Drought unites peo­ple

1,300 drought-prone Ma­ha­rash­tra villages build wa­ter­shed struc­tures on their own to har­vest ev­ery drop of rain this mon­soon NIDHI JAMWAL |

Down to Earth - - GOOD NEWS -

EV­ERY DAY at six in the morn­ing, more than 400 res­i­dents of Ma­ha­rash­tra’s Ki­rak­sal vil­lage head for the sur­round­ing hills, packed in trac­tor trol­leys. As soon as they reach near the hill­top, they be­gin dig­ging the hard soil. “We only have a month left to fin­ish the wa­ter­shed works so that we can drought-proof our vil­lage. This mon­soon, not a sin­gle drop of rain that falls on our vil­lage should go waste,” says Amol Katkar, the 28-year-old sarpanch of Ki­rak­sal that falls in the drought-prone Maan taluka in Satara district.

“Dur­ing mon­soon, sev­eral nul­lahs flow down the hills around our vil­lage. So we de­cided to vol­un­tar­ily spend three hours ev­ery day (shram­dan) to con­struct wa­ter har­vest­ing struc­tures that will hold rain­wa­ter, re­plen­ish the ground­wa­ter and stop soil ero­sion. This will in­crease soil mois­ture, raise wa­ter table in our wells and help us tide over peak summer months,” says Amol, who was elected last year.

The in­ter­est­ing as­pect of this vol­un­tary ini­tia­tive is that it is con­cep­tu­alised, planned and ex­e­cuted by the peo­ple, without any help from the govern­ment. In Jan­uary this year, the gram sabha (vil­lage coun­cil) passed a res­o­lu­tion to adopt wa­ter­shed man­age­ment prac­tices in Ki­rak­sal. In March, Amol, along with four other res­i­dents, in­clud­ing two women, at­tended a four-day train­ing pro­gramme on wa­ter­shed man­age­ment or-

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