03Jul2014

Water Projects in Mewat

In Mewat, Haryana, India, ground water is depleting at approximately 25 centimeters per year and water salinity is increasing in many areas. Water salinity affects crop yield and limits the variety of crops that can be grown. Approximately 80% of land is cultivated in Mewat, and 44% of this is irrigated. Ground water is used almost exclusively (95%) for irrigation, and generally only provides enough water for one crop per year. Approximately 30% of households own wells or tube wells. All of this is leading to a rapid depletion of ground water. This is of great concern for villages in Mewat as without groundwater, many villagers will be unable to cultivate crops or have easy access to drinking water in the future.

An integrated water management plan was needed in each village to address the water concerns. The first step would involve studying topography, water flow, soil characteristics, and communities’ traditional knowledge. After studying these various areas, interventions could be designed and installed. Sehgal Foundation carried out several technical interventions to help improve water sustainability in 17 villages around Mewat. These interventions included check dams, gully plugs, recharge wells, soak pits, and roof water harvesting units.

Sehgal Foundation partnered with Mewat Development Agency (MDA), a statutory body responsible for the development of Mewat district. Together, they are working to ensure that villages have access to clean drinking water. The project is called Groundwater Recharging and Integrated Watershed Development Program (IWDP). This first part of IWDP involves increasing the storage level of the existing check dam in Kotla, and construction of check dams in Bangali Khola, Kotla and in Bhond village. The second part of IWDP entails reconstruction of the Kuchha road to school, enhancing the rainwater harvesting capacity, and leveling and surface treatment of existing bandh.

For the first part of the project, Bangali Khola in Kotla was selected for the construction of a check dam. Sehgal Foundation asked villagers to donate to the project in order to ensure that the dam would be sustainable. By investing directly in the project, villagers would be motivated to take on repair work to preserve the dam in the future. The community decided that they would contribute a minimum of Rs. 25,000 towards construction of the dam. The poorest members of the village contributed their labor during construction.

The check dam in Bhond collects rainwater on a catchment area of over 5 square kilometers and keeps depletion of the water table in check. Up until construction of the dam, Bhond’s ground water table was depleting by 1 ft. every year. This check dam is expected to recharge the ground water by approximately three times the quantity of total water demand in the village.

For the second part of the project, Ranhala Rajpur was selected. Various ponds were dug up and linked to maximize utilization of the existing 1.5 km long earthen bandh that was constructed by Sehgal Foundation 4 years ago. By increasing the depth of area under water, Sehgal Foundation was able to increase the water storage capacity and minimize the risk of water breaching the surface. Sehgal Foundation also worked on reconstructing the Kuchha road to school in Rangala Rajpur. The road was in such a bad condition that it formed large puddles of water and posed a great risk for children. The project would help to improve growth of crops in the area, allow 50 acres of fallow land to be cultivated, and save 40 acres of land from flooding. The project would also work on establishing horticulture nurseries and planting of deep-rooted trees to improve water recharging into the ground.

His Excellency, the Governor of Haryana, Dr. A R Kidwai addressed a gathering in Rangala Rajpur village in Mewat district of Haryana on February 25, 2009. At the gathering, he dedicated the rainwater-harvesting infrastructure established in these areas to the village communities. The IWDP was a fantastic effort by Sehgal Foundation, Mewat Development Agency, and Mewat villagers for developing sustainable water infrastructure technologies and improving crop output.

For more information, please contact:
Email: communications@smsfoundation.org