The Indore district administration’s unique offer to farmers – dig up water bodies, cart away mineral-rich soil and manure your fields—has begun to pay dividends in water crisis-hit areas, according to officials.
The idea is working both ways—it is saving the district administration money in deepening water bodies and giving farmers mineral-rich manure for the fields at an affordable cost. All they have been asked to do is dig 3-5 feet deep and use 1/10th of the soil to strengthen the embankment.
The district administration had initiated the idea in mid-April after holding a series of meetings with sarpanchs, public representatives and villagers. It started on the ground from May 1 and will continue till the monsoon sets in. Indore has around 600 water bodies. But, the district administration chose 300-odd water bodies (bigger than 10 hectares each) and 142 canals for the purpose.
Indore district zilla panchayat CEO Waradmurti Mishra said so far over 3 lakh truckloads of soil had been excavated from the water bodies and works worth Rs 40 crore had been successfully completed. “We have 20 – 25 days before monsoon arrives. Every truckload of mud would cost them somewhere between Rs 300 – Rs 450 depending on distance, he said.
Need for such a programme arose in the face of alarming water crisis in Malwa region where the water table has fallen to 800 to 1100 feet, Mishra said, adding it would have been much easier for the district administration to allot fresh ponds digging to agencies through tenders. But, it wouldn’t have helped. “Instead, we thought of getting the existing water bodies deepened by involving the farmers. The digging and soil transport cost is being borne by the farmers,” Mishra said. However, the idea did take a lot of convincing.
City-based geologists have expressed concern that unregulated excavation of lake basin may damage its water holding capacity.
To this, Mishra said, “A team of 63 engineers are supervising the programme across the region.”