The second part of positive water developments of India on WWD 2021 highlight water conservation efforts by villagers, farmers, citizens, state governments. The first part with ten most remarkable stories can be seen here.
This compilation has four sections. The first one covers zone wise the efforts by communities, organizations. The second section has Inspiring Individual Initiatives. Third part has stories related to efforts of returned migrants during lockdown, under the MNAREGA. The Fourth Section has some steps taken by state governments in exploring local alternatives to meet potable and irrigation water demands. Some additional water reports in the same context are given at the end.
COMMUNITY, ORGANISATION EFFORTS: NORTH
Uttarakhand Women hug trees to protect water sources Invoking memories of ‘Chipko Movement’, hundreds of women of Jaakhni village in Bageshwar hug hugs Oak trees in noon of March 16, 2021 in the nearby forest which belongs to ‘Kotgari Devi’, Goddess of Justice in the hills of Uttarakhand. They want to protect over 500 trees which are to be felled to pave way for a 2 kms motorable road.
“This forest which was dedicated to Kotgari Goddess of justice. We do not even collect fodder from these forests as they belong to Devi Maa. The road from Kamedi Devi to Chaunala area will destroy the local ecosystem and will prove detrimental for the people of the area as well as the environment,” says Kamla Devi, Sarpanch of Jaakhni village who is leading the movement.
People of the area, especially women say that these trees are no less than their children. They also add that the road and felling of trees pose serious threat to natural water springs in the area. Basanti Devi from the village said, “Every plant and tree has been nurtured like children of our own. We will not allow falling of axe on these trees.” The residents of the area allege that the authorities are adamant to cut down way more trees than actually approved. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/mar/16/uttarakhand-bageshwar-women-hug-trees-to-prevent-felling-in-forestbelonging-to-goddess-of-justice-2277469.html (16 March 2021)
Here is another detailed report on the issue by Gaon Connection. “We are aware how the forests have helped recharge our water bodies, the naulas,” Kalawati Devi, a resident and part of the new Chipko movement, told Gaon Connection.
“Indiscriminate forest degradation for development activities like road widening has led to drying up of natural water springs in this area,” Hemwant Singh Mehta, a resident of Jakhni and president of the non-profit Jakhni Pariwar Foundation, told Gaon Connection.
The situation is such that all these villages face acute water shortage in summers but, this year even in winter months the area has been grappling with water issues, he said. This year because of low rainfall and less snowfall, the groundwater and local springs were not recharged. https://en.gaonconnection.com/uttarakhand-chipko-bageshwar-forest-jal-jungle-jameen-women/ (19 March 2021)
“We don’t need the proposed Kamedi devi-Rangthara-Majgaon-Chonala road, which would be built at the cost of 500 trees. Our village already has a severe water shortage and chopping these many trees will make it worse. Also, all 600-odd villagers of Jakhni depend upon forest produce for their livelihood. How will we survive once the forest is gone?” said 56-year-old Kamla Devi, sarpanch of Jakhni van panchayat. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/chipko-rerun-hundreds-of-women-in-bageshwar-hug-500-trees-to-stop-them-from-being-felled/articleshow/81536997.cms (17 March 2021)
Villagers say that over 500 hundreds old trees of native species play important role in protection of water sources if these are cut down, their water sources would also get damaged. https://www.amarujala.com/photo-gallery/dehradun/uttarakhand-news-bageshwar-women-wrapped-tree-for-save-them (15 March 2021)
Villagers pool money to rebuild Gauri Kund After repeated requests to the administration and politicians to rebuild and give a facelift to Gauri Kund hot – water spring which got damaged in the 2013 Kedarnath deluge – fell on deaf years, locals have now taken the task of reconstructing the holy spring upon themselves. Villagers have pooled in money and have started clearing the debris and muck from the hot spring area. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/villagers-pool-money-to-rebuild-gauri-kund-destroyed-in-2013-flood/articleshow/81517805.cms (16 March 2021)
Punjab Work on revival of ponds With ground water increasingly being used for irrigation over the years, the state is now looking to change course and revive a traditional water system. https://www.newsclick.in/Groundwater-Rejuvenation-Traditional-Ponds-MNREGA-Mission-Tandrust-Punjab (24 June 2020)
Village youths revive filthy pond Interestingreport on efforts being made by Baljinder and Gurpreet of Shreenh Wala Brar to free their village pond of encroachments and filth in Ferozepur. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/features/filthy-pond-turns-into-lake-two-young-men-change-the-face-of-their-village-111836 (12 July 2020)
Uttar Pradesh Interesting experiment by young farmers of Banda A new experiment for water conservation has been started under the campaign ‘Khet ka pani khet mein – gaon ka pani gaon mein’ in village Andhav, which falls in Baberu block. Environmental activist Rambabu Tiwari, who works for water conservation, said that 300 bighas of the village is prepared to collect rainwater by constructing a small bunds in the fields. He said that without govt help, the people of the village are not only working towards the proper use of the rain water, but are also preparing to take advantage of it for their farming. https://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/state/uttar-pradesh/others/banda-village-experiments-for-conservation-of-rain-water-in-fields/articleshow/76477595.cms (20 June 2020)
Bunds to abundance Jakhani’s transformation from a parched to a water-abundant village happened over the past decade and a half through the initiative of 51-year-old farmer Umashankar Pandey, who launched the ‘Khet mein medd, medd par pedd (Trees on weirs in farms)’ programme in 2005. It drastically improved water availability in the village through various measures, such as raising farm bunds, developing farm ponds, rejuvenating water bodies and intensive tree plantation. https://www.indiatoday.in/amp/magazine/nation/story/20210329-bunds-to-abundance-1781254-2021-03-21 (21 March 2021)
Delhi Narela Youth Rejuvenate a dry Pond The monsoon rains of August 2020 have brought a soothing smile on the faces of villagers working towards revival of Patodi Johad a traditional water body in Narela, a bustling sub-city in North Delhi. The greenery, cleanliness created over past one year around the pond with joint effort by youth, women, elderly and children have been now complemented by rainwater flooding the pond making it one of the best locations in Narela where native plants, water body, blooming garden are thriving. https://sandrp.in/2020/08/30/patodi-johad-narela-youth-rejuvenate-a-dry-pond/ (30 Aug. 2020)
NORTH EAST AND EAST
Traditional means to harvest rain water In Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura, people store and harvest rain water through traditional means. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/environment/how-the-north-east-uses-traditional-means-to-harvest-rain-water-69490 (27 Feb. 2020)
Assam SRI helps paddy farmers reap rich harvest Switching to SRI (System of Rice Intensification) method has helped them harvest more than twice the normal yield. Modhupur is a remote village located near the foothills of Eastern Himalayas in Baksa district of Assam.
