Millenium issue of DTE


Interview of Union water resources minister


Water harvesting for food and water security
Realisation dawns in Dewas
Citizens of Dehradun unite
Necessity breeds ingenuity


Salinity control


Dugwells: a solution to the arsenic menace?
The arsenic effect





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Vol. 2                                    No.1                         February 2000

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Glimpses of books

Glimpses of books 

Neglect and Restoration of Minor Irrigation Tanks in Krishna District, India. A local - level case study of motivation, capacity and partnership interventions


Harnath Tadipally, Maruthibala publishers, Nuzvid, India, pp 288

Tanks are traditional earthen reservoirs constructed in dry upland reservoirs to store rainwater. Once the pride of Indian rulers, currently only about 50 per cent of these structures are in use. In a country that boasts of an agrarian economy, with forecasts of impending water crisis, it is strange that there is a declining trend in the use of tanks. Obviously the potential of minor irrigation works lies ignored.

This book examines the factors responsible for the neglect of these water bodies. It address three basic questions: why are the tanks of India lying dilapidated, are we ready to manage these currently state- owned minor irrigation sources and is there no way we can utilize rainfall better before it merges into the sea?

The book introduces the reader to the tank irrigation system: from the concept and status, to reasons for their decline, with specific examples from Nuzvid and Agiripalli mandals in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. Reasons for non restoration of tanks are examined. Political inclinations are assessed. To focus on an economic approach to the non-restoration of tanks, a hypothetical tank is created with cost-benefit analysis to examine the costs and benefits that accrue at the individual farmer level, community and larger context. The author correlates the ‘social capital’- based on defined criteria- of the village with their willingness to restore and manage tanks. The studies reveal a lack of confidence of the villagers in the state as well as in themselves, in working together and restoring tanks. However, in villages with higher social capital, optimism levels were higher.

The author describes initiatives taken by him along with the Society of Human Integrity and Prosperity in the dryland regions of Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh to successfully restore these tanks. The author views tanks, a common property resource, as the catalyst to bring communities together, and defines various criteria so that Mahatama Gandhi’s vision of village development can be realized.



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Hope for the millenium

In the face of dire predictions about the impending water crises CSE organised a public lecture on 6th January, 2000 to coincide with the release of the millenium issue of Down to Earth. The cover story of this issue was ‘Harvest of Hope’ (see section Campaign in this newsletter). The message of the public event was clear: it is possible to meet water demands by valuing rainwater and harvesting it through community efforts.

Hope for the milleniumEmphasising the need and the impact of community based water management, Anil Agarwal, director of CSE highlighted the impact of outstanding efforts of communities, who, in the face of extreme adversity, had brought about dramatic change in the ecology and economy. Not only did these efforts increase water availability, but also resulted in an increase in biomass availability, agricultural production and improved economy. These efforts also put a halt to distress rural- urban migration. He pointed out that drought and scarcity are not problems of availability but of management of the vital natural resource. According to him two historical discontinuities ought to be corrected : the replacement of the community’s role by government and the focus away from rainwater.

To present their first hand experience at community water management, were Hardevsinh B Jadeja, the sarpanch of Raj Samadhiyala village, Gujarat and Harnath Jagawat, director, of N M Sadguru Water and Development Foundation, a Dahod- based non government organisation.

Jadeja, recalled the conditions in the village 15 years ago, when Raj Samadhiyala village was declared a desert zone, where nobody wanted their daughters to wed men from this village. Today the situation has undergone a tremendous transformation, thanks to soil and water conservation. While parts of the state and surrounding villages are in the grip of drought, drinking water is not scarce in this village. There is water enough even for irrigation. This has been possible because the village community has been harnessing rainwater to meet their water needs. The villagers have built 52 check dams and planted trees. From 1,600 trees some years ago, the figures have now reached 15,000. Jadeja stated that his father’s annual income 15 years ago was Rs 1.5 lakhs from his fields 15 years ago. Presently Jadeja’s annual earning is Rs 10 lakhs.

N M Sadguru Water and Development Foundation have undertaken a similar initiative across 350 villages on the borders of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. 35 local rivers and rivulets are now perennial, not seasonal. According to Jagawat, in many places villagers have stepped in to take charge of planning as well as building their own masonry check dams.




President KR Narayanan has seen the efforts of Tarun Bharat Sangh in Alwar and is convinced

For further details please get in touch with us. If you would like to book a seat, let us know.

Contact person:
Indira Khurana/ Eklavya Prasad, Natural Resource Management Unit

Centre for Science and Environment
41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, NeW Delhi 110062
Ph: 011 26083394, 2608 1124, 26081125

Fax: 011 26085879

The CSE invites you to see for yourself the dramatic impact of community -based rainwater harvesting. Through pani yatras. Both, in rural as well as urban areas.

Pani yatras are guided tours being organised by CSE as the central secretariat of the National Water Harvesting Network, to areas where communities have managed water. Successfully. And shared the fruits of their labour.

A pani yatra will allow you to interact with the institution that has brought about community action, and thecommunities themselves.It will give you a chance to see for yourself water harvesting structures that have changed the ecology and the economy of the region. And brought about change.

Planned pani yatras include Jodhpur, Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Alwar, Sukhomajri, Jhbaua, Ralegan Siddhi and Chennai.