About this document: It is about a remote village named Kapshi in Maharashtra. A group of us from IIT Bombay visited the village to learn about the progress that was achieved there. This document is hosted on my website: http://www.it.iitb.ac.in/~gumma
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Backdrop: Until about three years back, the village was experiencing severe drought conditions with no water availability during the dry periods. It was inspirational to witness the way villagers transformed their conditions with self-belief and a camaraderie that is worth emulating.
1 Efforts towards water conservation
Kapshi experiences about 250-300 mm of rainfall every year, which occur in bursts of six to ten spells of rains from June to September. The water table of the region had dropped so low that the village reeled under severe drought conditions for three years an had to depend on the tanker water supply for their survival.
Egged on by the volunteers of ‘Art of Living’ foundation, the villagers made collective efforts to raise the groundwater level and store the surface water for lean periods. ‘Bandharas’ or small check dams of about three feet high were constructed along a long undulating terrain stretching about 20 km, which was identified as the route of water run-off during monsoon by the Civil Engineers of the Government. Shrubs and trees along its path were cleared. About 20 such dams have been built entirely by weekly ‘Shram-daan’ by the villagers.
There are two types of Bandharas :-
‘Kaccha-bandhara’- made up of layers of stones bounded by steel wire meshes to prevent their dislocation when faced with running water. Their primary purpose is to prevent hasty run-off of water thereby allowing it enough time for it to seep into the soil beneath. These measures have been helpful in raising the water table over a period of 2 years.
2)‘Pakka-bandhara’-constructed out of concrete and cement, they are about 3 feet high on the water facing side and 5 feet on the leeward side. The trenches between two such 5 feet walls are cement lined at the bottom to prevent seepage of water to the underground. The primary aim here is to store the rainwater for gradual subsequent use for farm purposes. It was built by government grant. However, by efficient measures employed by the villagers the job was done by spending just 2 out of 3 lacs sanctioned initially. The balance money is to be used for constructing two parallel dams adjacent to the main one to collect the subsequent overflows of water.
1 Wells and methods to augment underground storage
The villagers have carefully dug wells of about 35 feet depth that capture water during the rainy season as well as underground seepage. Each well is equipped with a small pump used to water the adjoining fields. Some wells are also used to supply drinking water round the year. The water in these wells is first treated with Potassium Permanganate (lal goli) etc. before being used. Incidentally, this was the first year when Kapshi had to not take recourse to Municipal tanker supply of water.
Apart from the wells a unique way of storing water was the ‘Underground Bandhara’. Using the knowledge of the terrain, and with the help of engineers from the Agricultural Department, a region of about 1 sq. km area under the surface was carved out for storing water that seeped underneath during the rainy season. To prevent run-off to lower lying areas and still deeper areas an L-shaped polythene sheet was layered along the storage area. The accumulated water could find its way to the nearby wells thereby providing replenishment to the wells from time to time. Apart from the Government grants some money was also provided by the ‘Art of Living’ foundation for these construction activities.(?)
Continuous Contour Trenches (CCT)
An example of first level water management, a wasteland of...