Constructing gravity flow irrigation in water-scarce rural areas

Bhaliadal village of Talacampei gram panchayat in Banspal block, Keonjhar district has a largely rain fed agriculture system and low yield of paddy. Despite having a requirement of is 0.014BCM (Billion cum) for paddy crop, it is only able to realise 0.004 BCM, significantly affecting productivity and threatening food security. Though there are perennial springs in the mountains, the block has very few irrigation infrastructures (only 360 of small and medium size) and no canal command area – hence most of the area is under mono-crop. Through improved planning and implementation of water conservation and harvesting structure under MGNREGS – Diversion Based Irrigation system (DBIs) – has been implemented for perennial water supply from springs in the upper catchment area.

ISSUES

Bhaliadal village prioritised water conservation structures because of the severe water shortage that resulted in single crop cycles and affected the daily lives of the community especially women. After mid-December, no crop plants are seen in the village and there is also a shortage of domestic water supply. There were only two hand pumps in the village catering to 217 people (39HHs) for both drinking and domestic uses. The quality of water of one hand pump was not good even though both hand pumps are located barely 50 m apart. A small pond located in the outskirts of the village is used for bathing purposes. Under the Swaccha Bharat Mission, 38 toilets were constructed but most of them are not in use because of lack of water. In order to address these issues, the ICRG team in consultation with the local community decided to implement a gravity flow water supply system.

IMPLEMENTATION

69The village is in the upper catchment of two famous water falls in the district called Badaghagra and Sanaghagra. The water harvesting structure proposed under MGNREGA aims to restore water in a live spring at an elevated suitable point through construction of either a retaining wall or a box. The water is diverted through a pipeline from that point to the village or cultivable land. Hence, it is called DBI and addresses the issues of supply of water for irrigation, drinking and domestic use, which emerged as major issues in the village especially from women who had to walk 2 hours every day to bring water hour household consumption.

70The Block Administration worked with the ICRG team to collect the estimate and details of the sanctioned work under MGNREGS. Discussions were held with the village community on extended uses of the irrigation system such as for vegetable cultivation and for kharif paddy. This consultation created a sense of ownership of the project and facilitated its subsequent Gram Sabha approval. There are 4 SHGs in the village and all women agreed to work on this MGNREGS structure. The pipeline for the structure has to pass through an almost 300 m long forest stretch. No trees were cut except for some boulder clearance of 0.5mx300m dimension to construct the spring box. One master storage tank was constructed to meet the demand in peak hours and a pipeline to connect the spring box and master tank (length 1700m, HDPE pipe with 75mm diameter with 6 kg/cm2 pressure). A network of water taps to households (for both domestic & drinking purpose) was also installed with help of a local NGO.

Impact

Through this water conservation and harvesting structure, 39 households will get water for drinking and domestic use; 30 HHs will get water for vegetable cultivation in 6 acre of land; about 10 people will get portable drip system for demonstration with the objective of water saving and introduction of hi-tech farming. The work will create additional livelihoods as well as soil cover for 6 acres of area where at present there is no soil cover. The system can supply water during any dry spells in the kharif and provide an option to deal with climate adversities in this season. About 217 ST persons will benefit with better access to water for domestic purposes and irrigation.

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