Inspiring tale of three villages in Thalisain tehsil (Pouri Garhwal district, Uttarakhand) which have been putting in sustained efforts for years in creating recharge pits, plantation and forest protection that has ultimately resulted in revival of water sources and Gadganga a small stream part of East Nayaar River basin. Continue reading “Uffrenkhal’s Legacy of Recharge Pits Ensures Water Security”
श्री अरुण तिवारी जी वरिष्ठ पत्रकार-लेखक हैं। आप लगभग पिछले तीन दशकों से नदियों को बचाने और जल संरक्षण के लिए उल्लेखनीय लेखन कार्य करते आ रहे हैं। आपका पानी पोस्ट हिंदी ब्लॉग काफी चर्चित है जिसपर आप नियमित तौर पर नदियों और पानी से जुड़े विभिन्न पहलुओं और समकालीन विषयों पर जानकारियां साँझा करते रहते हैं। आपके अनवरत प्रयासों को देखते हुए आपको 25 नवंबर 2018 को अनुपम मिश्र मेमोरियल मैडल से सम्मानित किया है। आपके विचारों को अधिक से अधिक लोगों तक पहुँचाने के लिए, प्रस्तुत है, भीम सिंह रावत, SANDRP द्वारा आपके साथ ईमेल के जरिये हुए बातचीत के प्रमुख अंश।
अनुपम मिश्र मेमोरियल मैडल देश में नदी संरक्षण पर उत्कृष्ठ मीडिया काम के लिए प्रदान किया जाता है। यह सम्मान प्रख्यात पर्यावरणविद और गांधीवादी स्व. अनुपम मिश्र की स्मृति में, वर्ष 2017 से, इंडिया रिवर्स फोरम (भारतीय नदी जनसभा) के द्वारा वार्षिक तौर पर आयोजित भारतीय नदी दिवस के अवसर पर दिया जाता है।
भीम सिंह रावत: अनुपम मिश्र मैमोरियल मैडल के लिए बधाई। आप पिछले तीन दशकों से निरंतर अपने लेखन से नदियों की दुर्दशा और संरक्षण की ज़रूरत का मुद्दा उठाते रहे हैं। आज नदियों की क्या स्थिति है ? नदियों पर मुख्य संकट क्या है ?
अरुण तिवारी – नदियां, पृथ्वी की नसें हैं। ये नसें निरंतर सिकुड़ रही हैं। नीली की बजाय, काली, पीली और भूरी पड़ती जा रही हैं। भारत में यह चित्र तेजी से बढ़ रहा है।
नदी संकट के नाम पर प्रदूषण, वैश्विक तापमान में वृद्धि आदि कई कारणों को गिनाया जा सकता है, लेकिन भारतीय नदियों पर आसन्न प्रमुख संकट यह है कि हम नदियों की बहने की आज़ादी को तेज़ी के साथ छीनते जा रहे हैं। नदियां आज़ाद बहें; इसके लिए ज़रूरी है कि हम अपनी नदियों को उनका प्रवाह, उनका वेग, उनकी भूमि तथा प्रवाह के उनके साथी वापस लौटाएं।
A try-out of the technique to grow paddy without puddling at village Chehlan of Ludhiana has resulted in higher yield in comparison to puddled fields, while saving water in the process. The crop was ready for harvest days before expected time, saving irrigation water otherwise to be used for another fourteen days. This trial was funded and supervised by ATMA, a central govt. scheme under the Union Ministry of Agriculture.
Puddling is a traditional method of flooding paddy fields with running water, whereas in non-puddling technique, ‘ridges and furrows’ are formed in soil to let water store in spaces and let it stay, thus reducing irrigation frequency.
“Not paddy but puddling is the enemy of waters of Punjab. It is wastage of water to puddle fields as most of it just evaporates. We have saved 45-50 per cent of water in non-puddled fields. Our yield has been almost 30 per cent more from fields where crop was not puddled. Also, non-puddled crop matured very early, saving at least ten days of irrigation water,” says Rupinder Singh Chahal (43) who along with his brothers Jasvir Singh (48) and Kulwinder Singh (52) experimented with ‘non-puddling’ technique on four acres this year.
