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Faced with administrative apathy, village solves its own water problem

Self-Help is best help: Madhera residents digging a one-km-long channel to lay a cement pipeline for receiving Yamuna waters for drinking and irrigation in Rajasthan's Bharatpur district. — Photo: Rohit Jain Paras

Self-Help is best help: Madhera residents digging a one-km-long channel to lay a cement pipeline for receiving Yamuna waters for drinking and irrigation in Rajasthan's Bharatpur district. — Photo: Rohit Jain Paras  

Community initiative tackles perennial problem of groundwater salinity

In a rare community-driven initiative, the residents of a nondescript village near Deeg in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan have solved the perennial problem of groundwater salinity by laying a one-km cement pipeline to get the Yamuna river waters from a feeder canal situated nearby.

The small Madhera village had been facing difficulty in getting clean and pure water for both drinking and irrigation for years in view of the unusually high fluoride, nitrate and salt contents in the groundwater of the region. The water salinity is so high it is unfit for drinking even by the cattle.

Eager to tackle the problem, the villagers convened a meeting earlier this month and decided to bring on their own the water from the Bharatpur feeder canal, situated about one km away from Madhera, which carries the waters of the Yamuna. Demands to connect the village with the feeder canal had been raised several times in the past without any response from the administration.

The villagers decided to lay an underground cement pipeline from the canal to Madhera at an estimated cost of Rs.2.50 lakh. Since the money required was not readily available, the village elders decided to pool in finances and declared that each household would make contributions as per its capacity.

Each of the 60 households in the village made contributions ranging from Rs.200 to Rs.5,000 for the unique community-driven project. A total of Rs.1.50 lakh was collected, but the work on the project was held up for want of the remainder amount.

The villagers met once again and this time decided to seek help from the Lupin Human Welfare and Research Foundation — the corporate social responsibility wing of pharmaceutical major Lupin — working actively for rural development, livelihood promotion and employment generation in Bharatpur district for the past two decades.

Lupin Foundation executive director Sita Ram Gupta said here on Thursday that his organisation considered the project a major initiative towards villagers' empowerment, and at once provided a financial assistance of Rs.70,000 for the purpose.

After arranging adequate finances, the villagers dug a one-km channel and laid a 700-metre cement pipeline of 12-inch diameter in it. The pipeline's installation was carried out in a professional manner, with each villager contributing his time, energy and expertise to ensure that water passed through it smoothly.

Mr. Gupta said the first action the villagers took after the getting the water supply was to fill up the pokhar (small public pond) in Madhera. This has led to an increase in the water level of the wells situated nearby, which are now being utilised for irrigation.

The Yamuna waters received through this unique model have facilitated irrigation in an area measuring 500 hectare, besides quenching the thirst of the villagers. The villagers have also put up water harvesting structures at several points to reap full advantage of the rains.

Mr. Gupta pointed out that the farming of vegetables and fruits had been taken up on a large scale in Madhera thanks to the “creative idea, ingenious planning and hard work” of villagers. With the expectations of a high agricultural yield, the financial lot of the villagers is also set to improve in the time to come.

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