Once a parched land like Maharashtra’s Latur district, Dewas has now turning into a green patch and a haven for farmers, thanks to the irrigational tank (farm ponds) initiative of IAS officer Umakant Umrao.
Umrao, whose initiative was praised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Mann Ki Baat radio address on Sunday, solved the drought-like situation in Dewas with his campaign ‘Pani Bachao, Labh Kamao’ drawn on the lines of economics of water.
Posted in Dewas as a collector in 2006, Umrao taught farmers how to convert a part of their land into pond for irrigating the rest of their fields.
“When I first visited the place, farmers were facing hardship due to water crises. After touring the villages I launched the structure-based campaign under which I called farmers ‘Bhagirath Krishak’ and ponds ‘Rewa Sagar’,” said Umrao, adding that in 1990’s the district had faced a huge water crisis. Even a ‘water special’ train had been sent to Dewas to deal with the problem, he said.
“When I had proposed the concept, farmers were in dilemma as they had to convert a part of their land into pond…(but) I convinced them that when fertilizer could increase the production by 10-20 %, proper irrigation could increase production by 200%,” he said.
In the next one-and-a-half years the farm production increased and farmers also started getting returns for the investments made to convert a part of their land into pond, he added.
According to Dewas collector Ashutosh Awasthi, the profit of framers from agriculture production of Rabi crop increased from Rs 1.8 lakh to Rs 3.07 lakh during the period. “Not only this, the ponds have increased the groundwater level due to which the 1,000 idle tubewells in the region became operational,” said Awasthi.
The United Nations had selected Dewas district’s community water management works in the best three water management practices in the world under the category of ‘Best Water Management Practices’ for 2011-2012.