On occasion of World Water Day 2018, SANDRP put together reports of remarkable water conservation work done by individuals, villager community and organizations across the country.
Good that UN report this WWD says[i]: “The efforts by local communities in India to improve water availability have been lauded in a UN report that highlights the importance of finding nature-based solutions to meet global water challenges…. The report notes that reservoirs, irrigation canals and water treatment plants are not the only water management instruments at disposal. It also cited the example of China’s Sponge City which aims to recycle 70 per cent of rainwater.”
But the UN report[ii] does not mention that local options should be the top priority and should be exhausted before going for large projects. Unfortunately, Indian water resources establishment’s priority is Large dams and river linking. The UN report also does not say that local systems are bound to be neglected and destroyed in the shadow of large projects and where the governance is top down, unaccountable, non transparent and non participatory.
अत्यधिक दुखःद समाचार है कि अनुपम मिश्र जी नहीं रहे। 19 दिसंबर 2016 को प्रातः 05:27 पर दिल्ली के एम्स अस्पताल में उनका देहांत हो गया।
पानी के मुद्दों और भारत की नदियों पर स्पष्ट विचारों वाले, सरल किंतु प्रभावशाली भाषाशैली के धनी, अत्यंत उदार और विनम्र अनुपम जी समान व्यक्तित्व दुर्लभ है। जैसा रवि चोपड़ा जी ने कहा है वे सही में अनुपम थे।
अनुपम जी भारतीय नदी सप्ताह 2016 के आयोजन समिति के अध्यक्ष थे और वर्ष 2014 भगीरथी प्रयास सम्मान चुनाव समिति के सदस्य थे और वर्ष 2015 में इस समिति के अध्यक्ष बने।
खराब स्वास्थ्य के बावजूद वे भारतीय नदी सप्ताह की आयोजन समिति की बैठकों में वे लगातार उपस्थित रहें, अंतिम बार सितंबर 2016 की बैठक में वे मौजूद थे और भारतीय नदी सप्ताह 28 नवंबर 2016 के शुभांरभ के समय भी वे उपस्थित रहे , जहॉ पर हमेशा की तरह उन्होने अपना सरल, स्पष्ट किंतु मर्मस्पर्शी व्याख्यान दिया। वे शाररिक रूप से थके और कमजोर थे , इस सबके बावजूद वे आए जो पर्यावरण के प्रति उनके समर्पण की मिसाल है।
व्यक्तिगत तौर पर वे मेरे (हिमांशु ठक्कर) प्रति बहुत उदार थे और मुझे हमेशा प्रेरित करते रहते थे। हमने कभी भी नहीं सोचा था कि एक दिन हमें उनसे अलग होना पडेगा। उनके चले जाने से देश और पर्यावरण को हुई क्षति की भरपाई नामुमकिन है। परंतु उनकी प्रकृति शिक्षा और अनुभव उनके द्वारा रचित स्पष्ट, सरल और सारंगर्भित लेखों और पुस्तकों के माध्यम से हमेशा हमारा मार्गदर्शन करती रहेंगी।
किताबों के समान उनके व्याख्यान भी ज्ञान और अनुभव से भरे हुए प्ररेणास्रोत है। उनके दिखाए मार्ग पर आगे बढ़ते रहने के लिए, दुख की घड़ी में हम, उनके द्वारा भारतीय नदी दिवस (28-30 नवंबर 2016) में दिए गए उनके अंतिम व्याख्यान को, उन्हें श्रृद्धांजलि के तौर पर अर्पित करते हुए, आपके साथ सांझा कर रहे हैं ।
In 2016, India has been witnessing one of the severest droughts after independence. The phenomena has led to a ‘never before’ kind of water crisis across the country. As a result the surface water sources are under severe stress and aquifers beneath ground have been over drafted. An already depressed agrarian community is worst hit. Thousands of parched villages have been dotting the rural landscape. Many somewhat immune urban centers are also facing the wrath of heat.
