Today, the modernized world we call it is elucidated by having 4 lane roads, metro rails, shopping malls, skyscrapers, super fast cars and what not! We don’t even think and care about the environment, which we live in. Somewhere in this process of modernization, we have forgotten to respect and value the environment which provides us with the resources to modernize.
History has been the evidence, that in the Early Vedic period people used to worship nature as gods, for they valued their importance. Contrary to today the way we have been abusing it. Less than 25% of forest cover, depleting groundwater level, Air Pollution, Climate Change, Garbage Disposal and Sanitation, Loss of Biodiversity are a few results of the same.
India being an Agrarian economy is highly dependent on rainfall and stable groundwater levels. One of the major challenges that our farmers face is droughts and water shortage which has led to a prodigious increase in cases of farmer suicide in the recent years. Data states that over 23,000 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra between 2009 and 2016.
To study as to how one can counter droughts and be prepared for the worst, I along with the NGO ACWADAM went to Randullahbad village in the district of Satara which has proven to be a remarkable example for groundwater management. Over the years, the village has accepted the PGWM (Participatory Ground Water Management) strategy which the NGO has been imparting to them for a long time.
PGWM is a method of educating the resource stakeholders on the governance and management of the resource.
The training was welcomed with open arms, this was due to the progressive thinking and efficient leadership of then Sarpanch Dr. Prajakta Jagtap, who’s a smart, confident and a visionary woman. She was amicable enough get all the farmers together and pass the decision to ban borewells in the complete village area.
ACWADAM has adopted an all-encompassing strategy, they have installed a composite weather station for reliable data. This weather station provides hourly information for weather, wind, rainfall and daily data for evaporation. This provides reliable data on evapotranspiration of soil and plants.
The emergence of this strategy is vigorously reliant due to the enthusiasm and cognizance of the village Panchayat and the farmers for the continuity of groundwater management
The villagers also played an important role in making this mission work. In 2010, they started a system of alternate day water supply, thereby adopting a major behavioral change for the long-haul sustenance of groundwater assets. The wells are dug in such a way that the deepest well is only for drinking water, which means one central drinking water well for the whole village.
The effort that started in 2010 has shown its impeccable results today. Now the wells never run dry in Randullahbad. In the last severe droughts of Maharashtra, Randullahbad was hardly affected. The system created initially for water management has enabled the creation of a platform for microfinance, women empowerment and equitable distribution of resources.
It is due to the untiring efforts of the NGO ACWADAM and Dr. Jagtap who have made Randullahbad a model for sustainable development in a village, or a real definition of a smart village as I may term it. Nearby villages have been inspired by Randullahbad and for the prosperity and growth of the nation this concept should spread all across India, for “The Earth is all we have in common”.
(With inputs from Angad Nayyar)