The 50 residents of Chicholidhana village, 60 km from the Betul district headquarters, had never before looked forward to rains so excitedly. This time they are waiting eagerly.
The reason: a 130-ft stop-dam has come up at the village after years of conceptualisation and hard work that will help them grow two crops every year from now on.
The villagers said they didn’t have any major irrigation facility. Rains and tube-wells were the only means to irrigate the fields.
With the ground water level plummeting alarmingly over the past decade, they faced a lot of difficulty irrigating their fields.
Sixty-year-old Liladhar Sujane told HT, “Since my childhood we could not even think of two crops a year. We had only kharif.”
The idea that a stop-dam be constructed over the nullah outside the village was mooted about a decade ago among the 12 families whose agricultural fields — 60 to 70 acres — lie on both sides of the nullah. But some families did not like the idea as parts of their fields would be submerged.
With the rabi crop eluding them every year and the water crisis forced them to reconsider. They finally consented to the project four years ago.
But the task wasn’t easy.
“We gave several applications and reminders to the authorities at the block and tehsil levels but to no avail,” Rishi Sujane told Hindustan Times.
At one point, government offcials said the project would cost more than Rs 5 lakh but the villagers did it with Rs 3 lakh. The money flowed in trickles. Some villagers even took loans for the project. The beneficiaries put in their hard work and with the help of back hoe (JCB) machines, the work was completed in a few months this year.
“That we can also construct a stop-dam still thrills me. We thought if we could overcome the constraints, the reward would be crop bounty for generations to come. With two crops every year and fishing in the reservoir, the returns will be manifold. This will also inspire others to achieve the impossible without government support,” said Leeladhar, exuding hope and confidence.