Agri Business

Models that can help tide over the scarcity

AJ Vinayak Puttur/Belthangady/Sirsi | Updated on April 11, 2019 Published on April 11, 2019

P Venugopal, a farmer from Patte village in Dakshina Kannada district , uses contour-trenching to conserve water AJ VINAYAK   -  AJ VINAYAK

 

Patte Venugopal, a farmer from Patte village in Puttur taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, makes it a point to use rainwater to the maximum extent possible in his 15-acre rubber plantation.

His water management method in the rubber plantation located on a slope helps recharge ground water table of the traditional water tank on an acre of land located at the base of the plantation.

Showing the contour trenching method he followed in his rubber plantation to this reporter, Venugopal said it has increased the water table in the traditional water tank in his farm and surrounding regions over the years.

Since 2011, he has been taking up contour trenching in rubber plantation. The contour trenches need not be deep, but they should be able to arrest the flowing water during the monsoon in the trenches. The water thus percolated into the earth has shown results by the increase in the ground water table in his farm and the surrounding areas. “We need to take up projects that are suitable for the topography of the region for water conservation,” he said.

While Venugopal could make use of the topography for better water management in his individual capacity, Shivaprasad P, another villager from Patte, was not successful in convincing the departments concerned on the need to take the advantage of topography of two hillocks in the village for better water conservation.

Shivaprasad said he had proposed constructing a bund between two small hillocks to the village panchayat, the Social Forestry Department, and the Watershed Development Department. He said his father had constructed a bund at that location four decades ago and he had seen it benefiting the paddy and arecanut plantations downstream. Water was there till February-end and March beginning. Vegetables were grown then.

He said the construction of a bund on this valley-like topography would help store water up to 800 metres. Effectively, this will help recharge ground water table on around 40 acres of the catchment area.

“Though I told the departments concerned that I will construct the bund on my own for the benefit of the village, each department is passing the buck on this without giving any permission for this work,” he said.

Stressing the need for integrated water management at village-level, Joseph NM, a professor from Belthangady, who has done his doctoral thesis on water resource management, said rejuvenation of open wells, ponds, check dams, vented dams, and bunds should be taken up on a war-footing in villages. Referring to the topography of coastal Karnataka, he said percolation pits should be set up on the available land in villages. Apart from recharging the ground water table, it will help reduce the over-exploitation of ground water table through borewells and other means. All the departments concerned should come together for this purpose, he said.

Talking about the rise in temperature in most parts of coastal Karnataka during this summer, he said the ground water table feeds the streams and rivers in the region. With the decline in ground water table, the rivers and streams are also going dry, he said, adding that the reduction in water content leads to increase in temperature.

Highlighting the importance of contour trenching, he said the hill slopes are getting drier every year. The water falling on earth is joining sea as surface runoff. If people don’t go in for percolation pits then there is an impending danger in the form of water scarcity, he said.

Belthangady taluk had around 2,000 check dams two decades ago, but hardly a few of them are functional now. There is good scope for increasing water table in Belthangady taluk, if people take steps to recharge them by October-November.

Joseph, along with the students of his college, has been rejuvenating traditional water conservation methods such as check dams and water percolation pits at Madanthyar in Belthangady taluk.

He also harvests around 10 lakh litres of rainwater from his house in Madanthyar. One half of this is used for recahrging the open well in his compound, the rest is used by him and his family.

Shivanda Kalave, a water activist from Sirsi, suggested that traditional bunds are the good measure to conserve water and increase water table.

Stating that that the natural landscape in the coastal region has been altered over the years, he said earlier there were no roads in the ghats. People also constructed drainage there. Concrete constructions helped increase the speed of water flow.

Though the coastal region got copious water from Western Ghats earlier, water movement along its course did not have speed. There were soft wood forests along the river course in Western Ghat section. The roots used to help in conserving water.

Even if 10 per cent of water falling on the earth is conserved by this natural method, it will help in water flow in rivers.

Published on April 11, 2019
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