Village Guwada is one of the six villages of Chula panchayat, in Alwar district, Rajasthan. The 350 families who live here are entirely dependent on agriculture for livelihood.
During the monsoon, a rainwater stream flows through Guwada’s panchayati land for about eight feet. This panchayati land was in the form of a rainy river with a depth of about eleven feet. In Sodawas village, the stream merges with the Sabi River. The rainwater stream flowed straight across and out of Guwada and did not benefit the villagers in any way.
In December 2020, the team under a CSR-supported partnership project implemented by S M Sehgal Foundation approached the members of Chula panchayat and the community of Guwada with a proposal to construct a check dam across this stream, so that the rainwater would accumulate in it and recharge the groundwater. This proposal was enthusiastically accepted by the people who understood that the depleting groundwater level was a problem for them.
As a first step, a village development committee (VDC) was set up, comprising of community leaders and progressive-thinking individuals. Since the project team always discusses sustainably issues at the beginning before taking up any such initiative, the VDC was entrusted with collecting a community contribution for the maintenance of the check dam after the project team left the village. The VDC was able to collect INR 75,000, which was an indication of the community’s enrollment into this activity. This amount was stored in a specially opened VDC bank account.
The check dam construction began in December 2020 and was completed in April 2021. Soon after, the monsoon started, and the villagers observed that the check dam, which was of the capacity of 33 million liters (about 5 feet in depth) filled up and emptied four times, implying that about 132 million liters of water had percolated into the ground. The three farmers whose homes are close to the check dam reported that the water level in their wells had come up by about thirty feet. The water level at a depth of about 125 feet earlier came down to about 95 feet.
The villagers were enthused upon observing these results. VDC member Mahesh Gurjar says, “My village is happy with this development, and this is an investment for our future.” Former‑sarpanch, Ramavatar Gurjar, says, “On behalf of my whole community I am thankful that the project selected our village for conducting its development work.” Jayram Gurjar added, “My field is close to the check dam, and I have observed that it has resulted in the replenishment of my village’s underground water table.”
Authors: Rahul Kumar Gupta and Indra Kumar Vyas
(Rahul and Indra are field assistants in Alwar, Rajasthan)