The families that cultivated paddy using SRI method for the first time got a minimum for 40% increase in yield. https://www.villagesquare.in/2021/02/17/paddy-farmers-reap-rich-harvest-through-sri-cultivation/ (17 Feb. 2021)
Jharkhand Solar energy help meet irrigation, drinking water, electricity needs in Gumla The project has opened up the option of irrigation for the farmers, which has changed their fortunes. “In the absence of rainfall, farmers lift water from the nearby Dhangaon Gaja Toli dam. The weekly cost of irrigation stands at roughly Rs. 250-300. There is a fixed rate of Rs. 30 per hour,” a farmrt said.
Apart from irrigation, solar panels atop wells supply drinking water to households and solar microgrids light up homes. PRADAN is the implementing partner of this project in Jharkhand aided by its technical partner, Gram Oorja Solutions Pvt Ltd, responsible for grid installations. https://india.mongabay.com/2020/03/sunrays-light-up-dark-villages-in-jharkhand/ (17 Mar 2020)
Solar lift irrigation helps Gumla farmers More than 200 farmers in three blocks of the Gumla district adopted solar lift irrigation to reduce dependence on monsoon rains. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/agriculture/solar-lift-irrigation-helps-gumla-farmers-move-away-from-diesel-pump-sets-71091 (13 May 2020)
Water sustainability increases farmer incomes The farmers in Gumla & Simdega districts were suffering from severe water crisis and soil erosion till a few years ago. The state govt along with non-profit chipped in and started watershed management by excavating trenches along the hill slopes in 2012. https://india.mongabay.com/2020/07/water-sustainability-leads-to-better-income-for-jharkhand-farmers/ (6 July 2020)
W Bengal Restoration of ponds Story of Rainwater harvesting in Cooch Behar with annual rainfall of 3500 mm. Despite good rainfall, lack of water retention led to farmers’ migration. Deepening of ponds to store rainwater has stopped migration & helped farmers grow crops across seasons. https://www.villagesquare.in/2020/12/07/restoration-of-ponds-leads-to-revival-of-agriculture/ (7 Dec 2020)
Madhya Pradesh Revived shallow springs fulfill water needs of villages – About importance of jhirias natural springs in Dindori area along Narmada river basin and steps to conserve, tap them as potable water source. https://www.villagesquare.in/2021/01/29/revived-shallow-springs-fulfill-water-needs-of-villages/ (29 Jan. 2021)
Tending soil with tank silt In the summer months when the water levels of the tanks and lakes in the village decline, areas where the silt has got deposited gets exposed. This silt can be removed from these patches and be transported to the farmlands and applied as soil amendments on lighter and less fertile soils. In this photo feature, Rahul Jain, a development professional at Samaj Pragati Sahayog documents sequential images of the process in village Dangrakheda of Dewas district. https://www.waterpractitioners.org/post/tending-the-soil-with-tank-silt (07 July 2020)
Bundelkhand Unique geological faetures in upper Ken River catchment need to be conserved In this excellent Guest Blog, Seema Ravandale of People’s Science Institute, Dehradun describes unique groundwater structures of Upper Ken Basin, called Bharka, or Kund, which have been serving the people for centuries.
There are some unique management systems that people follow and when these are violated as happened in Kathayi (Shahnagar, Panna district), a ST (Scheduled Tribe) dominated village the structure stands destroyed. The CGWB or Madhya Pradesh WRD seems to have not studied this or developed sustainable ways for these structure. Please, do Read and Share. https://sandrp.in/2020/06/06/groundwater-in-bundelkhand-unique-geological-features-in-upper-ken-river-catchment-need-to-be-conserved/ (06 June 2020)
Women revive ponds for water security in Bundelkhand In Chhatarpur district, Ganga Rajput & Babita Rajput have led the women of their villages to successfully revive ponds. The ponds, which now help with water supply in the drought-prone villages, had gone dry and women, who were responsible for the household’s water, had to walk long distances in the heat to fetch water. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/01/women-revive-ponds-for-water-security-in-bundelkhand/ (13 Jan. 2021)
Nurturing Networks and Revitalising Rain-fed agriculture Bundelkhand – a hilly region in the central and north India, has often been covered in the news for extreme distress and impoverishment. This film showcases a holistic approach which was adopted as part of an initiative to find agriculture solutions for small farmers in rain-fed regions of Bundelkhand. It explains the role Revitalising Rain-fed Agriculture (RRA) network along with Development Alternatives, INTACH and PSI in working towards strengthening farmer based institutions to become a mediator for small holder and marginal farmers. https://youtu.be/DUxUJoChBcA (04 May 2020)
Villagers prepare for another summer Bharat Dogra captures well the initiative and the community’s response in the villages of Bundelkhand in conserving the water sources. https://www.newsclick.in/Bundelkhand-UP-MP-Water-Crisis-Climate-Change-Ken-River (03 June 2020)
Rajasthan Digital tool to monitor groundwater Up until now, the Community Resource Persons (CRPs) in the project area of Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), a non-profit organisation have mostly been men. However, its staff and cadre’s year-long efforts to mobilize women to participate in the water monitoring exercise have received a positive response, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown.
