost geological laboratory in Ladakh featuring the local rocks and geological features in the local school. He believes Geological Resources and geologists are the backbone for developing the economy of any nation. Our country is rich in geological resources but these resources are poorly managed and till date are not properly explored. We were SONAY KI CHIDIYA or GOLDEN SPARROW because our ancestors in the past had not only discovered gold but also processed and developed it. Only those nations progress and prosper which have good geologists to explore and find valuable geological resources. India Today rightly called him “The incredible water man”
Follow your passion and instinct about what you want to do with your life. The real meaning of success is being happy and pursuing what you love. Monetary success should be the byproduct of your good work. If you achieve it, then it is great. But even if you don’t, you will be happy throughout your life. Once you are true to yourself, only then you will be successful. India has a wide and rich heritage that has so much to inherit from its ancestors. Value, learn, research, and adapt to what our ancestors have left behind for us. Blending modern concepts with traditional techniques is the key to revive and excel in today's world. Be ARYA - Sanskrit word meaning BEST or noble . So do BEST in whatever you want to do and compete with yourself to achieve the best in the world. Making this place the Best or Noblest to live in.
“Be inspired by yourself, Because you are ONE second to none”
“Be inspired by yourself, Because you are ONE second to none”