Pride of Doon
Figures first. Crop yield in Doon Valley has increased by
18 per cent. The area under vegetables and new cash crops has expanded. The income from
cultivation and milk production has increased by 40 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.
In nine years, the Doon Valley Integrated Watershed Management Project (1993-2001) has
helped in the regeneration of the ecosystem, while also enhancing the living standards of
The project adopted a participatory approach and Gaon
Resource Management Associations (GAREMAs), were set up in 353 villages for coordinating
and implementation. Its membership extended to all the adult members of the households in
the village. It took time for the locals to adjust and reorient themselves to this new
approach, as till then they were used to subsidies and single-sector interventions. A
villager said, "At first, we treated the project as something of a joke. After seeing
the work and the way our women have come forward and progressed, we realised its
During the implementation period, self-help groups for
women,revolving credit funds, habits of reciprocal obligation were initiated among the
stakeholders to strengthen the communal bonds.
As awareness increased, the garemas assumed
ownership for project activities. In 1997, to enhance the gains made by
Garema, the focus shifted on common economic enterprises by combining villages in a
cluster - leading to the formation of COREMAs (Clusters of resource management
A formal recognition has facilitated Garemas interaction
with the panchayati raj institutions, which will now continue to provide support.
Keith Virgo and John Roe 2001, Why was Doon Valley project a success?, National workshop
on Watershed management strategy for Uttranchal, Watershed Management
Tackling water scarcity
In recent times, the increasing competition between water
users has made it imperative that states, instead of going for ad hoc measures, adopt an
integrated approach to balance demand and supply for water. Some steps taken by states
like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Andra Pradesh are commendable, but their long-term
impact is yet to be gauged.
To enhance water supply, the Pulianthope Ward Committee in
Chennai has made rainwater harvesting (RWH) mandatory for all buildings. "To get the
tax assessment, water and electricity connections, the residents of that particular
building must harness rain."However, unlike Chennai, the Banglore Mahanagara Palika
has made RWH mandatory only for upcoming residential and commercial structures.
Besides this, in many areas like Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh
and Rangareddy district, Andhra Pradesh, digging of bore wells within a distance of 150
meters have been completely banned to control unregulated groundwater extraction. In
Kothagudem, Tamil Nadu, prior permission of the village secretaries has to be sought
before digging new wells and a distance of 250 feet has to be maintained between two bore
wells. Goa has moved a step ahead with the states governor signing the
Groundwater Regulation Bill, 2002 , facilitating the setting up of a
Among the initiatives for managing demand, rationing and
pricing are most popular. In Banglore, the hike in charges for water supply are a part of
the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) plan to regularly revise these rates
in a phased manner to bring them in line with the cost of providing water. Till recently,
says Vidyashankar, Chairman of the BWSSB, "Whenever, there was a rise in power rates,
water tax was also hiked as the cost on power comprises 6065 per cent of the total
But is water pricing a feasible measure to limit demand?
Yes, depending on the way it is implemented. BWSSB revised the rates keeping in mind the
paying capacity of different income groups, unlike Mumbai, where slum dwellers have to pay
50 per cent more tax while industrial units are exempted from the hike. Another instance
is that of Rajasthan, where the government after signing a Rs 734 crore loan agreement
with the World Bank decided to abolish the subsidy on irrigation water, leading to a 400
per cent increase in user charges. Such measures, if handled inefficiently could result in
This is a story of the women of Gauraiya village in Sagar district, Madhya Pradesh,
who, rewrote their destinies through their willingness to change. Their village like any
other village in the region was water scarce. Women had to walk long distances to get a
bucket of water.
In 1997, with a little help from the Rajiv Gandhi Watershed Management Mission, these
women formed a village women watershed management committee in a multi-caste feudal
village, which was once a wretched stretch of barren land. Today, the fruits of their hard
work are there for all to see. There is a potable water source within the village and
productivity levels have improved. Added to that, social fencing has ensured the survival
of about 90 per cent of the 5.5 lakh trees planted on common land, including about three
lakh teak and two lakh bamboo trees.
That is not all. These empowered women also run seven saving groups that help them live
life on their own terms.