To date, close to 45 women in these districts have taken to well water monitoring in and around their villages, of which at least 15 are actively engaged in this activity. Gayatri Sharma, one of the CRPs from Baori Village of Jahazpur Block in Bhilwara District, has already recorded the water levels of 50 wells. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/article/digital-tool-monitor-groundwater (28 Feb. 2021)
MGNREGA water conservation project turned a district into an Oasis There are parts of Batka Phala and Paldewal villages in Dungarpur district that belie they are in the dry and arid Rajasthan. The greenery around Boladhara pond in Batka Phala and the dense vegetation surrounding the anicut (a masonry check dam) on the Godhal river in Paldewal gives the impression that the area gets ample rain, or is watered by perennial rivers. The reason behind the greenery becomes evident as one drives towards these villages in Dungarpur district. On the surrounding hills, trenches are dug under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to prevent runoff and allow water to percolate. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/how-mgnrega-water-conservation-project-turned-a-rajasthan-district-into-an-oasis-76003 (20 March 2021)
Maharashtra Ecosystems-based adaptation keeps water running in Bhojdari even in dry months Bhojdari, in Ahmednagar district, is a village in the rain-shadow region of the Western Ghats; it is in the upper catchment and has no river, dam or canal nearby, but has sufficient water even in dry months. “Even though our village has no major water body and is partly hilly, we have been tanker-free and self-sufficient in our water needs since the early 2000s,” said Pushpavika Hande (45), Bhojdari.
The project was implemented by the Pune-based Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR), as part of the Indo-German Watershed Development Programme. The land in Bhojdari is said to be hard, and the geology of the village does not support groundwater recharge, said Niraj Joshi, Senior Researcher with the WOTR Centre for Resilience Studies (W-CReS). “In an EbA-based approach, on the other hand, you look at land use capability classification, i.e. using land as per its capability, and restoring land back to its land capability classification such as grassland or shrubland, as opposed to converting it all into cropped land.” Joy said. https://india.mongabay.com/2020/06/ecosystems-based-adaptation-keeps-water-running-in-bhojdari-even-in-dry-months/ (29 June 2020)
Returning to traditional practices to save Vidarbha’s ‘Lake District’ The triumvirate of Malgujari lake conservation in eastern Vidarbha has not just rejuvenated over five dozen lakes and water bodies in Bhandara and Gondia districts but have also given a new hope to the local community, especially the women, of a dignified life. https://india.mongabay.com/2020/12/returning-to-traditional-practices-to-save-vidarbhas-lake-district/ (16 Dec. 2020)
Climate smart agricultural model empowers rural women This case study showcases the success of a women-led climate-smart agricultural model in enhancing women’s livelihoods, incomes and food security. Located in central-western India, the Marathwada region is recognised as one of India’s most drought-prone areas. Marginal farmers in this region grow cash crops such as soy and cotton, which require more water, chemical fertilisers and pesticides. This damages their land, health and the environment in the long run. https://cdkn.org/resource/groundbreaking-climate-smart-agricultural-model-empowers-rural-women-in-maharashtra/ (25 May 2020)
Bringing life to a dying stream In Vidarbha, water harvesting restores a nala to a perennial stream. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/article/bringing-life-dying-stream (09 Feb. 2021)
A village turned a dying lake into a birding paradise Around seven years ago, Paraswada lake was nothing more than a stinking wamp filled with weed species like hypomia and nilambori. Much of the lake would be lost to paddy cultivation on the lake bed when the water receded in the dry season. Today, the lake hosts around 55 species of birds, 20 of them migratory. Between November and February, around 500 visitors come to the lake daily. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/wildlife-biodiversity/world-water-day-how-a-village-in-maharastra-turned-a-dying-lake-into-a-birding-paradise-76066 (22 March 2021)
Kerala A miracle in the Kole wetlands by Sudha Nambudiri Could you come together and fight for a common cause above and beyond political delineations? Farmers in the traditional Kole wetlands of Thrissur have been doing just that, as part of their struggle to protect the unique ecosystem from reclamations and degradation.
For most farmers, the Kole wetlands known for their rice-producing ecosystem don’t represent nature or the environment. It is their food security and they do not want it to be abused. “Almost 90% of the Kole wetlands in Thrissur district have been protected. We don’t permit reclamation,” says K K Kochu Mohammed, who heads Zilla Kole Karshaka Samithi (ZKKS), a collective of 130 farmer groups.
It was when people shifted from agriculture to non-farming sectors that the remaining people started forming small farmers’ groups. “There was a need to set up a strong united front to protect the wetlands. That is how the Samithi was set up. It has members from all political fronts. Unfortunately, you cannot see such a unity in any other district,” says Mohammed. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/tracking-indian-communities/a-miracle-in-the-kole-wetlands/ (06 March 2021)
Puthenvelikkara panchayat launches flood mitigation work Excellent initiative to map the flood inundation area in Puthenvelikkara panchayat in Kochi district in Kerala with community involvement, led by Dr C.G. Madhusoodhanan, CEO, Equinoct. In collaboration with the students and faculty of the Civil Engineering Department of SNM Engg College, Malyankara, near North Paravur. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/puthenvelikkara-panchayat-launches-flood-mitigation-work/article33025821.ece (5 Nov 2020)
A story on an attempt at restoring and conserving the lakes driven by a community project in Mookaneri and Ammapet, Salem. Made by Srishti Films, with Kalpavriksh, for Vikalp Sangam. https://youtu.be/jJLH42rcsQ0 (28 Jan. 2020)
Trichy Padma Shri for building eco-friendly toilets The announcement of Padma Shri to 71-year-old M Subburaman from Trichy city has put NGOs and social workers here in an upbeat mood. The award was in recognition of his efforts of over 20 years in building more than 1.2 lakh toilets across India. Subburaman pioneered and propagated the concept of ecological sanitation (EcoSan) toilets, a crucial reason for the prestigious recognition. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/trichy/social-worker-gets-padma-shri-for-building-eco-friendly-toilets/articleshow/80471187.cms (27 Jan. 2021)
Report about community driven revival of local water bodies in Goa, TN. https://news.trust.org/item/20210308005902-n6kop/ (08 March 2021)
Bengaluru Engineer helps revive 10K wells to mitigate city’s water crisis Vishwanath Srikantaiah, a water activist who runs a Bengaluru-based NGO named Rainwater Club, is working tirelessly to conserve the water resources. Srikantaiah, who gets massive support from the local communities and well-diggers, has been successful in reviving 10,000 wells and aims to recharge 1 million wells in future.
