By Prof. G.S.N. Murty
Sustainable Milli Watershed Management has emerged as one of the answers to enable the villagers to meet the burgeoning water problem. The initiative taken by the Deendayal Research Institute (DRI) at Majhagawan village in Chitrakoot has proved to be a trendsetter in this region. The results achieved are unique and an example for the rest of the country. People from the surrounding villages have already started such programmes on their own by witnessing the success of the project. People from various parts of the country also visit here to see and learn the technique. The success of the project lies in the people'sparticipation, motivated by the DRI activists, particularly the scientists from the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Majhagawan. The villagers having realised the advantage of the activity are voluntarily participating at every stage of the project.
The first step was the formation of the Watershed Development Committee consisting of nine members. Such committees, formed in 17 villages, were entrusted with the responsibility of executing and maintaining the project work. Training was imparted to the committee members on all relevant aspects like soil and water conservation, water harvesting, plantation, maintenance of records, etc.
The problems identified by the experts at this stage include low productivity of crops, insufficient water resources for irrigation and depletion of ground water-table, non-availability of even drinking water during summer months, degraded forest and vegetation cover, high rate of soil erosion and poor soil fertility, etc. The methodology implemented was an integrated approach towards the management of natural resources like land, water, vegetation, livestock and the environment to achieve sustainable development in this area.
This project covered an area of 12,536 hectares. The technologies adopted include digging of staggered contour stretches on the nearby hill slopes, field bunding to check soil erosion and to increase water conservation, building of loose boulder check-dams to collect the upstream sediments that maintain soil moisture for long periods, promoting the stabilisation of vegetation, creation of earthen check-dams to store water for percolation and irrigation which resulted in increasing the water level, increase in crop productivity and availability of drinking water during summer, and contour trenching on the hillsides to reduce the velocity of runoff water, etc.
The project was executed in 18 villages. The impact of watershed management on checking the soil erosion and harvesting of water can now be seen in every water-harvesting structure from the ridge to the valley. It increased productivity of crops and generated employment potential through the increased use of land under cultivation and the formation of self-help groups. Besides, a total of 287 rural youth became self-reliant and about 78 self-help groups were formed in these villages. A 1,28,000-plant nursery was established. The Samaj Shilpi Damapati (SSD-graduate couples) played a vital role behind the scenes and did all that was necessary to make this project a success.