Silt from reservoirs, a boon to farmers in ‘dark zone’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 18 May 2017 10:23:28

Staff Reporter,

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. The same holds true for Maharashtra Government’s ‘Gaalmukt Dharan, Gaalyukt Shivar Yojana’ (silt-free reservoirs, fertile farmland). The scheme is working wonders for the farmers in Katol and Narkhed tehsils that come under ‘dark zone’ as far as groundwater level is concerned.

During a visit to village Sipi-Khapa in Narkhed tehsil on Wednesday, the journalists found that farmers were happy with ‘Gaalmukt Dharan, Gaalyukt Shivar Yojana’. So far, 13.22 hectares area of reservoir-bed here has been desilted and this has helped in increasing the fertility of 300 hectares of farmland. As per the Government policy, more than 50 farmers from Sawargaon, Yenikoni and other villages have transported the silt (fertile layer of soil) removed from the reservoir at Sipi-Khapa to their farmlands.

For the first time, desilting of the Sipi-Khapa reservoir is being carried out since its construction in 1978. The reservoir is spread over 13.22 hectares, but accumulation of silt over the years has reduced its area to 10.88 hectares and also affected its storage capacity. The irrigation potential is 213 hectares. With the launch of Government scheme ‘Gaalmukt Dharan, Gaalyukt Shivar Yojana’, Minor Irrigation Department of Zilla Parishad (ZP) and Dr Archana Pathare, Sub-Divisional Officer of Katol, have taken initiative for broadening and deepening of the reservoir through its desilting.

The silt from the reservoir is more useful than the fertilizers. For five years, at least, the fertility and productivity of the farmland gets improved. This was the collective opinion of progressive farmers Sanjay Thombre, Manish Fukey, and Jayant Dadhe. Thombre, who owns 3.75 acres of farmland. He has planted 400 orange trees in the said land. With the silt from the reservoir getting deposited in his farmland, he felt that production will increase by 30-35 per cent.

Under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), many private companies have joined hands with the administration by way of providing excavators for the four-year project. Under the scheme, the Government will not charge any royalty to farmers for transporting the silt removed from lakes, ponds, and river beds, to their farmlands. However, farmers have to pay for transportation.

The visit of journalists to the sites was facilitated by District Superintending Agriculture Officer, Minor Irrigation Department, Water Conservation Department, and District Information Office.

Silt is free but no vehicles for transportation During the visit, farmers revealed that though they were free to transport the silt removed from reservoir to their farmlands, they were facing a tough challenge in transportation of silt because of non-availability of vehicles.
Sanjay Tulsiram Thombre, a farmer, said, “The Government initiative is really vert good. However, we are facing problem of transportation of the silt to our farmlands due to shortage of trucks in the area.” The trucks, tractors are not available for transportation because the farmers have engaged those in preparing the farms ahead of monsoon expected to arrive early this year.

Thombre and other farmers brought this issue to the notice of Dr Archana Pathare, Sub-Divisional Officer, Katol. They urged Dr Pathare to make available trucks/vehicles for transportation from other parts of the district. They expressed willingness to pay for the cost for transportation. In response, she assured to them that she would take measures to make available trucks for transportation of silt from the reservoir site.

Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan raises groundwater level
Maharashtra Government’s flagship programme -- Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan -- is yielding positive results and the groundwater level has registered an increase especially in Katol and Narkhed tehsils, providing a big relief to orange growers.

Dr Archana Pathare told reporters that improvement in groundwater level was benefitting farmers in Sawargaon, Tapni, and Sipi-Khapa villages. Under the Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan, Watershed Development Programme, and Special Component Scheme, cement nullah bund (CNB) is being constructed at Tapni in Katol tehsil. Besides, Kolhapuri Type (KT) weir on river Landgi at Sawargaon is being done by ZP Minor Irrigation Department’s Narkhed Sub-Division office. The nullah is also being broadened and deepened.

For these works, the Government has sanctioned rs 61.43 lakh. The weir is 26 metres in length, 3.50 metres in height. With deepening of nullah in river Landgi, the irrigation potential of the river has increased to 30 hectares, which is an improvement, said Dr Pathare. Deepening has been done in 920 metres of area and deepening in 400 metres more is proposed. After removing the silt, deepening and widening of the river-bed, water storage will be 270 TCM.
According to Dr Archana Pathare, “We have set the target to complete the works by the end of this month. The project will increase storage capacity of the weir and provide water for irrigation throughout the summer from next year.”

The weir was not in a position to store water during summer. Also, the river was shallow due to accumulation of silt. The project has helped in increasing the depth from 1.5 metres to 5 metres.

Minor Irrigation Department has removed silt and constructed three CNBs on a nullah flowing from area near farmlannd of a farmer Omprakash Rewatkar. According to Rewatkar, “There is a bore near the nullah but it used to dry up in February and never provided enough water during summer. After construction of CNBs and cleaning of nullah, water level has increased and farmers are getting water from that bore in the month of May also.” Rewatkar owns eight acres of land in which he grows orange, sweet lime, and cotton.

P S Khobragade, Deputy Engineer, Minor Irrigation Department, told reporters that the project consisted of deepening of nullah up to 3 metres, and broadening of nullah up to 7.50 metres.

At Tapni village, Agriculture Department has constructed CNB to provide water to Scheduled Caste farmers this year. When the department started work on the project, farmers opposed it. But, when they found that the water level near their farm had increased, they voluntarily gave some part of their lands to the department for CNB. The cost of construction was Rs 6.96 lakh, and that for removing silt was Rs 3.21 lakh for desilting of CNB, which is 225 metres long, 3 metres deep, and 8 metres wide.

Nitin Gajbhiye, a farmer who gave his land for this CNB, said that the project had increased the water level and hoped that it would increase further in monsoon. Gajbhiye has 12 acres of land in which he grows cotton, orange, and sweet lime.