Aabid Surti, a 90-year-old man saves 30 million litres of water by fixing leaky taps (VIDEO)

Aabid Surti, a 90-year-old man saves 30 million litres of water by fixing leaky taps (VIDEO)

Pooja PatelUpdated: Monday, June 03, 2024, 09:35 PM IST
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Aabid Surti, founder, Drop Dead Foundation |

"Excuse me, may we please check the taps in your home for leakages and fix any leaky ones for free?" 

Charru Sharma, filmmaker, founder of Yatha Katha Pvt Ltd

Charru Sharma, filmmaker, founder of Yatha Katha Pvt Ltd |

Imagine a lazy Sunday interrupted thus by a grinning 90-year-old stranger who has arrived, uninvited, with a plumber. That's what Aabid Surti, founder of Drop Dead Foundation, has been doing for the last 17 years. 

Founded in 2007, Surti’s one-man NGO prevents wastage of water caused by tens of thousands of leaky taps. 

Every Sunday, for two hours, Surti, along with a plumber, goes from door to door in the Mira Road neighbourhood.If a plumber is not available, he fixes leaky faucets himself. 

This simple but effective idea was born when Surti had an epiphany of sorts at a friend’s place. “I was at a friend’s home and I could hear the sound of water dripping to the floor of his bathroom,” says the nonagenarian. The friend said he’d get the tap fixed, but when Surti visited him again months later, much to his disdain, he found the tap still leaking.

“I was irked to a level that I felt compelled to do something about this,” says Surti, who grew up on a pavement and understood the value of water more than most people. As he berated his friend for not fixing the tap, his friend posed two questions Surti did not have answers to — how much water actually gets wasted due to faulty taps; and how do you get a plumber to visit for a single minor job?

They were valid questions. “Serendipitously, I came across an article that said if one drop of water is wasted every second, then in a day, thousands of drops of water are wasted.” That prompted him to do something and  he started his NGO, in 2007, at age of 72. 

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons | Wikimedia Commons

Since then, single-handedly, Surti has managed to save around 30 million litres of water from being wasted. 

Surti, who is a screenwriter, cartoonist, author, painter and a playwright, pivoted when COVID-19 restrictions stopped him from visiting homes. 

“I have learnt from Gandhiji to overcome whatever obstacles come my way,” says Surti, who then picked public establishments to continue his work, fixing leaky faucets in police stations, traffic police chowkies and public toilets. 

Further spreading the message of water conservation, Surti tried to tap into people’s religious beliefs. Using his creative skills, he made posters with messages of  ‘save water’ and pasted these in churches, mosques, temples and gurudwaras in Mira Road. The posters had messages from various holy books, appealing to devout people to take up water conservation. 

He is tickled that local policemen asked him for copies of these posters, to paste inside police stations. "They said even criminals will now know the value of water," Surti says.  

While it is difficult to believe that a man at 90 can continue doing such remarkable work along with his professional work, for Charru Sharma, filmmaker and founder of Yatha Katha Pvt Ltd, it is not a surprise. Sharma, who has known Surti for a decade, thinks that he is an institution in himself. “What is commendable is that even at this age, he continues to do this phenomenal work, and that too without any financial support. His water conservation work is one of the most terrific contributions to the society, considering that future generations are likely to suffer due to water shortage.”

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