However there is no dearth of inspiring tales in the field of water conservation pan nation presenting a ray of hope amid gloomy scenario. The exemplary works being done by several villages, people and organizations across the country offer some lasting solutions to growing water scarcity. So here is an attempt to present a State wise account of drought hit areas which have been wading through the water crisis sound and safe by reinventing the community driven and local water harvesting practices.
Dams, Rivers & People News Update (22-31 May 2015)
MORE BAD NEWS FOR INDIAN FARMERS:
Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Earth Science
02-June-2015 15:20 IST
Dr Harsh Vardhan Says – “It’s not Just an Unusually Hot Summer, It is a Climate Change” Continue reading “Dams, Rivers & People News Bulletin: June 1, 2015”
“Right now, hydel is almost stalled”: Piyush Goyal (18 May 2015)
Union Power Minister makes some candid comments on Hydro: “Right now, hydel is almost stalled. We have Teesta stuck for various reasons. Subansiri, Maheshwar, Lower Subansiri, all of them have different challenges. Small hydros are facing challenges of transmission, they are facing challenges of local area problems. So, by and by, the hydro sector will need a more holistic thinking. The courts have also taken up certain matters, particularly in Uttarakhand, post the tragedy (of floods in 2013). There is the mission of Ganga to ensure that there is a reasonable flow—Aviral Ganga, which we are committed to. We are working on all of these plans… For example, Subansiri had an issue where the local population had concerns. We immediately got an eight-member very, very high-level expert committee, including Central Water Commission, Central Electricity Authority, and experts from Assam. They are all working together to see the environmental impact, structural impact, riparian state impact and riverbed impact.
Clean roads, lush green farms and wells having water even at the peak of summer is what one notices when one enters Gawdewadi Village of Ambegaon Taluka in Pune Distrct.
Ralegan Siddhi and Hiware Bazar villages of Maharashtra are two widely discussed success stories of sustainable village development through soil and water conservation works. There are however lesser known success stories of equal caliber. Gawadewadi is possibly one such story. Participatory soil and water conservation work started for improving water availability in the village for drinking and agricultural purposes has led to multiple other initiatives like cooperative dairy, gobar gas plants for the households, horticulture etc. A chain of benefits has unfolded over more than ten years of hard work put in by the villagers. The village is now tanker free, crops have diversified, agricultural production has gone up and so have income levels. Most rewarding benefit has been the homecoming of more than 165 families which had migrated to Pune or Mumbai in search of work.
Gawadewadi has successfully demonstrated how small scale ‘active solution’ of participatory soil and water conservation works can become a successful alternative to large scale ‘passive solution’ such as building dams.
The success story is even more important in the context of changing climate. The Working Group II of Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its report titled ‘Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability’released on 31st March 2014[i][ii], acknowledges that Ecosystem Based Adaptation (EBA) to Climate Change (such as soil and water conservation works) is a lower risk option as against engineering solutions (such as dams) as their application is more flexible, more responsive to unanticipated environmental changes and is more cost effective & sustainable. It also acknowledges that building large dams is not a climate friendly option. The report further states that EBA may contribute to achieving sustainable development goals (e.g. poverty reduction, sustainable environmental management, and even mitigation objectives), especially when they are integrated with sound ecosystem management approaches.
In this regard the success story of Gawadewadi assumes greater importance.
