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The greening of Hiware Bazaar in Maharashtra

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The story of a Maharashtra village that transformed itself and the lives of its people

An undivided community, self-reliance in water, innovative farming and a disciplined life — Hiware Bazaar lives by these mantras. From a hilltop, the village in Ahmed Nagar district of Maharashtra looks like an eruption of green among lands left parched by poor rain during the previous years. “See how green is my village. But we have received very low rainfall for three consecutive years,” Mohan Thange says with a sense of pride. The good tidings mean those who migrated from here are returning. Hiware Bazaar has a population of 1,350. The average income of farmers is ₹10 lakh to ₹12 lakh a year. Just a decade ago, they were living below the poverty line.

Popatrao Baguji Pawar, who was chosen as panchayat pradhan in 1989, led the transformation. With the guidance of Anna Hazare, he gave thrust to rainwater conservation and equal distribution of water. He motivated the villagers to live a disciplined life, kept liquor out of the village boundaries and convinced the people not to sell land to anyone from outside.

These mantras appeared to have worked. Awards and recognition have come to Mr. Pawar for his initiatives. He comes out of the panchayat office with the water audit report of Hiware Bazaar. “The country needs to have such reports for every village to save them from the rapid changes of climate,” he says. This will help redesign crop patterns and establish a water management system. He is planning to launch a mobile app for the village to receive daily weather updates, market prices of crops, organic and carbon status of the villages around, and soil health and water audit reports.

“The Hiware Bazar Gram Sabha have already decided to have a community drip irrigation project at a cost of Rs. 26 crore, which would interconnect 364 existing wells in the village to three main wells for equal distribution of water,” he said.

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