Thursday, June 9, 2011

Water Conservation through Nagpuri Weirs

Water Conservation through Nagpuri Weirs (An Innovative Scheme bv Zilla Parishad - Nagpur) Nagpuri Weir is an innovative Minor Irrigation Structure made of empty polythene cement bags filled with mixture of sand and soil with pasting of black cotton soil in between. The idea has been originally conceived by NGO 'Vanrai' but successfully implemented by the Zilla Parishad, Nagpur.

Here is the success story of this innovative experiment.
Nagpuri Weir is a Low cost structure of which minimum cost is Rs.500/- Technology used is very simple and users friendly. Rainwater in smaller streams surrounding any village can be checked if we have a series of such weirs in the stream bed. Construction of such weir requires empty cement bags and the remaining material is available on the banks of the stream. A weir of 8 meter width requires 177 empty cement bags of which cost coupled with the mandays is not more than Rs.781/- The most important features of this structure is that the material is locally available and people themselves can construct it without any technical know-how.

Average rainfall of Nagpur district is 1000 mm. But 30 to 40% of the rainwater drains away un-utilized. There is large number of Minor Irrigation structures like K.T. weirs, storage tanks, "malgujari" tanks in Nagpur district. But maintenance of these structures is a herculean Task in itself and they hardly serve their original purpose. Therefore, Zilla Parishad, Nagpur decided to experiment with still lower cost and more people oriented structures for conservation of rainwater. They took up to Nagpur weir ( Originally known as Vanrai Bandhara) as the major activity during watershed week to be celebrated from October 1 to 7, 2001. Generally, water conservation activities are looked after by State Agriculture Department. But Government of Maharashtra decided to involve Zilla Parishads Block level machinery such as Deputy Engineers (Ml), BDO's, Agriculture Officers, Village Officers etc. in the programme. They were to be guided initially by State Agriculture Department Officers.

A workshop was arranged to that effect on 18th September 2001 and the concept of a cement bag weir was explained in detail. It was decided to have at least 10 such weirs in each of all 13 blocks during watershed week. There was no financial provision for that. It was to be implemented as peoples programme. NGO Vanrai responded positively to our enthusiasm and offered empty cement bags which were required. Initially tanker-fed villages were selected for this activity. Later on other villages also participated. People and school children came forward for "Shramdan." At many places Panchayat Samiti Officers themselves made Shramdan and constructed such weir. Vanrai provided more than 1 lack cement bags and remaining were collected by village panchayats.

As a result, from October 1st to December 31st 2001about 425 Nagpuri weirs were constructed in 310 villages without spending any Government money. Total rainwater stored by these weirs was 700 TCM for which, otherwise we would have required to construct almost 35 cement weirs and spent not less than Rs. 70 lakh. As it is a low cost and less time consuming structure Government of Maharashtra would take more Nagpuri weirs in lesser time period in a scattered area. More than 300 villages out of total 1600 villages in Nagpur district are benefitted by this experiment. Water level of the nearby Irrigation as well as water supply wells has increased. Farmers could take rabbi crops through direct irrigation from the weirs. In some of the Nagpuri weirs local fishermen started fishing activity.

Success stories are always made by sheer hard work, systematic efforts and team work. Nagpuri weirs is one such success stories which is made because of wonderful coordination among various wings of Zilla Parishad Nagpur, spontaneous response from the people, their participation in the form of money and labour, involvement of NGO's and supervision and motivation by higher officials.

Government Of Maharashtra has taken due notice of this experiment and taken it up as their regular activity. I hope that this success story will be repeated in all other districts of Maharashtra this year as the monsoons are here.
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