A question of will

Water Conservation
Last Updated : 25 October 2010, 13:17 IST

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“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” is not just an adage here. The Gujjannavar family has proved just that. The achievement of this family from Ontigodu in Mudhol taluk is no mean one. The family has spent nearly Rs one crore and built a tank in the village. This tank has provided irrigation facilities to 200 acres of land. Water from the river, eight kilometres away, has been channelised into the tank.

The family went on to build the tank in a record three months, with the help of 50 other people in the village. They fixed a jackwell and allowed the water from the Ghataprabha into the tank. The Gujjannavar family has shown that anything is possible if one is determined enough.

The tank, which has a capacity of 82 lakh litres has been built at an elevated spot. This means that without the use of electricity, water from the tank can be channelised into the 200 acres of land. Also, it has been ensured that water is not being wasted, and a proper system is in place to feed the 200 acres.

The family, which was fed up with the lack of proper facilities such as electricity and water, decided to build a tank on a one-acre plot belonging to them. The head of the family, Ramappa Sahukar, had always wanted to irrigate all the land the family owned and be self-reliant. But, his dream was not fulfilled. His sons Venkappa, Appasaheb and Hanamanth decided to pursue the dream on their own.

The whole family strove to build the tank, built out of red stone brought from Honnur in Belgaum district. The tank is eight feet high and construction was completed. It has been over a month since the tank has been completed.

The family plans to install a drip irrigation system. With this system, over 300 acres of land will be supplied with water. According to Govindappa, the water can be used for his fields, and the surplus water can be used by other farmers.

Gujjannavar’s family has taken up organic farming on 30 acres of land now. They have not used any form of chemical fertilisers on their land, and have thus ensured the nutrients in the soil are retained. The family aims to take up organic farming on the entire 200 acres of land it owns.

Thanks to the construction of the tank, the water table in the region has shot up and there is ample water in all borewells in the vicinity. The family hopes to increase their profits by growing sugarcane, cotton, wheat, sunflower, banana etc.
Farmers from villages near and far come to see the tank. Gujjannavar’s family has turned out to be a role model for other farmers.

A 100 pc RWH village

Meanwhile, another village in Sira taluk, Tumkur district, has quietly gone to become a 100 per cent rainwater harvesting village.

The Sachetana project sponsored by Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR), Government of Karnataka, is trying to address the issue of both providing safe drinking water and control of fluorosis through family-level RWH units. The project was conceived by the BAIF- Institute for Rural Development-Karnataka (BIRD-K), an NGO engaged in agriculture and rural development in Karnataka since 1980.       Fluorosis affected villages in Mundaragi taluk, Gadag district, Pavagada and Sira taluks of Tumkur district and Bagepalli taluk of Chikballapur (15 villages each in Mundaragi, Sira, Pavagada and 32 villages in Bagepalli taluk) were selected for this purpose.

The activities were initiated during 2004. As many as 3575 families have adopted RWH and have been using water for drinking purpose. The expenses for the construction of 5000-litre capacity RWH unit for a family of five members would add up to Rs 20,000. The participants have contributed 15 to 20%  from their end. The remaining amount is the project’s contribution. The community in Inakanahalli village of Sira taluk, Tumkur district, has participated actively and has gained the maximum benefit from the project.

Today, Inakanahalli is a 100%RWH and water sustainable village in Tumkur district. Here is the story of how the village was able to adopt RWH for all the households. There are 110 households in Inakanahalli village. Agriculture is the principal occupation for these families. The villagers were facing acute drinking water problem throughout the year.

Even though there was plenty of water in the community borewell, it was unfit for drinking owing to high salt and fluoride content. This forced all the villagers to depend on drinking water from a borewell which belonged to a well-to-do farmer in the village.
This borewell was located in his farm house. It became inevitable for villagers to visit his farm for drinking water. But, it became difficult for the farmer to provide water for all the households at the cost of his crops, horticulture etc. Fluctuating power  also contributed to this problem. This was the scenario before 2005.

Fully sustainable

Today, five years later, Inakanahalli is a 100% self-sustainable village in terms of its water needs. It is a village with 100% rain water harvesting (RWH).  One can see family level RWH units in front of each and every household. As many as 93 families have these RWH units. A plan for the remaining households is also ready but are yet to be implemented, as they are either under repair or constructing new houses.

However, these remaining families are getting rain water for drinking from their neighbours. In the beginning, the community was hesitant to opt for rainwater harvesting for drinking water purposes. Drinking rain water was new to them and there were a lot of taboos attached to drinking of rain water. Sensing this, the project team conducted exposure visits to similar projects in Pavagada taluk where villagers at CK Pura have already started harvesting and drinking rain water.

Inakanahalli’s residents tasted the rain water at CK Pura and interacted with project participants in that village. Slowly, RWH units started to take shape in the village. Iragyathappa was the first one to install a RWH unit in the village. This motivated others to go in for similar models. Women’s self-help groups (SHGs) provided loans to their members and non members to install RWH units. Today, the community is proud to show off its achievement.

The other activities envisaged under the project are excavation of farm ponds, recharge of borewells, recharge of aquifers etc. The aim of these activities is to dilute the fluoride concentration of underground water. Training and awareness about the maintenance of RWH units has been given to all participants as part of the project activities.

Regular monitoring of fluoride content (fluoride mapping) has also been done in selected drinking water sources. Arghyam, a Bangalore-based NGO has supported this part of the project.

Published 25 October 2010, 13:17 IST

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