Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Check dams in Bidar

A boon to Bidar farmers

Rishikesh Bahadur Desai
Check-dams offer irrigation facilities, revive groundwater
Over 200 check-dams have been built across streams in watershed areas
Farmers have started growing crops that need a lot of water

Plentiful:The check-dam at Sundal village has become a mini-irrigation project for farmers.
Bidar: New generation check-dams built to increase groundwater levels across Bidar district have changed the lives of farmers in the hot and dry taluk of Aurad.

The taluk receives less than 700 mm of rain, the lowest in the district. There are over 200 check-dams built across streams and watershed areas in the region, which have helped recharge groundwater and ensure that open wells and bore wells do not dry up. Besides, some have even been turned into ponds that provide irrigation facilities for farmers.

Vithal Rao Shetkar of Sundal is one of those who have benefited from the check-dams. Years ago, his family grew only those crops that did not need much water, such as jowar and black gram. However, after a check-dam was built near their village, the Shetkar brothers began to grow crops such as sugarcane and paddy that needed a lot of water.

“The check-dam impounds so much water that the backwaters form a pond. We lower our pumpsets and draw water to feed the crops,” Mr. Shetkar told The Hindu. “Three years ago, we had to depend on rainfall to raise one crop. Now, we cultivate three crops as the check-dam holds water for ten months a year,” he says.

Murli Ramachandra of Eklar village has a similar story. His brother had stopped cultivating a two-acre plot of land as there was no water. The bore well dug in the field had failed.

Water supply

However, thanks to a check-dam across the stream in his village, he now pumps water into his field. He can grow kharif crops including red gram and green gram, as well as other minor rabi grains.

“This is apart from the rise in groundwater levels,” says assistant executive engineer Hanumanth Patil.

“We never thought that check-dams would provide enough water for irrigation. Now, we are surprised by the results,” says zilla panchayat executive engineer Raju Dange. The cost-effective design of multi arch buttress check-dams, called Bidar model check-dams, has encouraged the State Government to build such water harvesting structures across the State, sources said.

“Check-dams have benefited Bidar farmers immensely. We have taken a policy decision that all further check dams in the district will be built with the multi arch buttress design. We have set aside Rs. 1 crore for check dams this year,” zilla panchayat president Naseemoddin Patel said.

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