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 |
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-