A Unique Partnership to Boost Water Network

Posted on: Friday, March 20, 2015

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Degma village's population of over 1,200 on the picturesque ridge off Mohgaon Zilpi in Hingna taluka, barely 20 kms from this city, may not have to migrate lock, stock and barrel this summer. That has been its annual ordeal for years. With water sources drying up as summer simmers, villagers were forced to shift downstream to nearby villages looking for livelihood and fodder for cattle.

Along with Degma, Junewani, Mandavghorad, Nanda, Kinhi, Dhanoli, Hingna, Mangli, Ambazari and a dozen more villages shall hugely benefit from a water conservation project initiated by the Art of Living organization. "It was not planned at this scale. But as if by a divine conspiracy, all government agencies and public have come together willingly in a unique public partnership that is aimed at rejuvenating the Vena river through drainage network treatment of around 25km length of nullahs. The project is expected to dramatically enhance groundwater table in around 16 sq km (or 4,000 acres) in the first phase. The project is aptly named: 'Majhi Vena Majhi Ganga'.

The project launched on February 11 has shown a remarkable speed in execution in the first week itself. "The pace as well as quality of work is unbelievable," said chief executive officer of Nagpur Zilla Parishad Shivaji Jondhale. He along with district agriculture superintendent Archana Kadu was pleasantly surprised on Tuesday when they toured the site for inspection with their official teams. Tahsildar Raju Ranvir, block development officer T Junware were also present. An elated Jondhale admitted candidly that work for which they would required to spend Rs 5 lakh was done in Rs 50,000. He immediately offered to provide one more excavator and allowing the machine staff to work in double shifts at the government expense. Kadu's department has agreed to chip in with expenses for fuel for six excavators that are working at the different sites.

Such type of cooperation from the government sector and joint effort with NGOs and public participation is not very rare. The Art if Living has good manpower network through its youth leadership training programme and initially planned to do the project at a smaller scale on its own. "When we approached Jondhale to secure approvals, he actually volunteered to join the action. First time BJP MLA of Hingna, Sameer Meghe, also willingly joined hands with us. So we split the expenses of two excavators each. The Meghe Foundation which has a good presence in the social sector in rural Nagpur is contributing for the cause," said Art of Living's Murli Demble.

"Hingna is the largest taluka of Nagpur district. While working here we noticed the water crisis that villagers suffered and wanted to help them out. There are so many natural advantages for a better management here. But the changing rainfall pattern in which the whole rainfall volume of the season descends in three weeks instead of three months led to faster runoff sans seepage thanks also to ill kept network of nullahs, bandharas and general disinterest of villagers," explained Manish Badiyani, apex body member of state AOL unit. So AOL got hydrogeological survey, technical and engineering studies done before starting the project.

"After extensive mapping it was decided to take up the Junewani and Degma steams on priority basis," said Sandeep Shrikhedkar of Images who has volunteered with mapping and work. "Once the work is completed by June first week when the rains arrive, the trained villagers will take up the ownership of maintaining the canals and wastewater weirs," said Mukul Chimote of AOL.

"This is unique. I have never seen such a pooling of synergies and efforts for a common cause," said progressive farmer Nitin Kuhite of Mangli village. His family owns a vast chunk of land in the area. "With proper bounding and flowing nullahs, my farms will not be inundated during heavy rains," hoped Rahul Nighat, who has 10 acres of farm at Kinhi.

Sarpanch of Degma Pravin Khade is more than happy. "People in my village will no longer be required to migrate in summers," he chirped thanking the AOL, the ZP officials and Meghe.

Source: TOI

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