May 11, 2010 4:13:37 am
Eleven years ago,people of Jamka village constructed 55 check dams without seeking any help from the government; today,they are functioning without any snag
Even as water crisis looms large in the region and sowing has reduced to half this summer in Saurashtra,farmers of Jamka village in Mendarda taluka of Junagadh district are busy cultivating millet,pulses,sesame and sugarcane over one lakh hectares.
The village has recorded 100 per cent cultivation this season. This is because water is available in bore wells to irrigate fields. Water is available at just 40-50 feet depth in bore wells. Most of the bore wells in the village are active and there is no water shortage, said village sarpanch Purshottal Sidhpara.
Besides,the water level in the two bore wells constructed by the nagarpalika to supply drinking water is quite high.
When many parts of Saurashtra are reeling under scarcity,Jamka village is somewhat unimpacted,thanks to the hard work the villagers did 11 years ago.
Mansukh Suvagiya,a farmer-turned-industrialist in Saurashtra,had then come up with a design of a small dam. He had convinced the villagers to build such dams on their own,with no help from the government.
A fund of Rs 45 lakh was raised by villagers for construction of small dams. In the summer of 1999,as many as 55 dams and five ponds were constructed in the village that has a population of little over 3,000. When it rained that year,the water level came up because of the check dams and the ponds,and the village could overcome the drought situation it had been facing for five years. The water table in the area rose from 500-600 feet to 40-50 feet. The villagers said the level has been like that ever since.
The drive by the villagers became such a success that the Gujarat government,considering it a model measure to deal with drought,introduced check dam scheme across the state and decided to fund 60 per cent of the total expenses.
Suvagiya,who runs Jal Kranti Trust,said: Even then,we were quite clear that it is our problem and we will solve it ourselves. For the same reason,the villagers agreed not to seek government help.
The 55 check dams built then are perfect in design and are functioning even after 11 years.
The villagers were involved in each and every aspect of constructing the check dam as they wanted their money to be used for the right cause. And that is the reason why we have check dams of such good quality, said Chunibhai Sidhpara,a villager.
Even today,the village has a committee to keep an eye on the maintenance of check dams and ponds.
A regular follow up is required to check for leaks or any other damage to the dams, said Sidhpara.
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