‘I can now give water to those who don’t have access to it’

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‘I can now give water to those who don’t have access to it’

Like millions of farmers in India, Sanjay Chandanse, a farmer in the Relgaon village of the drought-prone district of Jalna struggled with getting sufficient water for his crops. A small farmer, with a land holding of just 4.5 acres, Sanjay grew cotton, soybean, maize and wheat in the kharif and rabi seasons respectively. His main sources of water were a dugwell and the monsoon rainfall. Any failure in rain or erratic rainfall led to losses in kharif and no rabi crop as well. The rising number of dugwells was also leading to depleting groundwater levels.Sanjay’s situation and that of his village was no different from the countless villages in the semi-arid regions of India, where farming remains an uncertain, precarious battle with the elements. However, in 2017, Sanjay made a decision that broke this arid spell. He decided to become a part of a project for “Facilitating Communities for Responsible Water Management” supported by ORACLE and CAF India. This project, which aims to promote effective and sustainable aquifer level ground water management, is currently going on in 14 villages of Jalna district. Sanjay is one of the many beneficiaries.

Explaining how it started, Sanjay says: “I saw the desiltation work in a neighbouring village, taken up by Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) and the benefits this desiltation had brought the farmers. In my interactions with them, I came to know this had been done through local contributions. I decided that I would do this kind of activity in my own village as well.”

He explains “The stream near my farm is a major one as it feeds water to the percolation tank in the downstream direction. That stream had three existing earthen nala bunds which had silt deposition. It had become shallow and the storage was less despite the bund across it. Basically, it required desiltation so that it could be rejuvenated. I requested the representatives of WOTR and the Jalsevak to start the desiltation work. The work was then started on December 12, 2018 and completed on December 15, 2018.

The total cost incurred for the work was ₹65,100 of which ₹20,000/- was contributed by Sanjay and the neighbouring farmers. The Jalsevak ensured the quality of work through continuous supervision. The farmers themselves paid visits to the site, to keep track of its progress.

Giving some statistical information about the work, Sanjay points out that a volume of 4,101.5 m3 was created due to the work which would harvest 41 lakh litres of water in a single filling. A heavy shower on February 20, 2019, resulted in the desilted site getting filled in a short time and the water started flowing in. This quick shower resulted in rising of water level in the neighbouring wells. It was a proud moment of the farmers of Relgaon, to see with their own eyes the impact of the desilting work.

Sanjay Chandanse now says with satisfaction that the stored water would help in satisfying the domestic needs of nearby households. “I can now even give water to those villagers who don’t have access to it, and have had to travel long distances in the past to get it,” he signs off with a sense of pride.