Lift Irrigation

Water-scarcity in predominantly agrarian villages, which are highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture for livelihood, impacts the very basis for survival for these communities. In the end the farmers are the direct sufferers when the rains are inadequate. Prof Jajoo thought that if appropriate irrigation facility were made available, a farmer may be able to beat the odds stacked against him by nature. This narrative describes the long and ardous journey taken starting in 1990 by Prof Jajoo and his team to build small dams, water reservoirs, so as to distribute stored water via pipes to even the most distant farms in the area.

Milestones

1990- Project idea initiated
1992- Project construction begins
1994- Khadaka is the first village to implement this programme
1996- Dindoda village becomes the second village to implement this programme

The scope of the problem…

lift irrigationSeventy-two percent of India’s 1.1 billion people reside in rural areas with a majority of them living below the poverty line. Currently, crops grown on about half of India’s 140 million cultivable hectares still depend entirely on rain. The rural poor especially are highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods. In such circumstances, the year-to-year variation in monsoon rain leads to water scarcity. This water scarcity is further impacted by a weak framework for sustainable water management and irrigation in rural India. In the end the farmers are the direct sufferers when the rains are inadequate.

Looking for solutions…

Prof Jajoo says “We thought, if appropriate irrigation facility is made available, a farmer may be able to beat the odds stacked against him by nature. A plan was proposed to create small dams to accumulate water which could then be lifted from the dam site, to a water reservoir built at the highest central location on the farm-land.  The stored water could then be distributed via pipes to even the most distant farms in the area.’

He added ‘We surveyed the river basins of two rivers flowing in our area- the Bor and Dham river. Four sites were identified as potential sites for building dams after a detailed survey of the river basins. The local government body was successfully approached for assessing feasibility and getting approval for dam constructions’

Lift IrrigationSpecific pre- conditions were set for the villagers to participate in this scheme. All farmers in a given village were required to participate for building water reservoirs and making land available. It was decided that water distribution should occur on the principle of equitable distribution. Despite significant initial political hurdles these projects were finally able to move forward.  

Khadaka, a village on the banks of the river Bor, was chosen as the first for the lift – irrigation scheme.

Kadaka, with a population of 532 people and an area of the 333 hectares provided ideal circumstances to start this project. The villagers here were also enthusiastic in their support. A co-operative society was started and its office-bearers selected in an apolitical manner. A unique decision making body for within the cooperative society was established. All decisions could now be made preferably by consensus or with the written approval from atleast 75% of its members. Additionally, power was to be delegated only to those who offer voluntary services and no material or monetary benefit went for the managers of this social organization.

Prof Jajoo, was asked by the groups consensus decision to act as an arbitrator-cum-trustee by the cooperative society members to assist them in their decision making. The group pledged to respect the opinion of the trustee when at cross-roads.