Shalina Laboratories took up a water conservation project on the Agrani river in Kavthe Mahakal taluka in Sangli District, which has been dry for many decades. This has been successfully made fertile again.
The initiative by Shalina Labora-tories has transformed Kavathe Mahankal Taluka, situated in the Agrani river basin — which has been known as a drought belt for the past several decades and has now been classified as a horticultural belt.
This project was carried out in partnership with Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS), which is led by renowned hydrologist Dr Rajendrasingh, the ‘Waterman of India’. TBS studies classified the area as a priority one, needing to be worked upon to bring relief to farmers and villagers. Many of the children of the farmers had to go to the city to earn a living for their families.
Shalina Laboratories implemented its water conservation project in two phases. The first phase started in January 2020. It benefitted three villages of Nangole, Pimpalwadi and Agran Dhulgaon. The second phase benefitted six villages Kuktoli, Mhaishal M, Karoli T, Hingangaon, Shindevadi H, and Rampurwadi.
The entire project was completed in three years. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the project was on hold. However, during this time relentless support from Shalina Laboratories ensured the timely completion of the project.
The project included the deepening-widening of Agrani river tributaries, deep Continuous Contour Trenches (CCT), the building of Matinala dams and the plantation of trees. Deepening and widening of streams were conducted on a 12-km stretch covering different tributaries to remove the fine silt and sediment that was collected in the river to restore its natural capacity. By doing so, the natural storage capacity of the river increased, which resulted in more percolation of water in the ground.
Widening of tributaries |
CCT was done on a total area of 75 hectares. This prevented water from flowing downhill in its tracks by the trenches and water percolation into the soil was facilitated. This helped in collecting the rainwater and increased the groundwater levels. Altogether 13 matti nallah bandhs (small earthen dams) were made at the base of the hills to capture the rainwater. When these were made along with CCT on the hill, it created a larger impact as these nallahs were capable of collecting rainwater, which somehow was not captured by the CCTs.
Water accumulation in tributaries after rains |
Trees were planted at widened tributaries so that the roots of the plants hold the soil at the banks of the river and the soil doesn’t run into the river and silt it. A total of 12,000 trees were planted.
As a part of the project, Shalina Laboratories, with the support of Tarun Bharat Sangh, took up an innovative experiment of Miyawaki Forest — a concept that helps build dense native forests. The approach ensured that plant growth is 10 times faster and the resulting plantation is 30 times denser than usual — wherever there are water bodies, the forest becomes perennial which helps the forest remain green throughout the year. Miyawaki Forest was imple-mented on a total area of 5000 sq ft at two locations.
The project by Shalina Laboratories has not only removed the encroach-ment, widened the stream, and created crores of litres of storage capacity but also made the barren/ wastelands of the surrounding areas fertile with alluvial soil.
On seeing the work, Dr. Rajendra-singh said, “Channelling a channel is a boon that Shalina Laboratories has bestowed on the local villagers.”
The work by Shalina Laboratories has substantially increased the groundwater level due to which villagers no longer require water tankers. Where most of the farmers used to grow one crop depending on rain, farmers have started growing three crops a year.
CCT after rains |
During the discussion with the farmers from the area, they said that the level of the water table that was decreasing in the area has drastically increased and has had a ripple effect on the agricultural produce as well. “Because we used to use saline water from borewells for the garden, it never allowed the plants to bear full crop. Now that we have permanent water in the stream on the side of the farm, instead of using borewell water we use well water for the garden. This has helped our gardens to flourish.”
Shalina Laboratories distributed mango seedlings to every farmer in all the above-mentioned villages to increase the annual production of the farmers residing in the area. Currently, the growth of those plants is good. Next year, all these plants will begin to bear fruit, and the annual production of the farmers will increase significantly.
Testimonials of villagers
Nitin Gadade Rampurwadi, Kavathemahakal, Sangli
Our area has a good amount of vineyard but the borewell water supply to the vineyard was adversely affecting the yield. Because the amount of salt in the borewell water was high, it either reduced production or increased the cost of fertilisers and medicines. Shalina Laboratories’ work in the removal of silt from the stream has ensured that our wells had water. The well water used for the vineyard showed a significant increase in the production of grapes. Also, it was unhygienic as the river was flowing from the side of the village itself. Due to the unsanitary nature of the stream, the number of mosquitoes was high, so children in the village were constantly suffering from diseases like typhoid and malaria, which were completely eradicated by the deepening and widening of this stream.
Dattatarey Patil Kuktoli, Kavathemahakal, Sangli
Our village is on the highest level in the Agrani river valley. Our village has plenty of forest land. But due to the lack of treatment needed to block the water in this forest land, the rain falling in monsoons flowed non-stop into our village and went to the lower village. Our village has always faced drought. Through the Shalina Laboratories project of Deep Continuous Contouring Trenches (Deep CCT), large earthen dams were done on 50 hectares of forest land in our village. Every drop of rain falls into those dug grooves and the benefit is that the wells and borewells of our villagers at the foot of the hill are well-watered. This water conservation work has changed our life to great extent, I thank Shalina Laboratories, for taking up this project.
Dyaneshwar Bhosale Agran Dhulgoan, Kavathemahakal, Sangli
Earlier, we were harvesting only seasonal crops but through the Shalina Laboratories project the deepening and widening work was done and we farmers were transformed. While widening, I spread the silt from the paddy field on my fallow land. Today, I have 22 acres of horticultural area. The rest of the area will soon come under horticulture. Now, we are not afraid to invest in agriculture because we now have access to sustainable water due to the deepening of the stream.
Shivdas BhosaleAgran Dhulgoan, Kavathemahakal, Sangli
My Agran Dhulgaon village is situated on the banks of the river Agrani. In the last few decades, the Kala Odha was completely filled with silt. Therefore, the farmers in the catchment area of Kala Odha were always in drought. The deepening and widening of the Kala Odha started with the funding of Shalina Laboratories through Tarun Bharat Sangh. The farmers brought the silt released during the deepening and spread it on their fields with tractors and dumpers, so hundreds of acres of barren land in Agran Dhulgaon became cultivable. Also, due to the release of silt from the stream, a large amount of water accumulated in the Matinala dam on the streams. That stored water seeps into the ground and the bore wells in the vicinity have greatly benefited.
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