Villagers storing stones to make a boundary for rain water harvesting at Ara-Keram Village under Ormanjhi block in Ranchi on July 28, 2019.(Hindustan Times)
Villagers storing stones to make a boundary for rain water harvesting at Ara-Keram Village under Ormanjhi block in Ranchi on July 28, 2019.(Hindustan Times)

PM Modi praises Ranchi villages for water conservation efforts

The PM in his Mann Ki Baat address drew upon various examples of conservation efforts undertaken by Jharkhand.
Hindustan Times, Ranchi | By Sanjoy Dey
UPDATED ON JUL 29, 2019 05:42 AM IST

Ara and Keram, two Ranchi villages in Ormanjhi block, turned model for water conservation in the country and they got Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appreciation on Sunday for exemplary works done in this regard.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his second Mann ki Baat, after returning to power, made a special mention of the villages saying it a model for the country on efforts towards water conservation.

Stressing on water conservation, he drew upon various examples of conservation efforts undertaken by various states including Jharkhand. “The way villagers of Ara-Keram showed enthusiasm towards water management is an example for everyone. The villagers by contributing labour give a certain direction to the stream water flowing out of the hill that too by adopting pure Deshi method. Besides checking soil erosion and waste of crops, the farm fields are also getting water by the effort,” Modi said.

Hardly 30-km from capital Ranchi, the two villages having 110 households rejuvenated a dying Dambha river, conserved rain water through dobhas (farm pond) and trench-cum-bund (TCB) system and protected Keram forest spread over 400 acres of land.

The water conservation practice started in the villages in 2016. Fifty-five dobhas (farm pond) were created in two villages, due to which the villages registered three-four times high yield in 2017. Despite a drought year in 2018, Ara-Keram’s yield production was almost double the normal production of the village. However, the crop production on upland was almost negligible.

“The villagers decided to take the water conservation initiative further. In September, they were encourage to go for trench-cum-bund system on upland to conserve water. The system could help recharge one crore litres of water on one hectare of land. It is a water recharge system,” said Sidhartha Tripathy, state commissioner of MGNREGA.

He said the villagers dug out TCB on 55 acres of upland from September 2018 to February 10, 2019.

Taking it further, the villagers decided to check the stream water falling from a nearby hill through loose bolder structure.

However, model code of conduct (MCC) for parliamentary polls this year was coming as hurdle in way of the project.

“I told villagers the project will get delayed, if it was taken under MGNREGA due to MCC. The villagers, however, decided that they would go for the project by contributing labour voluntarily,” he said.

The villagers created 650 check dams on the streams through loose bolder structure from March 20 this year. They contributed labour worth Rs 1.5 crore. President of Gram Van Raksha Samiti (GVRS), a joint committee of two villages, Ramesh Bedia said, “More than 170 villagers including 60% of them were women, worked daily to build the check dams.”

Bedia said, “The stream, which passes through 11 villages while travelling to 12-km to fall into Rukka dam, had almost dried few years back due to deforestation. We first decided to protect the forest and set up a GVRS in 1992. Tree felling is prohibited in the forest and village animals could graze in a certain pocket. Over last 26 years, the forest has again rejuvenated and water returned to the stream.”

He said objective of putting up check dams on the stream was to increase the layer of ground water so that hand pumps and wells did not go dry in summer. “We hope the two villages would face no water crisis from the next year,” Bedia said.

The two villages have already turned model for other villages in Jharkhand. Till now, over 1000 mukhiyas (village heads) have visited the Ara-Keram to learn the art of water conservation.

Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das also lauded the effort of Ara-Keram villages. “Water conservation has now become a mass movement in Jharkhand,” he said. The CM, in 2017, had declared Ara-Keram as Jharkhand’s first addiction-free villages.

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