Journey towards sustainability
Gawadewadi (Ambegaon taluka, Pune district) with a total area of 1243 Ha is a village located about 10 km away from Manchar on the Pune-Nashik road and 70 KM away from Pune city. It is a rainfed watershed lying in the rainshadow region of Maharashtra state (Figure 1[iii]). Average annual rainfall is about 500 mm. The terrain is mostly flat. Southern boundary of the village is hilly which flatten in central and northern portion. Out of 1,243 ha of land 878 ha is cultivable. Most of the families in this village are small land holders. Current population of the village is about 3190. After drought of 1972-73 the village was dependent on tankers for drinking water during summer, agricultural productivity was low and a large number of people had migrated to Pune and Mumbai in search of employment.
In 1985, residents of Gawadewadi with local leadership of Anna Pimpale visited Ralegan Siddhi village in Parner taluka of Ahmednagar District. Impressed by the holistic development of the Ralegan Siddhi the residents were determined to transform Gawadewadi. Vanarai, a voluntary organization based in Pune that was approached by the villagers agreed to act as a catalyst in this process of development. Soil and water conservation works started in 1991. Technical inputs needed for the watershed development works were given partly by Irrigation Department and partly by Agricultural department. Along with these funds no grazing and no cutting of trees was diligently followed. Since there are no landless cattle breeders following no open grazing regulation was easier.
|2||Loose Boulder Bunds||03|
There are four catchment areas spread over 1400 Ha. Adopting top to bottom approach for watershed treatment Continuous Contour Trenches (CCT) (Figure 2), loose boulders and stone bunds were constructed on the ridges; soil bunds, cement bunds, gabion structures and percolation tanks were constructed at the bottom of the catchment. CCT works on the ridges is carried out by forest department. Under social forestry programme Village Panchayat has planted 1,10,000 trees on 34 acre land. Table above lists the existing watershed structures.
Total expenses incurred for the project were Rs 60 lakh for construction of watershed structures and Rs one lakh for trainings. This money was spent during first 5 to 6 years of work during 1991-97 and funded by various government departments like Agriculture Department, Social Forestry Department, Ground Water Survey and Development Agency and also by Vanarai.
Water availability has slowly increased. After the great drought 1972-73 the village survived entirely on tankers post February every year. Government had to send two to three tankers per day to cater for drinking water. The village is now completely tanker free. Wells that had no water after December earlier now have water even at May end (Figure 4). Earlier the only crops harvested were bajra and jowar. Farmers could barely cultivate once a year. Now the crop diversity includes tomatoes, potatoes, groundnut, wheat, sugarcane etc. Village also produces export quality custard apples, pomegranates and grapes. Farmers take three rounds of crops in a year instead of one. The village now has irrigated area of 150 Ha. In 1991, 500 people from the village were daily wage labourers. Now there are nil. Area under horticulture was 11 Ha in 1991 which has now increased to 142 Ha (Figure 5 & 6). Increased fodder development resulted in increased milk production. Milk collection which was 200 lt per day in 1991 has gone up to 12000 lt per day. The village experienced no scarcity of water in drought of 2012. Domestic demand for water was unaffected by drought. For agriculture the usual round of water is once in 10 days which had to be adjusted to once in 20 days during the drought. “We did not even realize that there was a drought” says Jaywant Gawade a villager.
Vanarai has played a role of facilitator. It coordinated the local officers of various ministries & departments and pooled different resources to make them available to the village. Vanarai awakened the local leadership and conducted training programmes for developing different skills and also worked for empowerment of women and youth.
Watershed development worked as a platform for the villagers to come together. With resources made available from Vanarai the participatory initiatives soon diversified to other livelihood generating and development initiatives. Following footsteps of Ralegan Siddhi the village followed the principles of ban on alcohol, no use of axe, no grazing, shramdan and family planning. Latrines were constructed in all the households. Biogas plants have been constructed in 265 households and latrines have been connected directly to the biogas plants. Entire cooking for all these families is taken care of by biogas. Increased fodder availability has made it feasible to rear cattle and thus has ensured the availability of cow dung. There are 13 women Self Help Groups (SHGs) involved in activities like sericulture, vermi composting etc. The village now has nine dairies. These dairies were actively functioning till 2-3 years back. The milk collected was sent to Katraj Doodh Sastha (Pune). Since last two three years private milk product companies collect milk from individual households and pay for the same. Villagers opted for this as it is a more convenient option. In 1994 the villagers established Hirkani Vidyalay, a local school with contribution from village. The momentum of village development which geared up 10-12 years back is still very much alive. Currently Vanarai is involved in improving the marketing of agriculture produce. The villagers now want to focus on improving the agricultural practices. After increase in the water availability the cultivated area under sugarcane has also increased. Currently the area for sugarcane cultivation is 60% of the total cultivated land. The sugarcane is sent to Pargaon Cooperative Sugar Factory. The factory has been existing for last 15 years. About 90% of the sugar cultivators from the village are members of this sugar factory.