Popularly known as ZenRainMan, Srikantaiah possesses the credentials of a Civil Engineer and an urban planner, who worked for Housing and Urban Development Corporation for about 14 years before dedicating to the cause of water conservation. Besides recharging wells, Srikantaiah has also designed rooftop rainwater harvesting structures for several households and factories across Karnataka.
He has started a YouTube channel, ZenRainMan, through which he shares his insights and tries to spread awareness on the proper usage of rainwater and provides tips for rainwater harvesting. He has divided the videos into separate playlists that tell about Harvesting Rain Water, Groundwater and Sustainable Sanitation techniques. The activist has also posted discussions, seminars and demonstrations he has participated in to spread awareness on the issue. https://www.firstpost.com/india/mission-paani-bengaluru-based-engineer-helps-revive-10000-wells-to-mitigate-citys-water-crisis-9242201.html (27 Jan. 2021)
Wells movement to solve water crisis “Rainwater falling in the plot gets channelised into the recharge well. The 15-ft well is now filled up to 10-11 ft, and has around 2000 litres of water. I’ve been building a house in the plot, and water from the well is used for all construction needs.” Raghuram built the well after being inspired by ‘A Million Wells for Bengaluru’ movement. https://bengaluru.citizenmatters.in/million-recharge-wells-biome-friends-of-lakes-rainwater-harvesting-43978 (12 May 2020)
Visakhapatnam Residents reaping GW recharge benefits The 15 pits constructed since 2010 at the cost of Rs 7,000 each have recharged the groundwater levels of JRN colony and neighbours. Moreover, the harvesting pits save 7.45 lakh litres of water every year. K S R Murthy, a scientist and President of RWA, recently came up with a short booklet on how individuals and apartments can learn from traditional water-saving techniques. https://www.thebetterindia.com/231215/andhra-pradesh-vishakha-colony-rainwater-harvesting-save-water-india-gop94/ (27 June 2020)
INSPIRING INDIVIDUAL INITIATIVES
Himachal Pradesh Kuhl ki Kahani Story on an irrigation system designed 300 years ago that diverts water flowing from rivers through mountains into agricultural lands. An eco-friendly and cost effective method driven by the local community in Palampur. Made by Srishti Films, with Kalpavriksh, for Vikalp Sangam. https://youtu.be/uYRw3p1vPPY (28 Jan. 2020)
Gharats – Builders Guidebook released “When we set out to revive on such worn down water mill near our Village, we came across a challenge, there was no prior-art document or guidebook we could refer to while working with the craftsperson. The learnings that we found out, we share in this guidebook for others to consider… I am sure you will find this guidebook of interest. I do hope it offers you no answers and leaves you with many wonderful questions to quest for further!” https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/gharats-water-mills-himachal-pradesh-builders-guidebook-gupta/ (26 May 2020)
Managing waste to save wetlands Local communities in Himachal Pradesh have a spiritual bond with lakes in the state and most of the water bodies are considered sacred. Increasing tourism and irresponsible disposal of plastic waste are among the threats to these wetlands.
Pradeep Sangwan leads an organisation that has been actively cleaning up the wetlands in the region through clean-up treks and waste management activities. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/03/managing-waste-to-save-the-wetlands-of-himachal-pradesh/ (16 March 2021)
Karnataka Man combats water scarcity by building ponds Kalmane Kamegowda, a 72-year-old shepherd who never attended school, says he’s spent at least $14,000 from his and his son’s earnings, mainly through selling sheep he tended over the years, to dig a chain of 16 ponds on a picturesque hill near his village, 120 km west of Bengaluru.
Kamegowda — known as “Pond Man” — says they’re “scientific” in nature, with the water flowing on a slope, enabling the ponds to avoid drying up even in summer months. Birds and wild animals such as bears, leopards, deer and foxes drink water from the ponds.
Kamegowda, who sports tidy black hair and a gray beard, was once dismissed as mad by other villagers. They mocked him for claiming that he had learned from his father, also a shepherd, the art of identifying ground moisture and using it to create bodies of water. He relied mostly on shovels, spades and pickaxes to create the water bodies, and rented excavating machines when he could afford them. https://www.hindustantimes.com/it-s-viral/karnataka-man-combats-water-scarcity-by-building-ponds/story-QI2DomAlO1ekaXKiRFVkrN.html (20 Dec 2020) Hindi report: https://www.navjivanindia.com/videos/meet-kalmane-kamegowda-who-spent-his-own-money-to-fight-against-water-crisis (23 Dec. 2020)
Kerala Man build rare ‘Suranga’ water system Digging through the ‘suranga’ cave wells, one of the oldest water harvesting systems found in the regions of north Kerala and Karnataka, 67-year old Kunjambu has single handedly provided water to the villagers of Kundamjuzhy, a village in Kerala’s Kasargod district for more than 50 years. Kunjambu, who started digging at the age of 14 is now one of the very few suranga diggers left in the country and claims that thus far, he has dug out over 1000 of these cave-like wells.
‘Suranga’ in Kannada or ‘Thurangam’ in Malayalam is a narrow cave-like structure dug into the lateral sides of hills. These unique cave wells are almost 2.5 feet wide can be dug up to 300 meters until a water spring is found, and are considered one of the most sustainable water harvesting systems in these regions. The water that flows into the tunnel is channelled into a reservoir that is built near the tunnel. Once the water starts freely flowing from the springs, there is a steady supply of freshwater for years, without the use of pumps. Said to have originated in Iran, this water harvesting system is now sadly being overpowered by the borewell culture, and many of the existing surges are neglected.
