Revival of ‘Vasant Bandhara’ – a forgotten Water-body

Kumbefal Village, Dhad Taluka, Buldhana District, Maharashtra

In 1971, a Spring dam ‘Vasant Bandhara’ was constructed on the Belandi river with an irrigation capacity of 160 hectares. For a long time, it was not maintained and in recent years when the river dried-up, the dam’s condition also became miserable. It was lying almost at the verge of dying causing thousands of farmers to face water scarcity.

 In 2018, when the State Government of Maharashtra and Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana initiated ‘Sujalam Suphalam’ the revival work of the bandhara was also taken up.

It took 484 hours to excavate 23,084 Cu. M. of silt to bring back the spring dam to its original shape. The revival of the bandhara was astonishing for everyone. The dam’s water holding capacity increased to around 2,30,85,756 crore litres.

Dam’s rejuvenation not only resolved the problem of water scarcity in Kumbefal village, but also helped 41 farmers to enhance their soil’s health. In around 46 acres of farmland the silt was applied to replenish top soil. The revival of the ‘‘Vasant Bandhara’ brought immeasurable happiness in the lives of the villagers!

Women in Phanepur Village Proudly Supporting Families Through Kitchen Gardening

Phanepur Village, Lohara Taluka, Osmanabad

Phanepur is a beautiful village with a population of 668 persons, that is situated in Lohara Taluka. The total area of ​​the village is 658 hectares. BJS and Tata Technologies Ltd. have implemented a water conservation based project in the village.

It is seen that, nowadays markets are full of fruits and vegetables, which have chemical fertilizers that tend to endanger the health of everyone.  The project aimed to improve the health and income of the farmers by helping them to grow fruits and vegetables. The vegetables have been grown basically in a kitchen garden based model to provide fresh vegetables to the markets.

‘Sujalam Suphalam – Integrated Water Conservation Project’ is an attempt by BJS and Tata Technologies to empower the local village women. This was done meticulously in a phased manner. First the women were sensitised and trained to grow the kitchen gardens. This meant numerous meetings were held with the sarpanch of the village, the women groups and other women of the village. They were taught how to do the upkeep and protect their gardens from any bugs and diseases.  And the benefits of the kitchen garden were also shared.

Vegetable and fruit seeds were distributed to women like beans, caraway, milk gourd, chilli, okra, radish, tomato etc. The women took care of the plants and provided regular water.

One of the beneficiaries, Ms. Nannumma Feroz Mulla, shared that she has 4 persons in her family and they work as agricultural labourers for their subsistence. Their total annual income is Rs. 20,000. It costs Rs. 600 per week to run the family by buying vegetables from the market, whereas their monthly income is Rs.3,200 only. Now due to the Kitchen garden the monthly income has increased to Rs. 3,500.

With the provision of proper guidance, the plants have grown into healthy vegetables. This has helped the families to save money. Saving money has improved their financial status and given the women confidence to continue to work. 

Improved irrigation whip-up farmers to Grow Vegetables

Shivani Armal Village, Deulgaon Raja Taluka, Buldhana District, Maharashtra

Deulgaon Raja taluka in Buldhana district has several check dams in its respective villages. The farms depend on individual wells and also on numerous earthen/mati nullah bandhs (mnbs) and cement nullah bandhs(cnbs) for irrigation.  There are only 1-2 borewells here. The entire taluka has been facing water scarcity for years.

Under its Sujalam Suphalam Buldhana programme, the Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana (BJS) worked on 4 check dams in this taluka, desilting, deepening and widening them in the respective villages of Andera, Shivani Armal, Mendgaon, and Vanegaon. Approximately 3,93,062 Cu.M. of silt removed from the respective dams ended up enriching 302 farmer’s fields, while increasing the water-holding capacity of the respective reservoirs by 39,30,61,481 Litres. As a result, in spite of deficient rains, the check dams in Andera, Shivani Armal, Mendgaon continued to be full well into summer.

Since farmers cleared off all the silt to spread on and enrich their farms, the villages saw good yields of kharif soyabean, cotton and tur, besides chillis.  Some farmers in the taluka have been growing organic vegetables since the last few years. Tomato, bitter gourd, and ladies finger have become popular, owing to the prices they command in markets. The silt further improved yields and quality of the produce, with the help of improved irrigation from wells.

Owing to the lack of rain, and a severe groundwater problem, farmers had been weaned away from food crops in the recent past. Vegetables and fruit had started disappearing from farms in favor of cash crops, save for a few patches here and there. The enriched farms are seeing several farmers returning back to growing vegetables on their farms.

Water Conservation Intervention ensured Year-Round Water Availability

Gorvha village, Barshitakli Taluka, Akola district, Maharashtra

Gorvha, a village in Barshitakli Taluka of Akola district is spread in 608 hectares and has a total population of 1,245 people (as per Census 2011). There are about 307 houses in the village. 

