KARNATAKA

A check dam built at a cost of just Rs. 7.5 lakhs

BIDAR, OCT. 7. A team of engineers of the Bidar Zilla Panchayat, headed by the Chief Executive Officer, Naveen Raj Singh, has built a single-arch check dam that can store nearly two million cubic feet (mcft) of water at a cost of a little over Rs. 7.5 lakh. A large open well on the command side of the check dam holds 20 million litres of water.

The dam provides water to villages and hamlets such as Amalapur, Gornalli, Shahapur, Wadi, Rajnal, Nagura (N), and Tadu Ghat around Chitta. The dam has also ensured that open wells and irrigation pumpsets are provided water till the next monsoon, N.S. Patil, engineer in-charge of the check dam, says.

Sugarcane cultivation

Farmers in these areas, which suffered from an acute water shortage last year, are now contemplating the cultivation of sugarcane, a water intensive crop. "The water-table in the village has gone up considerably after the dam was built," says Mahadev Biradar, a progressive farmer from Chitta.

The task force for rejuvenation of groundwater in the district, headed by the then Deputy Conservator of Forests, Manoj Kumar, chose the hilly terrain on the outskirts of Chitta village to build the check dam. There was a dilapidated mud wall, constructed by the erstwhile Nizam of Hyderabad, on the spot where the dam was built.

"The mud wall was probably meant to act like a check dam, but had collapsed. We chose this area as we found that the largest amount of water could be stored at this place even if a small structure was constructed," Mr. Kumar says.

The team consulted teachers of the Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College to finalise the design of the dam. The decision to construct a single-arch buttress check dam was made as the cost of building such a dam with a capacity of one mcft was around Rs. 30 lakhs.

Construction costs

Similar structures have been used for water conservation in the United States as well, says Mr. Singh.

"By using the buttress arch model, we reduced the cost of construction to one sixteenth the cost of a conventional stone check dam."

"The cost increased because of the additional features such as the dhobi ghat and the fountain. Otherwise the dam would have cost less that Rs. 4 lakhs," he says

Officials of the Watershed Development Department, which has been constructing check dams for the past 15 years, say that they have never taken up construction of such a big structure