“Surangas have been an ideal resource for farmers for a long period of time. They are a perennial source of water, and borewells can never become a replacement to this system, especially in regions like Kasargod where the tendency for a collapse is much higher,” explains Shree Padre, a renowned writer from Kasargod. Today there are more than 5,000 surangas in the Kasargod district, but most have become ineffective because of its neglect. However, people like Kunjambu are not ready to give up, yet. “Although the suranga system is slowly dying, I want to continue my journey in the depths of the earth as long as I can, in hope that this system can be revived again,” Kunjambu concludes. https://www.thebetterindia.com/224351/kerala-man-water-harvesting-system-suranga-cave-wells-natural-ancient-techniques-india-ser106/ (21 April 2020)
Bihar Man carves out 3-km canal in 30 years to irrigate parched fields A man has carved out a three-km long canal to take rainwater coming down from nearby hills to fields of his village, Kothilawa in Lahthua area of Gaya in Bihar.
“It took me 30 years to dig this canal which takes the water to a pond in the village,” said Laungi Bhuiyan who has dug out the canal single-handedly in Gaya. “For the last 30 years, I would go to the nearby jungle to tend my cattle and dig out the canal. No one joined me in this endeavour… Villagers are going to cities to earn a livelihood but I decided to stay back,” he added. Kothilwa village is surrounded by dense forest and mountains, about 80 km away from Gaya dist headquarters. The main means of livelihood are farming and animal husbandry. During the rainy season, the water falling from the mountains used to flow into the river which used to bother Bhuiyan following which he thought of carving out a canal. https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/bihar-man-carves-out-3-km-long-canal-in-30-years-to-irrigate-parched-fields-2294556 (13 Sep 2020) Here is more information on Laungi Bhuiyan work. https://www.zenger.news/2020/09/18/65-year-old-indian-digs-1-9-mile-canal-alone/ (18 Sept. 2020)
Uttarakhand Youth dedicates self to plant oak trees to conserve groundwater Chandan Nayal (26) has planted over 1 lakh trees out of which 10,000 survive in state’s hill areas. The oak – baanj in local language – is believed to hold and preserve groundwater in hill areas. “The pine tree invasion has fuelled forest fires. So I decided to talk to the people, especially children and youth, about the alternative that I have. Their efforts are bearing fruit, and I am thankful to the people for their support,” says Nayal who earns around Rs 6,000 per month by farming on his ancestral land. He has left his well-paying job in the industrial town of Rudrapur in Udham Singh Nagar.
Today, he has a team of over 150 people who choose spots across the state which need plantation or water conservation. Nayal and his team survey the area and talk to locals. After the local population is convinced, the work starts. This includes readying the land for plantation, creating ‘Chal Khaal’ – a small area with pits to conserve the water table.
This is a traditional method in Uttarakhand hills to conserve water. He has also built a nursery of over 6,000 square feet in his ancestral land where plants are kept by him to support the plantation drive. A patient reader, he travels to the state’s glaciers every year to assess the ground situation of remotest villages of the state. He recently returned from his 120km trek of Milan glacier and plans to cover many others. https://www.newindianexpress.com/good-news/2020/nov/29/uttarakhand-man-dedicates-self-to-plant-oak-trees-across-state-in-bid-to-conserve-groundwater-2229383.html (29 Nov. 2020)
Man revives dead spring 55-year-old Jagdish Chandra Kudiyal from Sirkot village in Bageshwar district has revived a dead spring that, now, is the only source of drinking water to 400 homes in a number of villages and is useful for irrigation.
Kudiyal is a farmer and owns a grocery shop as well. Twenty years ago, he decided to plant saplings around the water spring that had dried up. The idea struck him when the villagers were facing an acute water shortage. He began plantation drive after being inspired by the Chipko Movement where people took to protest against deforestation since it was leading to soil erosion and depletion of natural resources. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/mann-ki-baat-pm-mentions-bageshwar-farmer-55-who-revived-dead-spring/articleshow/81260880.cms (01 March 2021)
Odisha Farmer develops irrigation system from bamboo sticks, plastic bottles After seeing the poor irrigation conditions in and around his farmland, a farmer in Odisha has come up with a water lifting system made of bamboo pipes and plastic bottles, completely changing his agricultural practice. Mahur Tipiria, a resident of Badamtalia village in the Mayurbhanj district, devised this system in an effort to efficiently irrigate his farmland from the nearest water source – a river two kilometres away.
Tiparia’s nature-friendly device does not use electricity or a polluting generator set but just a common gravity trick. It’s specially structured system helps out neighbouring farmers in their fields as well. The bamboo is placed on a sloping structure as its wheels rotate with the water current, lifting water from the source. The water collected in the containers made out of used plastic water bottles. The water is then channelised through bamboo pipes towards farmlands.
Tipiria said that he finally came up with the irrigation system after several failed attempts to get help from the government. “I am a poor man and have no money. I had filed a petition after petition to government offices but no one came to help us. So I developed this technique,” he said. https://www.aninews.in/news/national/general-news/odisha-farmer-develops-irrigation-system-from-bamboo-sticks-plastic-bottles20210110091350/ (10 Jan. 2021)
Rajasthan Irishman helping preserve Jodhpur historic stepwell The city of Jodhpur is known for its ancient step-wells. These are storage pools with flights of steps leading to the water. Many of them lay disused and decrepit until Irishman Caron Rawnsley stepped into action. https://thewire.in/history/watch-irishman-jodhpur-stepwell (24 Sept. 2020)
Karnataka Long march towards water literacy Ayyappa Masagi, born in Gadag district, is called Water Gandhi of India in this article. In 2008, he set up the Water Literacy Foundation. https://www.edexlive.com/people/2020/mar/16/why-the-water-gandhis-long-march-towards-water-literacy-will-leave-you-heartened-10631.html (16 March 2020)
12 heroes redefining the landscape of water conservation This is the final story in a series of articles to create awareness about the ongoing water crisis and to encourage necessary action to address it.
