Posted by: Wasrag | October 6, 2010

Innovative Watershed Project Involves Holistic Approach.

Rotarians meet regularly with villagers to monitor progress of every aspect of the project.

While the development of sustainable and safe drinking water supplies is a global challenge, it is particularly acute in India, given its high population density, space and unpredictability of rainfall, and increasing depletion and contamination of its surface and ground water resources.

In a survey of India’s water situation, Fred Pearce reported in the New Scientist that the 21 million wells drilled are lowering water tables in most parts of the country. Tushaar Shah, who heads the International Water Management Institute’s ground water station in the State of Gujarat (India), reports:

  • In North Gujarat, the water table is falling by 19 feet per year;
  • In Tamil Nadu, a State with more than 62 million people in southern India, wells are going dry almost everywhere and falling water tables have dried up 95 per cent of the wells owned by small farmers, reducing the irrigated area in the State by half over the last decade.
  • As water tables fall, well drillers are using modified oil-drilling technology to reach water, going as deep as 3,250 feet in some locations.
  • In communities where underground water sources have dried up entirely, all agriculture is rain-fed and drinking water is trucked in.

Over 300 "gully plugs" are included in the project

Mass scale deforestation (with forest cover estimated at just below 4% of land area); improper management of land-use; low level of success with State-funded water projects due to corruption and inefficiency – are helping create a vicious circle of poverty, land degradation and low productivity. In this regard, increased availability of medium and small-scale, people-based water management technologies will significantly help small landholder farmers and increase rural prosperity. Community-based watershed development projects have in many instances demonstrated excellent results, but need to be scaled up, particularly as India continues to be a predominantly agrarian economy,with the majority of its population dependent

One of the dams was of reinforced concrete

on agriculture for their livelihood. Agriculture contributes 27 per cent to the country’s GDP and employs more than 60 per cent of its workforce.

Filthy water - but nothing else is available during summer. Imagine walking 6 - 8 miles for it!

There is growing awareness of the need for innovative solutions but few are forthcoming in the region where this program is located. The Rotary Club has learned a lot from its previous Watershed program begun in May 2007 which is now showing excellent results. This new program will build on the Club’s knowledge and help to scale-up solutions in the region and beyond.

What was more crucial was to develop a plan for rapid economic development of these villages through a holistic strategy for providing sufficient water for drinking and agriculture + all-round improvements in agricultural practices, nutrition, education, family income ….. and empowerment of women.

The solution was to opt for a “Watershed Area Development” program. The core objective of this type of project is “ to save every drop of rain water and put it to productive use.” It is achieved by a series of interwoven, and complex, activity areas that weave together to form the whole.

The proposed project is financially self-sustaining and tackles both the need for a permanent solution to water scarcity, and a significant boost to economic development. It has been designed with the participation and support of the 1900 residents of Kegva Village. They are committed to plant, build and maintain the forests and earthworks planned by Rotary, and implemented by NIRID, under the supervision of an expert consultant, Dr. B. P. Patil. Dr. Patil has a Ph.D. in Agriculture with extensive experience with similar projects for the Bombay Mid Town club and Government of India. Kegva Village is 95 miles north of Mumbai. It is far from any major highway, 3 miles from the nearest bus stop, and very poor. Agriculture is wholly rain-dependent, making only one crop possible during the four-month monsoon. Its terrain of 895 hectares is well suited for the proposed Program. High ground on all sides has become a wasteland after the original forest cover was cut down, and the topsoil washed away. But by using just a limited number of mini dams (gully plugs), these existing erosion channels can soon be converted into monsoon catchments.

Other Program impacts are as follows:

Safe, Ample Water Supply

90 million gallons of water re-charge for the proposed aquifer…and an additional couple of million gallons stored in the catchment area of the two existing dams will permit three crop growing seasons instead of one; food and horticulture gardens instead of wasteland; and safe drinking water instead of dry wells and streams. There will be a substantial decrease in the incidence of water-borne diseases, and a marked improvement in sanitation standards.


105,000 saplings will be planted on 65 hectares and 5,000 fruit trees will be planted on 25 hectares. Fuel wood tree growth is completed in four years, when one-fourth of the trees will be cut and replanted, providing a sustainable future wood-fuel supply. Other impacts besides capturing rainwater, include improving the microclimate, and attracting birds and wildlife.
Above all, t

he trees will help absorb approximately 4.2 million Kgs ( about 1875 tons) of CO2 emission, entitling Kegva villagers to benefit from sale of ‘Carbon Credits’ in the international market.

Soil Conservation

In addition to capturing run-off to recharge the aquifer, providing gullies and watercourses with

Rotarian Arrow Sinha Roy, Wasrag Chair Ron Denham, PDG Bansi, Representatives of Water Committee & NIRID

Gully Plugs and building contour staggered trenches will prevent soil erosion. Steep 5 to 20 degree slopes are now barren, propelling rapid monsoon runoff. By capturing water runoff, these structures will stop soil erosion, enabling the restoration of fertile patches of land.

Agricultural Bund Repair

The mini-dams and embankments farmers have built around their fields are usually in disrepair, allowing rainwater to escape. These leaks will be stopped to maximize water harvesting and farmers will be trained to maintain these structures.

Horticulture and Fruit Orchards for Food and Income

250 village women will be instructed on planting and tending kitchen gardens. Small plots (33 ft x 33 ft.) will be planted on wasteland with five types of vegetables. Better nutrition will lead to better health. After meeting their families’ needs, surplus produce will be sold in public markets to earn Rs. 500/600/month for the women who currently have no personal income. As far better stewards of their earnings than men, the Program will empower women to make sound family spending decisions, starting with school enrollment for their children.

Medical Care

Contaminated water, lack of sanitation facilities, and the absence of medical aids, leads to contagious diseases.

The objective of this component is to build a strong work force with healthy families! A majority of the villagers are

now malnourished and anemic. Infant mortality is high, 90% have skin disease, and other ailments are common. The Program will organize regular medical camps with various specialists. Iron and Vitamin tablets as well as de-worming medication will be mass distributed, and villagers will be tr

ained in hygiene, healthcare, and nutrition. Bombay Mid Town club is also planning regular visits by a doctor and networking with Rural Hospitals of repute, so as to persuade them to include Kegva in their ‘Mobile Hospital’ circuits for a fee.

Medical Camps are held each year with specialists of various types


A good “Anganwadi” (pre-school) will be built, and other existing educational facilities will be better equipped with toys and teaching aids. The ‘Middle’ schools will be improved and more teachers will be recruited. Currently, there are only five dingy classrooms, with no electricity or fans. There are only teachers who oversee the 200 kids. There is no playground, library, large atlas, or even classroom teaching aids/posters.

The Rotary Club of Bombay Midtown has started on Phase 1 of this project with a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant of $ 58,000 (co-sponsored by RC Seattle #4 and RC Parker) Now they are looking for a partners for the $ 133,000 needed for Phase II .

This project has been listed on



  1. I am very interested in your watershed project in Kegva village , near Mumbai.

    • Dear Simons,

      I was happy to read about your interest in our Waytershed poject at Kegva, ner Mumbai. You may contact me with any questions and I will be only too happy to provide the answers.

      Arrow Sinha Roy

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