Drought and Water Harvesting


Different regions of India face severe draught every year. In 2016, almost eight states were under the grip of drought. Worst affected was Latur district  in  Marathwada region of Maharashtra. So acute was water shortage that government had to run water train to the water scarce region.

There was two aspects to the problem. One was immediate need to address need of food, water, job and in general survival till the water shortage resolved itself. Many well intentioned people had worked to solve the acute problem. Name of Nana Patekar had surfaced on the media. Nana Patekar had jumped into action to aid distressed people. He had formed NAAM foundation with his friend and fellow actor Makarand Anaspure. The foundation helps families of farmers that commit suicide due to crop failure, with money, food and clothing.

Second aspect was to bring about a systemic change about the way we manage our water resource, the way we farm and what we farm. Government of Maharashtra has started a program called Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyaan. As part of the program government is increasing water harvesting capacity and capability of villages of Maharashtra. Intent is to arrive at a drought free Maharashtra in near future, by 2020. Government created nulla bunds, compartment bunding, widened and deepend ponds and rivers, constructed of barrages along dams and channelised water through canals to irrigate agricultural lands.  

All this effort was being done with participation of local village population. So much so, villagers had raised funds to the tune of 250 crores and contributed towards the effort. Nearly 119877 works were commissioned in 6002 worst affected villages. Almost 85000 works were completed. Since the program started in 2015, the number of drought affected villages came down from 24000 to 16000. In many drought affected villages water did not dry up as fast as they used to. 

Government has a long way to go to arrive at drought free Maharashtra. Still, I think this is a step in right direction. Even Mr. RajendraSingh, noted water conservationist, has also praised governments effort. Government of Rajasthan, another arid state has decided to emulate Maharashtra model.

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