The names include Vishwanath Srikantaiah, Veena Srinivasan, Aabid Surti, Kalpana Ramesh, K.J.Joy, Rajendra Singh, Shishir Rao, Parineeta Dandekar, Ajya Mittal, Nachiket Kelkar, Aditi Mukherji. Links to interviews with each of them can be found here: https://www.natureinfocus.in/save-every-drop. https://www.natureinfocus.in/save-every-drop/the-answer-to-india-s-water-crisis (4 Nov 2020)
Water Warriors One more report profiling some of the leading water conservationists in India and impact of their work. https://openthemagazine.com/cover-stories/water-warriors/ (19 March 2021)
Vikrant Tongad of SAFE has been awarded water hero reward by Ministry of Jal Shakti for his water conservation efforts. https://www.amarujala.com/delhi-ncr/noida/environmentalist-vikrant-tongad-was-given-the-title-of-water-hero-noida-news-noi558526842 (08 Jan. 2021)
LOCKDOWN, MIGRANTS AND MGNREGA
Uttar Pradesh In Jhansi, 325 ponds revived under MGNREGS 325 ponds have been revived in Jhansi district under “One Village, One Pond” initiative launched by the district administration. Jhansi District Magistrate Andra Vamsi said that 11,000 migrant workers, who had returned to the state during the coronavirus-induced lockdown in April-May 2020, were employed in the pond-revival work under MGNREGS. “We are giving finishing touches to the remaining 171 ponds,” said Vamsi. The ponds are spread on 1-3 ha with depth of 3-8 metres. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/bundelkhand-jhansi-one-village-one-pond-initiative-6593174/ (12 Sept. 2020)
Karnataka Pandemic helps revival of Madakas in Udupi With the water conservation efforts being taken up, the Covid-19 pandemic has turned out to be a boon for Kadoor Panchayat of Udipi district. In Nadoor and Kadoor villages, youth who returned home from Mumbai and Bengaluru following the lockdown, have been involved under MGNREGA for the revival works of five madakas- a traditional rainwater harvesting system.
The people who were generally reluctant to work under the scheme have now come forward to take up works related to de-silting and there have been instances of people earning upto Rs 600 per day, informs the panchayat development officer Mahesh K. De-silting of ponds and madakas helps recharge groundwater and so far about 12 madakas and six lakes have been de-silted while a few more have been identified. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangaluru/pandemic-helps-revival-of-madakas-in-udupi/articleshow/76802873.cms (06 July 2020)
Odisha Tribals bring water to two villages Through their collective effort, around 100 tribal families of Tantaguda and Panaspunji under Gajalmamudi panchayat of Chitrakonda block in Malkangiri district have built a water supply project that has saved them from the rigours of water collection in the lockdown during this summer.
The project includes a top covered concrete tank at a hill top in which water of the perennial stream gets collected. An over 2 km-long pipeline transports water from this tank to the two villages. The water flows down by gravity. The people designed the whole project without taking any technical support. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/tribal-people-bring-water-to-their-two-villages/article31428247.ece (24 April 2020)
Madhya Pradesh Migrants return to become water warriors
Ahead of monsoon, a large number of migrants who reached their villages in the Bundelkhand region from different parts of the country, have started working on water conservation, which incidentally is one of their major reasons for their migration. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/mp-migrants-return-to-become-water-warriors-in-parched-bundelkhand/articleshow/76254719.cms (08 June 2020)
Uttarakhand Workers return to revive traditional water sources Traditional water sources have been water life line for most of villages in hill areas of Uttarakhand. Sadly, with changing time, lifestyle and introduction of tap water facilities these water sources and structures have been facing neglect of people and apathy of government.
The story of Pokhri village in Pouri Garhwal district is a step in this direction.The initiative by youths shows that with little efforts and work, local water sources can be restored. https://sandrp.in/2020/06/04/wed-2020-uttarakhand-migrant-workers-revive-traditional-water-sources/ (04 June 2020) Also see the blog in Hindi here. https://bit.ly/3gVJ76s
When repeated requests for better access to drinking water failed, members of a women’s collective convinced returned migrant youth to restructure community wells during lockdown. https://www.villagesquare.in/2020/09/14/adivasi-communities-restore-common-wells-during-lockdown/ (14 Sept. 2020)
Bihar MNREGA helps a village become flood proof United action of locals, wisdom of the village head and MNREGA help to deal with waterlogging in a village in Bihar. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/mnrega-helps-village-bihar-become-flood-proof (20 Sept. 2020)
Delhi 7 tracts of degraded land were transformed into biodiversity parks Report of a decade old journey that started in 2001 with 146 acre of floodplain land near Jagatpur in Wazirabad along the Yamuna. This is now part of the Yamuna Biodiversity Park, now spread over 457 acres.
In all today there are seven biodiversity parks in Delhi, the report says from DDA. Prof C R Babu of Delhi University who was part of the effort before this journey started continues to remain part of the team. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/such-a-long-journey-how-7-tracts-of-degraded-land-were-transformed-into-biodiversity-parks/articleshow/81595282.cms (20 March 2021)
All new water body debuts in Dwaraka The newly created 7-acre pond in Sector 16, Dwarka, will soon be filled with treated sewage from Pappankalan STP after passing through a tertiary filter and nutrient filter and recharge groundwater. The water flow from the STP was increased from 5 MLD to 10 MLD on March 6, 2021. The lake cost Rs2.5 crore to build, completed over 7 months, it is within the premises of the STP. This is part of a larger project to rejuvenate 155 water bodies in Delhi. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/all-new-waterbody-debuts-in-dwarka/articleshow/81400257.cms (09 March 2021)
Punjab Rain gun being used to irrigate paddy fields helps save 50% water in Sangrur DC Sangrur Ramvir said that this year direct sowing of rice (DSR) has been done on more than 21,000 hectares which is much better than last year’s figures of 700 hectares. He added that by adopting the DSR method, the farmers could save around 20 percent of water and other input costs including labor as well. He added that if rain guns will be used to irrigate DSR fields, then the farmers would be able to save 50 percent water as compared to traditional cultivation of paddy. He said that a consolidated report of the outcomes of this trial will be sent to the government after the harvesting of the paddy from the fields for further expansion of this project.
