Here’s a story in India Today on water in Gujarat. The prospects of ground water are particularly grim in India. Gujarat is, however, another story. There the trend is hopeful. Narendrabhai knows what’s important.
When Chief Minister Narendra Modi took over in 2001, he laid emphasis on creating farm ponds in areas like north and central Gujarat where building check dams was not very feasible. As a result 1,81,00,000 farm ponds have been built till date at a cost of Rs 181 crore. Farm ponds are built in that part of a farm where rain water collection happens in natural course.
In 2003, the Gujarat Government launched the Gujarat Green Revolution Company to propagate sprinkler and drip irrigation technology among farmers by giving them hefty incentives. Rated as the best in the country by the Union Agriculture Ministry for last three years, this initiative is one of the reasons why the groundwater level is getting recharged in the state.
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Then there are other big irrigation schemes which have helped in enhancing the water table in Gujarat. For example, in north and central Gujarat, the mud canal of the Sujalam Sufalam Yojana played a key role in bringing up the water level. . .
Besides these long-term projects, certain short-term initiatives have also worked wonders. Last year, Gujarat had a bad monsoon but when the Government realised that rains could hit the state in the last leg of monsoon, it launched a quick water conservation drive by building boribunds (very small dams made by blocking small rivulets with the help of sand bags). In 20 days, over 2,50,000 boribunds came up as a result of a joint effort by the departments of rural development and forest management, NGOs and village committees.
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In 2009, Gujarat registered 9.06 per cent agricultural growth rate while the nation’s growth rate was less than three per cent. The total cultivable area in Gujarat has increased by a phenomenal 15 per cent in the past 10 years. During that period, Gujarat’s agro production has jumped from Rs 18,000 crore to Rs 49,000 crore. The state increased its cotton yield six-fold from 175 kg per hectare to 798 kg, more than the world average of 787 kg.
“Gujarat has set the finest example of groundwater management through indigenous and modern methods and through people’s participation,” says Tushaar Shah, senior fellow at the International Water Management Institute. When Jhamka and Khopala did it, the rest of Gujarat wondered why not they. It’s time the rest of the country asked the same question.
I am hoping that India gets the kind of leadership that Gujarat has had.
Another piece of good news before I conclude this. I am off to the US in a couple of days. I will be in the San Francisco Bay area Monday onwards. For starters, I will be on a road trip. Blogging will be light, as it has unfortunately been in the last couple of months. But there’s a rather large archive and if you find nothing new to here, please do visit some old stuff.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.