A class for the governors
Hope for Bhopal


What...err policy
A step towards a wetter tomorrow


Diamonds are forever
An oasis in the making
Small does matter


Water harvesting at Kinetic Engineering
Zero runoff technology
Preachers become practitioners



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Vol. 2                                    No. 4                              August 2000

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Diamonds are forever

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Resident of Padodar reaping the benefit of catching the rainwater

Mathurbhai Savani, a Surat-based diamond merchant from Khopala village is responsible for the transformation of this village from a water-scarce to a water-sufficient one.

Khopala is in Gharda tehsil of Bhavnagar district. The village has a population of about 4,000, with approximately 16,000 bighas of irrigated land. The entire area has been facing acute water crisis for drinking and irrigation purposes. During such adverse circumstances Savani initiated a water harvesting project in his village. As a result the intensity of the drinking water crisis has been minimised. After attaining success in his village, Savani is replicating this initiative in other affected areas. For a wider outreach he has institutionalised his efforts by constituting Saurashtra Jaldhara Trust (SJT).

During the time of water crisis, Savani was affected by the pitiable condition of his village, Khopala. He got involved in searching for a viable approach to address this problem. While studying the existing water problem in the region, Savani realised that there were basically two main reasons for the water crisis. First, was the overexploitation of groundwater by the villagers for irrigation purposes without ensuring recharge of the underground aquifer. Second, was the fact that approximately 90 per cent of the rainwater was allowed to wastefully flow to the sea without replenishing the underground aquifer.

According to Babubhai Jhabalia, resident of Gharda tehsil "Prior to the implementation of the project, Savani organised numerous village-level meetings to motivate and sensitise the villagers regarding the project". Throughout the process of social mobilisation, Savani projected the water problem not as an individual crisis, but as an issue affecting the entire village. Through his persistent efforts the entire village came together as a cohesive group and worked towards a common goal.

He initiated the process of fund collection from the village itself. Even a small farmer contributed his share of money, which was kept at Rs 300 per bigha, in addition to shramdaan. A total of Rs 48 lakh was collected through this process. The total collection was of Rs 2 crore. The remaining amount was collected from people who are settled in Mumbai, Baroda and Surat. The entire work was accomplished in a record time of six months. During the first round of rains in 1999 all the check dams got filled up, recharging the existing 200 wells and 200 borewells. Apart from the recharge of water sources, the village had a profit of Rs 7 crore from agriculture. Khopala has since then become a terath sthan (pilgrimage) for people who are interested in replicating the initiative.

Savani popularised drip irrigation technology in the village, basically to minimise the usage of water. Out of the 16,000 bighas of agriculture land drip irrigation has been installed in 4,000 bighas. In the coming year another 4,000 bighas of land will be covered under the scheme. Thus, in four years the entire irrigation in Khopala will be through drip irrigation system.

After achieving success in Khopala, Savani was interested in spreading the movement to other parts of Saurashtra. He once again mobilised the people from Saurashtra settled in Mumbai, Baroda and Surat to strengthen the initiative. On getting a positive response, Saurashtra Jaldhara Trust (SJT) was constituted in October 1999. The main objective of SJT is to work towards upliftment of communities in economical, social, agricultural and environmental context.

After the formation of SJT, the trust organised a pad yatra to spread awareness regarding water conservation in Bhavnagar and adjoining scarcity hit areas. The yatra was organised from 14th to 19th November 1999. Diamond merchants, social activists, eminent personalities, priests and village leaders took part in the village level meetings and shared their thoughts regarding water harvesting with the villagers.

This year also, SJT was proactively involved in providing assistance to villages under the state sponsored Sardar Patel Participatory Water Conservation Programme. SJT helped the villagers by providing 2,000 bags of cement free of cost. The remaining cement requirement was given at a discounted rate of Rs 105 instead of the existing market rate of Rs 130 per bag. SJT wanted to help only those villagers which could cohesively construct check dams in their village.

The future plan of SJT is to develop Saurashtra as a green and water crisis-free zone. According to a member of SJT "There are 78 rivers in the region carrying water into the sea. SJT is trying to develop a plan in which 5,600 villages of Saurashtra and Kachch construct check dams under the banner of SJT or otherwise". Apart from construction work, SJT would further intensify its educational and awareness raising campaign. They plan to educate villagers regarding frugal use of water while irrigating their agricultural land. They are also planning to popularise drip irrigation system in villages with the view of restrictive but constructive use of water.

For further information:
Babubhai Jhabalia
Saurashtra Jaldhara Trust,
Gharda Tehsil, Bhavnagar district, Gujarat
Mobile: 9825288198