“Living in the rain shadow area with less than 400 mm of rainfall per annum has its blessings only when you know how to manage water,” says Shri Popatrao Pawar
“Formation of groundwater aquifers take thousands and lakhs of years. Economics could bring better understanding and results as compared to social punchlines” says Shri Umakant Umrao
“What Mecca means to Muslim brothers, Hiware Bazar means to Water professionals and Water Managers.” – Shri U. P. Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti
Sanjaya K. Mishra, firstname.lastname@example.org
23rd August 2019, New Delhi: National Water Mission (NWM), Ministry of Jal Shakti organized the 6th Water Talk on 23rd August 2019 at Andhra Pradesh – Telangana Bhavan, Ashoka Road, New Delhi. Two new speakers presented their case studies in the program.
Shri Popatrao Pawar, Sarpanch, Hiware Bazar, Maharashtra delivered an inspiring Talk through a thoroughly absorbing presentation on the topic ‘Hiware Bazar – A Water Budgeting model’.
Shri Umakant Umrao, IAS, Secretary, P&RD Department, Government of Madhya Pradesh and CEO, MPRRDA, Madhya Pradesh delivered a very powerful Talk on the topic ‘The Dewas Initiative: An economically viable and environmentally sustainable water conservation Model.’
Earlier, in his speech, Shri U. P. Singh, Secretary, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS); while introducing Shri Popatrao Pawar, said: “What Mecca means to Muslim brothers, Hiware Bazar means to Water professionals and Water Managers.” He also urged the audience to listen to Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Mann Ki Programme aired on 30th June 2019. If not the entire program, at least the 10-12 minutes, in which the Prime Minister has deliberated on water issues. The Secretary also deliberated on fact that Hon’ble Prime Minister in his 73rd Independence Day speech uttered the term Water for 22 times, which shows the focus of the Government on water. This signifies that there is a need for a paradigm shift in water resources management. Describing water audit in a very lucid manner, Shri Singh compared it with an individual’s bank account and financial planning. He also expressed the need to see how One Dewas and One Hiware Bazar can create Lakhs of Dewas and Hiware Bazar. Shri U. P. Singh, Secretary, DoWRRD&GR, MoJS, also shared his experience from Murcia, Spain that receives merely 400 mm to 450 mm rainfall but enjoys the identity of a vegetable hub of Europe. 100% drip irrigation with high technology to manage irrigation most effectively. Shri Singh stressed on the matter that young officers of all the departments in the Ministry must attend this program to learn and benefit from the speakers. He also said that the Water Talk program, though as not entertaining as the famous TV serials like Ramayan and Mahabharat, has no less importance too. On the line of Prime Minister’s clarion call, NWM has also made a practice of gifting a book “Water Catchers” to the distinguished speakers, instead of flower bouquets. As the Secretary had to leave earlier for a NITI Aayog meeting, the formality was scheduled earlier. However, Shri U. P. Singh joined back the program, after his meeting and also participated in the question and answer session.
“Living in the rain shadow area with less than 400 mm of rainfall per annum has its blessings only when you know how to manage water,” says Shri Pawar. Hiware Bazar, a village in Maharashtra’s drought-prone Ahmednagar district, was sliding into an abyss after degrading its environment. But in less than a decade it turned itself around into one of the most prosperous villages of the country. There was no magic wand, just common sense. It used funds from government schemes, to regenerate its natural resources–forests, watershed, and soil–led by a strong village body.
Shri Pawar described how the district social forestry program, in 1993, helped regenerate the completely degraded 70 ha of village forest and the catchments of the village wells. With labour donations, the panchayat built 40,000 contour trenches around the hills to conserve rainwater and recharge groundwater. Villagers took up plantation and forest regeneration activities. Immediately after the monsoon, many wells in the village collected enough water to increase the irrigation area from 20 ha to 70 ha in 1993. In 1994, the gram sabha approached 12 agencies to implement watershed works under the Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS). The village prepared its own five-year plan for 1995-2000 for ecological regeneration. The plan was the basis on which EGS was implemented. It ensured that all departments implementing projects in the village had an integrated plan.
In 1994, the Maharashtra government brought Hiware Bazar under the Adarsh Gaon Yojana (AGY). AGY was based on five principles a ban on liquor, cutting trees and free grazing; and family planning and contributing village labour for development work. The first work it took up was planting trees on forestland; people were persuaded to stop grazing there. To implement this, the village made another five-year plan. An integrated model of development with water conservation as its core was adopted.
The village invested all its funds on water conservation, recharging groundwater and creating surface storage systems to collect rainwater. The 70 hectares regenerated forest helped in treating the catchments for most wells; 414 hectares of contour bunding stopped runoff, and around 660 water-harvesting structures caught rainwater. The state government spent Rs 42 lakh under EGS in the village to treat 1,000 ha of land, at Rs 4,000 a hectare. It was money well spent.
Hiware Bazar is now reaping the benefits of its investments. It has become a role model for many villages and even foreign universities are coming for collaboration.
Shri Umakant Umrao, IAS, Secretary, P&RD Department, Government of Madhya Pradesh and CEO, MPRRDA, Madhya Pradesh delivered a very powerful Talk on the topic ‘The Dewas Initiative: An economically viable and environmentally sustainable water conservation Model.’ He said nearly Dewas is the place, where nearly 20 years ago, water was brought by train for the first time. The water table was varying up to 80 to 800 ft. In search of water up to 70 to 80 numbers of borewells were drilled per family.
Throughout India, more than 4 crore people drilled bore wells, because of the profit motive. During the last 30 years, Rs. 8 to 10 Lakh Crore spent on bore well drilling. If this amount could have been spent in rainwater harvesting, the scenario could have been different. On an average, India receives 35 crore hectare liter of rainwater, every year against a demand of 12 to 15 crore hectare liter water. Thus, India is a water surplus country. 75% of groundwater has been exhausted within the last 30 years, which was created naturally in a span of lakhs of years. And the remaining 25% could help us sustain for barely another 10 to 15 years.
He described how the term PROFIT was inculcated in water management practices and that worked successfully for Dewas district.
He stressed on the fact that “nearly 80% of aquifer based rivers have perished. The success of the Save Tiger Project should have been evidence of successful water management. However, the number of rivers we have lost over the years exceeds the number of tigers lost.”
Shri Umakant Umrao mentioned that his perception, in contradiction to widely perceived, the reason for any possibility of a third World War – could be soil and not water. In his speech, he said that silt management has significant importance and needs adequate attention.
National Water Mission (NWM) has initiated a seminar series ‘WATER TALK’ to promote dialogue and information sharing among participants on a variety of water-related topics. The aim of ‘WATER TALK’ is to stimulate awareness, build capacities of stakeholders and encourage people to become active participants to sustain life by saving water on earth. Sharing ideas among participants enhances knowledge, ensures consistent dissemination of information and builds capacities in better water management. The program is intended to be a platform to transfer knowledge, solve problems, brainstorm and promote teamwork among various participants. The WATER TALK program will also provide an opportunity of ‘learning something new’ and ‘broadening our perspective through the sharing of knowledge and experience.
Shri Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General, National Mission for Clean Ganga, Dr. C. V. Dharma Rao, Joint Secretary, and Advisor to NWM, Shri G. Asok Kumar, Mission Director, National Water Mission were amongst the distinguished officials from government, who were present in the event. The program was also attended by several professionals, researchers, educationists, NGOs working in the field of water resources management.
This article was published in the 39th Issue of Enviro Annotations www.enviroannotations.com
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