Drought tackled: Idea borrowed, success shared

Water conservation
Last Updated : 11 October 2019, 19:30 IST
Last Updated : 11 October 2019, 19:30 IST

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The region of Aland taluk in Kalaburagi, often described as a rain-shadow area, now presents a different picture.

Farmers in a select few villages of the taluk are no longer on the brink of despair or reeling under an unforgiving drought like the rest of the region.

The change in fortune is because of the Shirpur model of water conservation, which was replicated for the first time in Karnataka, thanks to B R Patil, a former legislator.

Friendly neighbour

The Shirpur model, which gets its name from Shirpur in Dhule district of north-east Maharashtra, is the brainwave of Amrish Patel, a politician; and Suresh Khanapurkar, a retired officer of the Groundwater Survey and Development Agency, Pune.

After its success, the Maharashtra government has implemented this angioplasty in water conservation across the state at a cost of Rs 1,700 crore.

Inspired by the project, Patil implemented it in his constituency on an experimental basis at a cost of Rs 22.59 crore. The Minor Irrigation Department is commissioning the project.

Under the project, a 56-kilometre stretch canal has come up. About 50 check-dams are being constructed.

The following words of Rajashekhar Gaddi, a progressive farmer from Madana Hipparaga village, sum up the transformation the project has scripted in the region: “It was hard for me to get a handful of water for four years. All the wells in the village were dry. None of the borewells had a drop of water. The project signalled a miracle. Wells are brimming with water; so also borewells.”

A few years ago, Gaddi had spent several lakhs for his farming without fruits. He was dependent upon a tanker to ensure water to his field.

“There was none to redress our problem. The establishment had turned a blind eye. It was a tough phase,” he recalls.

“I don’t think there will be problems this year for farming and drinking purposes,” he adds. The region received its first monsoon rainfall in the first week of July, 2019. Days after it, there were traces of water in tanks, natural canals, trenches and wells, which signalled the rebirth of the lifeline in the region.

Confident farmers elicit views that their farming ventures this year will be successful even if drought hits the region.

A few months ago, residents were forced to walk about five kilometres to draw a paltry daily ration of water. Vast agricultural lands had become barren. Farmers were unable to sustain crops throughout the year. The region received about 80 mm rainfall this time. As there was infrastructure to retain flowing water in the form of the model, every drop was utilised judiciously.

As drops of water entered deep beneath, water accumulated in the vast area.

As the model has recharge aquifers, birds, animals and livestock are slowly returning to end their thirst.

The construction works have been completed at Madana Hipparaga, Sarsamba, Kinni Sultanpur, Rudrawadi, Jambaga, Basavanna Sangolgi, Dhuttargaon, Padasavalagi, Sakkargi villages.

Though monsoon has mostly failed in the region, check-dam constructed as part of the project is brimming with water.

Wells have retained water up to 12-feet deep. Water from check-dams has been released to farm ponds. Water at the check-dams is ending the thirst of animals and birds.

Good to go

Farmers point out that there won’t be any problem till next summer ends even if the region receives up to 150 mm rainfall.

Gaddi has constructed a farm pond that can retain water up to one crore litres.

He has spent Rs 6 lakh for the project. Water from the check-dam flows to wells. He has a network to draw water from there to his farm pond.

“I plan to grow grapes, watermelon and drumstick. I think I can completely depend upon water in the pond,” he says. The tale of Arjun Sidramappa, a farmer from Madana Hipparaga, is different. He is one of the beneficiaries of the project. The canal under the project pierces through his farmland.

“We faced hardships due to droughts and intense summer. Availability of water has ended our woes,” he says. Siddalinga Kallashetty, a farmer from Savaleshwar, owns 28-acre land. He got three borewells drilled and dug up land for two wells, but attempts to get water failed. After the project, about 14 acres of his land has been irrigated. “Three borewells and two wells have been recharged as water in the check-dam has accumulated up to one kilometre,” he explains.

“I cultivated soybean, pomegranate and pulses. I plan to cultivate sugar cane,” he adds.

A rivulet at Madana Hipparaga was dry for several years. Construction of check-dam and subsequent accumulation of water have revived the rivulet. There is water up to four feet in the check-dam now.

“Another rainfall will increase the water level, ending the plight of people and animals,” Vithal Jiddimani, an elderly says.

He had failed as a farmer for the last three years due to water scarcity. The implementation of the project has changed the situation.

The canal under the project has retained water-recharging wells. According to Patil, there is no meaning in creating waterbodies by spending crores. There is a need to utilise available funds.

“The Karnataka farmers have been inspired by the model. The Maharashtra government has allocated funds in the budget. This should be implemented across Karnataka as it is sure to succeed,” he said.

According to residents, the model explores the prospect of implementing small, cost-effective water-conservation measures to beat water scarcity.

(Translated by Jagadish Angadi)

Published 11 October 2019, 19:30 IST

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