December 2002-January 2003
|Common sense, makes sense
Chewang Norphel, a retired engineers,
initiative to harvest water through zings (ponds) and artificial glaciers has ushered in
water and greenery in the barren landscapes of Ladakh.
Falling in the rain shadow area of Himalaya, Ladakh is a cold, mountainous desert.
Glacier water is the only source of water, which is used by the people during summers.
Norphel found a solution in artificial glaciers. The technique is simple. During winters,
snow is collected through stone barriers and, diverted through earthen channels.
As part of the Leh Nutrition Project, Norphel has successfully completed 36 projects.
Besides, he has also made ten artificial glaciers,benefiting more than 15,000 people of 24
While proudly sharing one of his experiences, he said,"It took almost a year to
build an artificial glacier at Chamla village, With a water holding capacity of more than
one million cubic feet, it is serving about 3,000 people from four villages. To minimise
the cost, existing channels were desilted." Common sense, makes sense indeed.
Leh Nutrition Project,
Ladakh, Leh 194101
"The last time we had good rains was in 1997. But we will survive this drought as
well. By gods grace we have water", said Ram Karan, an old man of Laporiya
village, Jaipur, Rajasthan. Though the region is ravaged with drought, Laporiya gathered
to celebrate Dev Uthni Gyaras, a Hindu way for thanking the bountiful nature.
They also performed pooja at three village water tanks that are completely dry. One cannot
help asking what are the villagers grateful for? "These are the reason why there is
water in our wells. We collect whatever little rain we get. Without these, Laporiya would
have been history", shared Ram Karan.
About 189 families of Laporiya like, most of the other villagers of Rajasthan are
facing worst spell of drought but what sets them apart is the unflinching faith in their
water and soil conservation works.
Laxman Singh, GVNML, Laporiya, POGugardu,
Jaipur 303 008 Rajasthan
Jal bachao yatra
.Thousands of people from different villages in Junagarh
district, Gujarat, travelled 23 villages on foot to launch a campaign to revive Meghal
river, the main source of water for about 64 villages. Due to gradual neglect of its
catchment area, the river has been reduced to a seasonal drain. The yatra was organised by
the Aga Khan Rural Support Program (India), working in the region for more than 15 years.
From December 23 - 26, as the journey progressed, people of all age groups, kept joining
in. "When I saw them walking, I also joined. This is to save our village",
shared Meeni Behn, a 75 year old lady. The yatra traversed the two streams of Meghal -
Kalindri and Lathodaria then converged at Khorasa village where a public meeting was
organised. Gram Sabha meetings were organised to discuss various aspects of water
management. The journey concluded at Jund Bhavani Temple in Chorwad village, where people
vowed to work for the revival. Stream-based committees were formed, which will is working
out a strategy for making the river perennial again. A positive start.
kilometre (km) seacoast between Porbandar and Una, Gujarat, once popular for its greenery
and vegetation, is facing a serious salt ingress. It has increased from 1.5 km in 1948 to
15 km in 2002, destroying more than ten lakh hectares of arable land. The regions of
Junagadh and Gir forest are affected by this. This ingress is caused by excessive pumping
out of groundwater for both cultivation and industrial purposes.
Checking salt ingress
A local NGO, Saurashtra Paryavaran Saurakshan Parishad (SPSP), is working towards a
sustainable solution. By sensitising the affected village communities, ponds are being
built to collect rainwater. The parishad has also effectively used religious tenants to
get their message across. Nearly 22 environment guarding committees have been formed and
green guards have been appointed. These committees are concentrating on replenishing
groundwater through rainwater harvesting to check salinity. It is just a start.
Chandrasingh Mahida, SPSP,
Sondarda, Keshod, Junaghadh
Disaster Mitigation Institute (DMI), a
Ahmedabad-based NGO, recently studied the water usage pattern in 23 villages of Kutch,
Patan and Surendernagar districts in Gujarat. Following trends were observed. About 60
litres (l) of water is consumed at household level in summers, 48 l in monsoons and 45 l
in winters. Stand posts meet 41 per cent of the needs. Village ponds cater to 60 per cent
of domestic needs and to cattles. Village wells cannot meet the needs, adequately. Most of
the respondents confirmed that the authorities spend a substantial amount of funds, for
drought relief and the long term measures get neglected.