- Published on Sunday, 04 September 2011 12:48
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Orissa stands out as a paradox with the status of an underdeveloped State within India though endowed with rich natural and mineral resources. The estimated water resource of the State is one of the highest in the country, being of the order of 11% with 4% geographical area. Yet, the per capita agricultural production is one of the lowest and majority in Orissa, are small and marginal farmers practicing subsistence farming.
Thus the strategy to be adopted in planning and managing water resources assumes greater importance.
Agriculture is a vital sector in India contributing to about 30% of the GDP, a primary consumer of water at 80%. After independence, the need for expansion of irrigation facilities was fully recognized for increasing food grains production to meet the growing requirement of the population. However, the Irrigation sector is facing the problem of inadequate water management and maintenance. Better water management in agriculture will go a long way in improving our crop productivity and thereby, the total output. This would also make more water available for other crucial needs like the domestic and industrial sectors.
We at BISWA, see a clear convergence in water management or ecological development, and economic growth equating to ‘Quality of life.
The linkage between ecology and rural people’s economies has been decided as a thumb rule for any intervention in the sector. The focus is laid upon conservation, regeneration and the judicious use of all the resources - natural (land, water, plants and animals) and human. As an organization spread across all the 30 districts of Orissa, there is immense possibility at the offing to be realized from drought proofing to flood mitigation and solving water logging.A research based approach is sought in the initial stages to understand the geography of the area and find agricultural water management practices like techniques for increased water-use efficiency, dryland water conservation methods, social structures for cropping regulation, Low external input sustainable agricultural methods, etc. This helps us to integrate the traditional and localized water conservation methods with the modern conceptual technologies. In the implementation stage, these technologies are tailor-made to involve active community participation and percolation of benefit to the lowest common denominator in the social structure.
Fact sheet: Learnings from the People
Participatory Irrigation System in Tribal Area
The Khond tribals in present day Bolangir and Phulbani districts developed an irrigation system in the 16th century. A system of percolation tanks, diversion weirs and channels can take advantage of sloping terrains to conserve natural run off and utilize the flow of the streams. This system required community participation to sustain it.
Unfortunately, modern irrigation practices destroyed this system and this fertile area is now drought prone.
Katas / Mundas / Bandhas
The katas, mundas and bandhas were the main irrigation sources in the ancient tribal kingdom of the Gonds (now in Orissa and Madhya Pradesh). Most of these katas were built by the village headmen known as gountias, who in turn, received the land from the Gond kings. Land here is classified into four groups on the basis of its topography: aat, (highland); mal (sloped land); berna (medium land); and bahal (low land). This classification helps to select.A kata is constructed north to south, or east to west, of a village. A strong earthen embankment, curved at either end, is built across a drainage line to hold up an irregularly-shaped sheet of water. The undulations of the country usually determine its shape as that of a long isosceles triangle, of which the dam forms the base. It commands a valley, the bottom of which is the bahal land and the sides are the mal terrace. As a rule, there is a cut high up on the slope near one end of the embankment from where water is led either by a small channel or tal, or from field to field along terraces, going lower down to the fields. In years of normal rainfall, irrigation was not needed because of moisture from percolation and, in that case, the surplus flow was passed into a nullah. Similarly in the years of scanty rainfall, there were mechanisms to combat the situation.
(Ref source: Down to Earth)
We profess to promote the traditional water resource conservative technologies, integrated with a modern approach through public-private partnership.