It was one of the water-scarce village in Akola district, facing chronic shortage of water due to drought.  The water table had gone to such an extent that villagers could not even fetch water for 30 minutes in a day using a water-pump. Especially during summer, the wells and bore wells went completely dry. This was the situation in the village until Bharatiya Jain Sanghaatana brought a much-needed intervention ‘Sujalam Suphalam’ in 2018 which produced a meaningful turnaround. 

A time bound master plan of water augmentation was worked out to undertake desilting and deepening activities in 40 water structures including Compartment Bunding, Continuous Contour Trench (CCT), Contour Bunding, Deep CCT, Graded Bunding, Graded Contour Bunding, Nala/River deepening, Trench cum Mount, Water Absorption Trenches (WAT) and farm ponds during the period June 2018 till July 2020.

Total 77466 cubic meter of silt was excavated from these water bodies which was also used by farmers to enhance their farmland’s soil fertility. The intervention restored the water storage capacity by 7,74,66,219 litres of water in the village.

Rajesh Baburao Khambalkar, Sarpanch Gorvha, shared that BJS intervention ensured year-round availability of water for the Gorvha and brought back springs to their life. Prior to ‘Sujalam Suphalam’ intervention, acute water scarcity was the major constraint for agriculture but now the greenery is blossoming around!

Use of silt bring back glory in the farms

Wadgaonwadi, Lohara Taluka, Osmanabad

Wadgaonwadi, a small village with total population of about 1,307 peoples lies in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra that is known for its droughts. Situated at the highest point of the watershed area in the village, most of the land was barren and unutilized due to the unavailability of water.

In the village, a women self-help group were operational but was not as regular as it should be. Most of the members were engaged in daily wage work and had no regular source of income. Some women had land but due to the unavailability of water, it was rendered useless. Ms. Parvati Shivram Bahdule was one of them. To support her 6 members’ family, Parvati use to work as a laborer in nearby farmlands. She was in dire need to improve her financial situation.

In April 2019, Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana implemented ‘Integrated Water Conservation Project’ in the village. Self-help group were strengthened again through regular meetings and close communication with the village women.

During one of the meeting, Parvati understood the benefits of using silt to enhance soil productivity. She decided to use the silt excavated from village pond and to put her unused farmland back to use as earlier.

With the help of Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana and self-help group, she transported and deposited over 600 tractors full of fertile black soil on her 2-acre land and also added bunds to her farm. All this work was done in just ₹8500 whereas if she had done the same job at the market rate it would have costed her not less than ₹60,000‌.

“Parvati delightedly shared that with the half a feet thick layer of the fertile soil she would not require to add extra fertilizers for the next two years. She feels more confident as she can now work on her own farm and support her family in a better way.”

Rejuvenation of Dodda Kere Tank

Yadgir, Karnataka

Dodda Kere (termed as Big Tank or Big Lake in Kannada) was in existence, though shrunk during the 1930s. Partially dead and stagnated lake was a causing health problems in the area around. Drained Dodda Kere was also a concern for the farms next to Dodda Kere lake. The farms started looking grey instead of looking green.

The longpending desilting work of the reservoir was taken up in 2019 by Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana in partnership with the state government under ‘District-wide Water Conservation Project’ in Yadgir district. This was a wide scale initiative and continued for about two years. Farmers were mobilized to take the silt, the District Administration provided the fuel and BJS handover 16 earthmoving machines for the complete work of tank and runnel. In the first year, 2,55,252 Cu.M of accumulated silt from Dodda Kere tank was taken off by excavation. The runnel to tank was also cleared by desilting 4,26,198 Cu. M. of silt from the rivulet.

The success of this initiative was noticed during the following monsoon. The results were overwhelming and encouraging, as the storage capacity of tanks and rivulet increased by 6,815 lakh litres. After the first year of intervention the tank filled-up 60% by September however next year the time reduced by 3 months and the tank filled 90% in July only.  

The intervention helped in making water available and accessible to small and medium farmers in particular and benefitted other farmers as well. It resulted in diversification of high value crop and crop intensification. Other achievements that accompanied the project were reduced damage of the adjacent farmer’s field by storm run-off due to logging of leaves and other organic materials in the run-off.

Water Harvesting initiative saved Crop Damage and Increased yield

Takli Pote Village, Akola, Maharashtra

The village Takli Pote falls in Akola district situated in Maharashtra state, with a population 878. Villagers are predominantly dependent on rain-fed agriculture. Out of total population, 75% works as agricultural labourers while only 25% cultivators have their own farmland.

Katepurna river passes through the village and becomes flooded during monsoon season. Access storm water in the run-off was causing erosion in more than 100 acres of farm fields in the adjacent area.  Every year farmers had to face serious consequences due to this. Besides having floods every year, villagers had to face water scarcity in the summer due to lack of water harvesting initiatives.

Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana helped the villagers to harvest the excess water passing through the run-off and utilize it. Under the ‘Gram Panchayat Water Conservation Project’ two farm ponds were constructed and excess run-off water passing through the river was conserved for future use. This helped in reducing the volume and velocity of storm water runoff which subsequently helped in reducing a storm’s peak flow, thereby reducing the chances of streambank erosion.

After the arrival of monsoon these water harvesting structures started brimming with water. Water harvested in the ponds helped in sustainable farming activities around the area. 

The story of determination and perseverance of a village woman for Sanitation for all (#SDG 6)

Wadgaonwadi, Lohara Taluka, Osmanabad, Maharashtra

This is a story of determination and perseverance of a village woman, Smt. Savita P. Surwase to succeed against all odds. Savita stays in far-off drought-stricken village ‘Wadgaonwadi’, of the Lohara Block in Osmanabad district.

Her family for some time had been facing health issues and her children were falling sick very frequently. This was owing to the open drains and accumulated water that had given rise to the mosquito population in the neighborhood. There was a bad odor and unclean environment which led to high frequency of sickness amongst the family members. She had to spend a significant amount every month on doctor visits and purchase of medicine. This all changed after the adoption of a soak-pit structure that was made in her household compound.

Savita, attended the awareness camp organized by BJS for educating the women groups on the adoption of soak pit structures. When no one showed interest and was skeptical about the usefulness of soak pits, she understood the importance of it. After the meeting, Savita approached her husband and other family members, they disliked the idea and felt it was a waste of money, so instead of giving up, she decided to raise funds of her own. Knowing that going against the wishes of her husband and family will cause her a great deal of agony, she still did not budge from her decision and with the support from Tata Technologies Ltd. and BJS, she installed a soak pit outside her house.

Because of the soak pit, the wastewater which was flowing in the by lanes outside her house had stopped, grubbing all the diseases and bad odour that came with it.

The other women in the village witnessed this wonderful change and immediately started to follow on Savita’s footsteps and decided to build soak pits outside their houses too. Today, this women-led small initiative has not only helped make Wadgaonwadi village clean but by way of soak pits it is also helping them with the restoration of underground water.

The commitment and the courage of this woman who, despite many odds, with a single step, inspired all other women of Wadgaonwadi to adopt the soak pit model for their households is taking the world closer towards fulfilling “SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation for All’. 

‘Bharatiya Jain Sanghatna’ have constructed 486 soak pits in five villages of Lohara Taluka, Osmanabad under its ‘Sujalam Suphalam – Integrated Water Resource Management Project’ with the support of Tata Technologies Ltd..

River Desilting Turned the Fate of Neighboring 36 Villages

Buldhana District, Maharashtra

Marathwada has been recognized as a drought belt in the state since 2012. Deolgaon Mahi is the largest village in Deolgaon Raja taluka of Buldhana where “Khadakpurna dam” is situated.  It is one of the three major dams of the district serving around, 36 neighboring villages with storage capacity of 160.66 mcm water.

In 2018, the water problem in Sindkhed Raja, Deulgaon Raja and Lonar talukas was aggravated due to non-availability of water. It’s been years that the run-off of Khadakpurna river was cleared. Due to this the farthest village could hardly get the water. During rainy season obstructed water-flow also gets diverted from its natural path and damages the crops in the adjacent fields.

Gram Panchayat requested Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana to extend help under the ‘Sujalam Suphalam’ program. With the help of earthmoving machinery provided by BJS and fuel provided by Gram Panchayat, the choked path of the river was cleared for free flow of water.

The desilting work significantly helped in increasing the ground water level and the wells in the adjacent areas started brimming with water. Furthermore, in July excess water was discharged from ‘Sant Chokhamela Sagar Project’ into the Khadakpurna river.  With ample water available now, water problems of Shindkheraja and Deulgaonraja towns along with many villages in nearby talukas, has been solved.

The event also received well deserved publicity:

Moving Towards Ensuring Water Security in Every Field

Khaparwada Village, Murtijapur Taluka, Akola District, Maharashtra

Shri Narayan Devraoji Sarode is a resident of Khaparwada village, Murtijapur taluka, Akola district. For years, villages in Akola have been facing acute water shortage. Situation in the Khaparwada village was no different.

With the slogan ‘Stop water, Conserve water’ Gram Panchayat decided to initiate water conservation activities with the support of Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana. BJS provided JCBs and farmers contributed for the diesel and thus together they built many water harvesting structures. Farmers were happy that using only a small budget on diesel for a few hours they could create water harvesting structures in their own farms.

Narayan Devrao also constructed a farm in his field. He shared that at the time of water scarcity he could use the water harvested in his farm pond which resulted in unprecedented growth in his agricultural production. 

Gram Panchayat constructed Farm bundings which helped to stop the soil erosion. Heavy rains caused soil erosion in many places but the percentage in Khaparwada village was very less. Ground Water level has also increased due to all such water conservation activities conducted in the village. With all these initiatives the village is moving towards ensuring water security in every field. 

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