People power aids Murbad farmers in winter crops after poor harvestUpdated: Dec 08, 2019 02:03 IST
Farmers in Murbad and Shahpur areas are reeling under losses as their crops have been destroyed due to heavy and extended rainfall.
Usually these areas are dry and grapple with water scarcity every year.
To ensure that farmers have enough water for rabi or winter harvest, local gram sevaks, panchayats and district-level officers have taken an initiative to build dams at various locations across the district.
“We started off with the water conservation after Prime Minister’s Office directed all sarpanchs to do so. During inspection, we found that farmers in our district were reeling under water scarcity,” said Vishwanath Kelkar, block development officer, Murbad.
He said that instead of short-term measures such as supplying them tanker water, they decided to build small dams using cement bags. “We initiated the idea. Zilla parishad, local self-help groups and teachers supported the idea. It was decided we will not ask money from the government but will build them ourselves by collecting resources,” said Kelkar.
The cyclone in October disrupted their plans to build dams. Officials joined hands and started building the dams in November. They built 450 dams in Murbad in the past one month.
“Hundred more will be built in the next one week. Villages that depended on tanker water and forest areas now have small dams,” said Kelkar.
The authorities are planning more such dams to tide over the water need of the parched areas.
“This is a people’s movement. Started by the zilla parishad, the initiative of Murbad region has been replicated in Shahpur. We aim to build 4,500 dams across Thane district. Farmers as well as domestic and other animals in the forests will benefit from the initiative. Also, the move has motivated local residents to conserve water,” said Hiralal Sonawane, chief executive officer, Thane zilla parishad.
The Zilla Parishad has developed a mobile application through which officials on a local level will share pictures of the dams that they have built. The app will show the exact location of the dams after photos are uploaded. The latitude and longitude of the location gets updated automatically. Also, a data record of the locations will come handy next year for officials to know which areas require dams.
Shahpur is a rural and tribal area where the primary source of livelihood is agriculture.
Rice crops were damaged in the heavy rainfall and floods this year. Farmers are hoping the winter harvest of rabi crops such as pulses and vegetables will help them recover losses. “The dams will help them use water adequately and solve water problems in these regions. Till now, 59 dams have been built in Shahpur,” added Sonawane.
Locals are happy with the provision as they have been losing crops because of unseasonal rain.
“Dams will be beneficial for our crops and will also help us earn better. However, a permanent solution to such problems should be made so that we do not incur losses next monsoon,” said Atul Mhatre, farmer from Murbad district.