This is a matter of concern in such low rainfall area and it has intensified the water use. With this realization the villagers are slowly shifting towards drip irrigation. They are also keen on learning sound crop water management and organic farming practices. Data for the current water use and ground water levels for past few years could not be available for this study.
Dynamics with Dimbhe dam
The village was self reliant in terms of water availability four to five years prior to irrigation canal provided by the government. Right Bank Canal (RBC) of Dimbhe dam which was constructed in 1997 passes through the village (Figure 7[iv] & 8). Dimbhe dam was filled to capacity in 2000, submerging 2202 hectares land of tribals in the Ambegaon taluka. 1253 families had to shift out, 11 villages were submerged fully and another thirteen villages were partially affected. Villagers inform that there is no fixed schedule followed for releasing water in RBC of the dam. The Left Bank Canal (LBC) constructed in 1987 has water throughout the year since it carries water downstream to Yedgaon dam[v]. However RBC receives water only thrice a year. The latest round of water release, as I write this was in February 2014. The water lasted for crops for about 30 to 35 days. The next round of water was due in May 2014 which is yet to be released. Agricultural fields only in the belt of 200 ft on both the sides of canal are benefitted. Villagers inform that in absence of watershed development work, coping with summer solely with canal irrigation was impossible.
Dimbhe Dam and its RBC share some more interesting dynamics with the village. Gawadewadi has hosted more than 70 families which were displaced because of Dimbhe Dam. Villagers point out that these families are a classic example of how the displaced families often remain away of benefits of the dam. The displaced families stay more than two KM away from the RBC and have no access to water from RBC. They were given land for land around 20 KM away from the houses that were built for them in Gawadewadi. Many of them sold the lands given to them under rehabilitation package as commuting was a problem. Problems of Dimbhe dam that have interface with Gawadewadi may just be a tip of ice berg. Even so these links with the government irrigation projects further highlight the need for participatory and decentralized water conservation.
Taking a close look at the development of Gawadewadi shows that the essential element behind success was the active public participation. This participation and ownership of the work resulted in completion of soil and water conservation works on 1400 Ha of area when no funding was available. This participation was also responsible for spurring of other allied developmental initiatives in the village which almost took a form of movement. Villagers voluntarily participated in various training programmes and diversified their livelihood options, improved farming practices, increased crop variety, increased milk production and in turn increased their income. In this sense such eco-system based works for conservation of natural resources like land and water become ‘active solutions’ as against the ‘passive solutions’ such as dams which come at a tremendous social and environmental cost.
It is worth noting that over 40% of India’s under construction dams are in Maharashtra. The state has spent about Rs 75000 crores over the last decade and will need to spend about Rs 76000 crores to complete the under construction projects[vi]. When Maharashtra is on such an irrigation spree, highlighting and replicating stories like Gawadewadi which demonstrate success of small scale solutions is definitely the need of the hour.
Amruta Pradhan, SANDRP, firstname.lastname@example.org, Photos by Author
Note: This article is based on field visit, accompanied by Vanrai in early June 2014.
[iii] Base map adopted from Wikipedia
[iv] Base map adopted from Google Maps
[v] Water from Yedgaon dam is further carried to Visapur dam and then to Karmala Dam.