Many villages in rural India go through periods of droughts because they lack rainwater harvesting structures to manage water shortages in different seasons. Solutions such as bunds are short-term and not durable during long stretches of drought. Village irrigation tanks, inter-channels, farm ponds and other water harvesting structures that have been damaged due to climate change stresses can be restored and rejuvenated through MGNREGS.
Chowdupalli is a poor tribal village in Chintapalli mandal, Vishakhapatnam district where migrants from Odisha reside. Despite having many acres of land in their possession, they were unable to cultivate them due to water scarcity. Bunds were constructed in some places to store rain water but, these supported short-term vegetable cultivation and did not provide income stability and long-term sustenance. The village tank located in the area was silted and the inlet channels were blocked by weed and mud.
Using MGNREGS funds Chowdupalli villagers cleared the tank, removed silt and restored the seven acre tank in their village. They had also developed small inlet channels from the village tank to draw water for their agriculture lands. During the monsoons, the massive tank fills with water that is used for cultivation – the village no longer suffers from droughts.
A similar story is of the irrigation channel in the Kodavaluru village in Nellore district which is a Scheduled Caste colony. Most villagers had small land holdings and primarily worked as daily wage or agricultural labourers. Water shortages did not allow cultivation of holdings. The only channel that watered these lands was damaged. Channel restoration work was taken up for this particular channel using MGNREGS funds.
The fields now have sufficient water from nearby Sangam Barrage and Kandaleru reservoir for both kharif and rabi crops. The farmers who earlier worked at very low daily wages, produce yields of 32 to 35 bags of paddy which fetches them Rs. 50,000/- annually. The increased income has had a positive impact on the socio-economic conditions of the farmers and children are being sent to school.