VSSM’s water conservation efforts recently took me to Vaghpura village near Gujarat-Rajasthan boarder. The villagers had requested for deepening of their community lake. As usual our condition of villagers contributing to lifting the excavated soil as well as small cash donation (to be used for water conservation works in the village) by each household while VSSM supported JCB expenses prevailed. The objective of the visit was to meet the community and leaders to discuss the telephonic conversations in person.
“Ben, this year we faced an onslaught locust on our crops which caused severe damage to our crops. The loss has been immense. Also because we are at the fringe of Gujarat, we have remained a deprived and backward area as most benefits do not reach us as well as they do in other villages. However, we shall do as you tell us too!!” Sarpanch Virabhai spoke on behalf of the leaders and the community.
It was a regular visit to meet the community and see the region, the lake etc but what was striking about this village was the place we were seated. Under the glorious and massive shade of a woodland created by 108 peepul trees, right at the centre of the village. It has taken them 10 years to raise these native trees. Peepul isn’t a tree humans Peepul is not a species that many prefer to plant, however, a saint visited the village and insisted that he will meditate under the canopy of 108 peepul trees, as a result, these trees were planted. And it was not just here they had planted trees at many other places too. This habit of planting trees speaks a lot about the sincerity of the community and its leadership. Our experience says that people show a lot of enthusiasm in planting trees but when it comes to raising them they don’t feel as encouraged but the villagers here had succeeded in showing their commitment towards both planting and raising the trees.
Their unity has been inspiring too. When we conveyed our intention to conduct tree plantation drive along with deepening of lakes, they immediately welcomed the idea and were ready to allot land for the same.
I was accompanied by respected Shri Rashminbhai Sanghvi who is like a father to me and someone who helped us initiate and shape the water conservation efforts, Shri Girishbhai Saive and Ms Shweta Dodeja.
We hope more and more villages are inspired to join this movement.
પાસો વિસ્તારેય પસાત. છતો તમે કો સો ઈમ થશે એટલો ફાળો ભેરો કરી આલશું. પાસુ અમારુ આ ગોમ બોર્ડર પરનું એટલે બીજા ગોમોન મળ એવા લાભથીયે અમે વંચિત રહી જઈએ. છતો કરીશું થાય એ’
VSSM has initiated a water conservation campaign with an objective to retain the waters of villages and farms. The first phase of this campaign began in Banaskantha district where we have been receiving very good response. The communities are waking up to the urgent need to conserve water.
This year we have already kicked off the village lake deepening efforts. The works for the same are on in Sihori village in Kankrej. Recently, I was in the region to meet the community and monitor on-going efforts. The attached images share glimpses of the work in progress. As we have mentioned here at past occasions, VSSM takes the responsibility of JCB expenses while the villagers have to take the responsibility of ferrying the excavated soil.
VSSM’s Participatory Water Management campaign was launched to put this phrase into practice. The initiative was launched Banaskantha where the groundwater tables have gone alarmingly low. It all began with deepening of the village lakes. Until last year we have deepened 87 lakes in partnership with the village community.
“Until how long should we depend on somebody else worry about what is ours, our water, our land, our resources. How long should one wait for the government to come and help or an organisation to come and do the needful? We need to take responsibility for common property resources that exist for our collective benefit. If one has contributed he or she will ask questions and show concern for it’s up-keeping. One will question if someone is encroaching over it or drawing water without permission.” It is to raise this kind of awareness that we have initiate strict enforcement of the contribution norm as well. And Vada, Khorda and Kuvaarva have contributed willingly towards the water corpus in their village. Hope we have similar experiences throughout the year!!!
In the earlier days, the farmers would begin to have an easier workload after the Rabi crop was harvested because the groundwater wasn’t explored yet hence there was no possibility of farming during summers. “So what did they do during this free time?” is an obvious thought that crosses our mind.
Do you think they spent their time ideally? Never! It is not in a farmer’s nature to sit still. They would till their soil and prepare their farms for the next season. They would repair and restore traditional water sources of their own and that of the village. Yes, they never depended on anybody else to come and take care of the water sources of their village. Today we depend on the government to come and take care of common property resources of our villages.
The communities in rural areas will benefit only when the lakes will deepen, and hold the rainwater into it. Why depend on government for all such needs. Yes, if it happens nothing like it but consider it an added benefit. Do what we have to do, whatever is our responsibility.
When one fails to protect common property resources they become history. There are numerous examples of lakes encroached upon and being used to farm. ‘once upon a time there was a lake here…’ we have heard this at countless places.We are driving our efforts to include the villagers to take responsibility for their resources. We are reaching out to villagers, organising meetings to evoke this sense of responsibility and duty in them.
We are hopeful that the response is going to be better than the previous 3 years.
It is time we return to mother earth all that we have taken from her for all these years.
Vada village has taken up the responsibility to do its part for the protection of its water sources. Have you??
Images of our meetings and discussions…
ઉનાળો શરૃ થશે એટલે આપણે સૌ ઝાડ, પાણી ટૂંકમાં પર્યાવરણની ચિંતા સેવવાનું શરૃ કરીશું.
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