-Meanwhile, chief agriculture officer Jaswinderpal Singh Grewal said that apart from saving water, the rain gun also helps in saving electricity. He added that the input cost on urea fertilizer could also decrease as water thrown into the air by the rain gun also absorbs nitrogen from the environment and takes it to the roots of plants. He said that the artificial rain also washed plants regularly which also reduced the threat of pest attack on fields. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ludhiana/punjab-rain-gun-being-used-to-irrigate-paddy-fields-helps-save-50-water-in-sangrur/articleshow/77693508.cms (22 Aug. 2020)
Underground pipes offer ray of hope amid water crisis Punjab now has a network of 20,000 km of Underground Pipeline System (UGPS). It covers two lakh tubewells in 5.13 lakh hectares, reaching more than 2.50 lakh farmers. The result is that not only a lot of water is saved but the annual power bill has also gone down by Rs 637 crore. The net beneficiary is the farmer.
“Under UGPS, 15-25% water, 15-20% power and the proportionate labour is saved. As UGPS replaces the open, ‘kacha’ channels in the fields, about 1% of the total land is also saved which can be brought under cultivation,” says Chief Conservator Soil and Water Conservation, Dharminder Sharma.
He says given the alarming water table situation, there is a need to scale up the implementation of the programme in the next ten years. With 95% of the cultivated area already under irrigation with water-guzzling paddy in about 60% of the area, the potential of promoting UGPS is more in the non-paddy growing area of 15.53 lakh hectares falling in Faridkot, Hoshiarpur, Muktsar, Bathinda and Mansa districts.
The need for UGPS and other innovative water conservation techniques has become even more relevant: more than 70% of the area meets its irrigation demand from underground water. The number of tubewells has gone up to 15 lakh. Experts from the Central Ground Water Board have pointed to the massive rate of fall in subsoil water by 51 cm per year. “By laying underground pipes for irrigation in which 90% subsidy is given to a group of farmers and 50% to individual farmers, it also helps in improving the production as well as socio-economic uplift of the farmers,’’ says Sharma. https://www.newindianexpress.com/good-news/2020/sep/27/for-farmers-in-punjab-underground-pipes-offer-ray-of-hope-amid-water-crisis-2202291.html (27 Sept. 2020)
Jalandhar RWH project Administration will construct 15 rooftop rainwater harvesting systems in various blocks of the district during the financial year. The work on three rooftop rainwater harvesting systems in Nakodar has already been accomplished and construction on other sites would start soon. These rooftop rainwater harvesting systems are being constructed under the Integrated Watershed Management Programme in convergence with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. The entire project will cost around Rs 36 lakh.
Deputy Commissioner Ghanshyam Thori said the groundwater table had been dipping constantly in the district and all 10 blocks of the district had been declared ‘overexploited’. He said the rainwater harvesting systems would help recharge groundwater. He said the 15 systems would save 35 lakh litres of water annually. Thori said in August, three rainwater harvesting systems were installed in Nakodar and others would be built in Lohian, Shahkot and Phillaur. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/jalandhar/rainwater-harvesting-projects-to-check-groundwater-depletion-127123 (17 Aug. 2020)
Chhattisgarh Govt to build 1089 drains in forest To help conserve depleting groundwater resources within forested areas, the government has identified 1089 drains for treatment and revival in the forest areas. The programme will be implemented under the Narva Development Scheme. The initiative is aimed at the revival of 4,28,827 hectares of groundwater reservoirs within the forest-covered land. A provisional budget of Rs 160.95 crore has been earmarked from the Compensatory Afforestation Management and Protection Authority (CAMPA) fund for 137 drains. These drains are located over 31 forest divisions, one national park, two tiger reserves, one elephant reserve, and one social forestry area. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/chhattisgarh-to-revive-depleting-groundwater-in-forests-1733250-2020-10-20 (20 Oct. 2020)
Low-profile scheme to conserve water is showing encouraging results More than nine lakh hectares of agriculture land is supposed to benefit from the conservation efforts and so far, 4.5 lakh hectares has already been covered. The state government has increased the Budget modestly to Rs 200 crore this year. Though not everything can be verified on the ground, Rao has meticulously documented the work being done with longitudinal locations and pictures. It will also help determine the progress in the future.
Unfortunately, the forest department’s efforts are not being supplemented by the district administration and rural development departments, which have larger areas to cover. For these departments, the priority is to ensure that the narwas located in revenue areas are not captured by land sharks.
It appears that a lot of work done by these departments – de-siltation of urban water bodies and cleaning of nullahs – has not met with Baghel’s approval. Besides, the forest department and Rao have the unique benefit of working across the state’s geographical, while district administrations have limited vision and plans. https://thewire.in/government/chhattisgarh-water-conservation-bhupesh-baghel-forest-area (26 Oct. 2020)
Odisha FSM policy for small towns The policy environment on Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) was getting congenial in the country. In light of this, the Government of Odisha (GoO) initiated work to draft state policies that would facilitate the creation of an enabling environment for the implementation of FSM initiatives. The Housing and Urban Development Department (H&UDD), GoO prepared the Odisha Urban Sanitation Policy (OUSP) and revised the Odisha Urban Sanitation Strategy (OUSS) in 2017, with technical assistance from the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) under Project Nirmal.
These efforts have enabled Odisha to become a front runner among states with a comprehensive policy framework that ensures compliance with national environment, health and safety laws as well as those prohibiting manual scavenging. Further, to facilitate adoption of FSM by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), the GoO also prepared Odisha Urban Septage Management Guidelines in 2016 and Model Faecal Sludge and Septage Management Regulations in 2018. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/article/faecal-sludge-management-policy-environment-small-towns-taking-wider-view (18 Dec. 2020)
Puducherry Collector led the revival of over 300 waterbodies The then District Collector and present Secretary to the Chief Minister, A. Vikranth Raja, stepped in with the idea of digging into revenue records to locate the region’s traditional water bodies. It all started with a query raised at the meeting. When someone asked if Karaikal had the capacity to store 7 tmcft of river water allotted by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, “the response from officials was an emphatic no,” says M. Selvaganesh, Assistant, District Collectorate of Karaikal. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/how-a-collector-led-the-revival-of-over-300-waterbodies-in-a-puducherry-town/article31110547.ece (21 March 2020)
Telangana FSM to make town clean Sircilla is a first-grade municipality located on the banks of the Manair river in the Rajanna Sircilla sistrict of Telangana. The town of approximately 75,000 people is largely dependent on OSS. Sircilla has been certified as ODF by the Government of India and is moving towards ODF++ through treating the faecal matter in the FSTP. In this process, the output of treated faecal matter is mixed with organic material and converted to high enriched natural manure through the co-composting process.
