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Check Dams Are Bringing Prosperity In Water-Deprived Areas

The NITI Aayog recently commended the impact of community best practices for watershed management, in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

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For 57-year old Kalu, a farmer from Bachhauni village of Parsai-Sindh (a region in the Bundelkhand area of Jhansi district, Uttar Pradesh) doing farming brings much happiness today. Why? Because the yield of his produced crop is up by 50-65 per cent compared to five years ago. Instead of 6-7 quintals of produce in 2014, today the numbers are 10 quintals. Thanks to the construction of check dams and the renovation of the traditional water-harvesting tanks. These measures have drastically increased the storage capacity for rainwater (up to over 100,000 cubic metres today). These structures and the check dam together have also managed to raise the groundwater table by 3-5 metres benefitting crop intensification (from 80 per cent to 140 per cent) and thereby enhancing crop yield by 30 per cent in both Kharif and Rabi seasons. "Nearly half of fallow land in upland areas were also brought under cultivation with enhanced groundwater availability", says Rajeev Gupta, Project Manager at the Coca Cola Foundation. "Integrated Watershed Project has increased water availability and also promoted livestock activities among farmers, therefore, increasing animal population. These interventions have helped farmers increase their income through higher crop yield and more dairy production”, he adds. The foundation under its project is said to have constructed eight such dams and 15 farm ponds. They also claim to have recharged 100 wells across the area.        

The NITI Aayog recently commended the impact of community best practices for watershed management, in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, India. “Local community in the water-scarce Parasai-Sindh region of Jhansi, #UttarPradesh increased groundwater level by 2-5 meters and made 100 acres of land cultivable by constructing check dams, farm ponds and renovating existing structures in eight locations. #BestWaterPractices” – said a recent Facebook post from NITI Aayog’s handle.

The Parasai-Sindh watershed of Bachhauni block, Jhansi, has been jointly developed by Anandana, a Coca-Cola India Foundation under its Project Bhujal, ICAR (Central Agroforestry Research Institute), Jhansi and ICRISAT Development Center with the involvement of the local community between 2012 and 2016. The project focused on rainwater harvesting, productivity enhancement interventions and agroforestry work.

Renovation of traditional water-harvesting tanks and construction of check dams on a major stream in the village helped increase the storage capacity for rainwater to nearly 100,000 cubic metres. These water-harvesting structures saved over 200,000 cubic metres of runoff, on average, every year, raising the groundwater table by 2-5 metres. This benefited crop intensification (from 80 per cent to 140 per cent) and enhanced crop yield (20-30 per cent) and production, both in Kharif and Rabi seasons.

A few years ago, open wells were hardly supporting 1-2 hours of irrigation during Rabi season due to low water column and farmers, mainly women were spending 10-15 days or 40-50 hours to irrigate one hectare of wheat crop. After the construction of the check dams, now the majority of the wells are supporting round the clock irrigation and farmers complete the irrigation within a day (15-20 hours). The productivity of post-monsoonal crop specially wheat has doubled after the watershed interventions, says Gupta. In total, more than 250 such water replenishment structures including check dams, ponds have been built by the Coca-Cola Foundation across Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Another such example is the two check dams built on the river Bamani in Tontari village of Dholpur district in the state of Rajasthan.


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