MANDLIKPUR: Rajkot, Gujarat
Population: 3,000
Initiation of water harvesting: 1993

Villagers of Mandlikpur have benefited from well water recharging and check dams. In 1993, this village began recharging its 150-odd wells. Today, this village has about 300 wells in which water is available at a depth of 18-30 metres. Well recharging was initiated by the Saurashtra Lok Manch (slm), a non-governmental organisation (ngo) (see Down To Earth , Vol 10, No 2, June 15, 2001).

In 2002, villagers further invested in water harvesting infrastructure. With help from organisations like Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation (baif), villagers contributed 10 per cent of the cost through shramdaan or voluntary labour, to raise seven large check dams and make five farm ponds. Water will be diverted from the check dams to the ponds and recharge the wells in the coming monsoon.

But most of these wells are in the north and east of the village. Nearly 40 per cent of the households, geographically located at a higher level in the southwest, did not benefit from well recharging. "Simply because they are not interested," says Vijay Bhai Senjhalia, a villager.

In the drought of 2001, the entire village had drinking water (see Down To Earth , Vol 10, No 2, June 15, 2001). But following the monsoon in 2001, villagers with land in the recharged zone could manage to cultivate crops (see Down To Earth, Vol 10, No 6, August 15, 2001) while the other side faced a crisis. Mandlikpur excelled in groundnut production. Most farmers netted an annual income of Rs 1 lakh. Last year before monsoon, Senjhalia managed 100 kilogrammes (kg) of groundnut, while this year he reaped 400 kg per ha.

Today, while the neighbouring villages and water-parched towns of Jethpur and Dhoraji depend on water tankers, nearly 50 per cent of the houses in Mandlikpur have rooftop rainwater storage facilities.

However, the absence of a central village institution like a local water committee fails to motivate the complacent. These villagers are excited about water benefits expected from the Sardar Sarovar project over the Narmada river. Hence even the panchayat is not interested in motivating villagers to recharge their wells. "We are getting Narmada water," says Savadasbhai Sanjalia, the village sarpanch . Narmada water was recently made available to the village but the supply was erratic. "In their enthusiasm over receiving Narmada waters, villagers should not forget to recharge their wells and harvest roof water," warns Shamjibhai Antala of slm.

Source: Down To Earth, June 30, 2002

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