Sircilla got the fifth rank out of 1,113 ULBs in the Swachh Surveskhan result of 2018 for the South zone and fourth in 2019, in the category of cities with a population of less than a lakh.The concept of implementation of FSTP in Sircilla evolved in 2015. This is an example of how Faecal sludge and septage management could be an opportunity to re-consider future strategies regarding treatment of faecal waste. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/water/how-an-environmental-engineer-used-faecal-sludge-management-to-make-his-telangana-town-clean-73599 (30 Sept. 2020)
Uttar Pradesh Govt to install 179 community solar tubewells In a push for solar irrigation, govt has approved a pilot project on community-level off-grid solar pumps for small and marginal farmers. The state government has allocated ₹60 million to install 179 ‘community mini solar tube wells’ under PM-KUSUM. Around 70% of the project cost will be covered by the state and central subsidies, and the remaining 30% will be borne by the farmers’ society.
Under this project, a 5HP solar-powered tube well will be installed for a group of 10 or more farmers. Each of these community mini solar irrigation projects are estimated to irrigate around 6 hectares of land and create a potential irrigation capacity of 10-hectares land. The minor irrigation department will implement the project while the agricultural department will act as the nodal agency for the project. Taking into account the groundwater situation in the state, it was also proposed that all the tube wells would be installed at a depth of 69 meters to avoid the blocks which are critical in terms of groundwater. https://mercomindia.com/uttar-pradesh-install-solar-tubewells/ (16 Oct. 2020)
Gujarat One thousands schools to harvest rain CM Vijay Rupani on June 29, 2020 called for rainwater harvesting in government schools and offices while dedicating 1,000 such completed projects through video conferencing. “Because of it (Sujalam Sufalam scheme), we have been able to increase water storage capacity by 40,628 lakh cubic feet in three years” CM said. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/1k-schools-set-to-harvest-rainwater/articleshow/76698518.cms (30 June 2020)
Surat City generating massive revenue by selling treated water to industries “We are treating 930 MLD water at 11 locations in Surat. We sell this water to industries at a rate of Rs 28.55 per 1,000 litres. Now we are expanding our capacity to treat 1,600 MLD water,” Amit Singh Rajput, Chairman, Drainage Committee, Surat Municipal Corporation said. “We have installed 12 STPs to ensure that treated water goes into the river. We have made 24,400 intercepting points to make sure that plastic does not enter river. We are providing 115 MLD water to local industries. We are generating revenue of Rs 140 crores from recycled water,” Surat Municipal Commissioner Banchhanidhi Panii said. http://www.businessworld.in/article/Surat-generating-massive-revenue-by-selling-treated-water-to-industries/17-12-2020-354614/ (17 Dec. 2020)
Commentary Cost-effective technology options for FSM Compared to centralised sewerage systems, FSM (Faecal Sludge Management) is a faster and cost-effective alternative as it aims to fix gaps in the sanitation value chain by tapping into already existing systems and infrastructure, at the local level, in a scientific manner ensuring easy adoption and sustainability over a long term, write the authors of this commentary. https://india.mongabay.com/2020/12/commentary-cost-effective-technology-options-for-faecal-sludge-management/ (23 Dec. 2020)
OTHER RELEVANT REPORTS
“RWH key to solving India’s water woes” Quite remarkable piece of wisdom from a senior official of MoWR. If this get translated into implied policy, programs and projects, as also legal and institutional situation, India’s water problems will get solved. https://indiaeducationdiary.in/rainwater-harvesting-is-key-to-solving-indias-water-woes-addl-secretary-mission-director-national-water-mission/ (08 July 2020)
IITs trying to provide clean water The Water Purification Technical Excellence Centre at IIT Kharagpur has developed a low-cost nano filtration technology which has ensured access to safe drinking water for 25,000 people at three different locations in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. This water is free of heavy metals, considered hazardous for health.
IIT Guwahati has also undertaken similar initiatives. In fact, children at a primary school in North Guwahati, Assam, have benefited from drinking the purified water from which excessive iron and chemical oxygen demand (COD) was removed. There was a stink in the water, but now IIT Guwahati has set up a water treatment plant in the school.
The plant has been developed on the basis of chemical free electrocoagulation technology in collaboration with DST and is capable of reducing the amount of iron and arsenic present in water, bringing the total dissolved solvent and chemical oxygen demand (COD) below the limits prescribed by BIS. https://www.businessinsider.in/science/environment/news/iits-in-india-are-trying-to-provide-clean-water-where-drinking-water-is-scarce/articleshow/81448774.cms (11 March 2021)
Innovation UC Berkeley professor invents rapid way to purify drinking water Berkeley scientist Ashok Gadgil has created a cheap, quick and scalable method to cleanse arsenic from drinking water. The technology, which leverages the natural binding properties of arsenic, would be able to deliver water to about 50,000 people from a plant that fits in a small garage, according to Gadgil. https://www.dailycal.org/2020/11/11/uc-berkeley-professor-invents-rapid-way-to-purify-drinking-water/ (11 Nov. 2020)
Telangana State decleared fluoride free The Union govt on Sept 25, 2020 declared Telangana as flouride free state. It had 967 flouride affected villages in June 2014 when AP was bifurcated. It’s suggested that this is due to Mission Bhagirath. https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/news/india/telangana-declared-fluoride-free-state-as-bhageeratha-takes-safe-drinking-water-to-doorsteps/articleshow/78187276.cms (19 Sep 2020)
The author, IWMI Principal Researcher Aditi Mukerji, argues that outdated policies around water, energy and food have contributed to the current unsustainable trends in water and energy sector and that reforms in water energy and food sectors are needed to better manage unsustainable groundwater use. https://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/2021/01/how-to-grow-nutritious-food-without-over-extracting-groundwater/ (21 Jan. 2021)
Compiled by Bhim Singh Rawat (email@example.com)