Gobar Times
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Water Wisdom

Passion for The Possible!

Do you know the best way to escape from a problem? Solve it! This is what the people of Jharbeda, a small village in Sundergarh; the worst hit district in Orissa as far as water scarcity is concerned, recently proved. Till two years ago, Jharbeda’s ground water was being recklessly extracted by factories, owing to the  widespread mining activities in progress in the area. The village had only one open well shared with the neighbouring village, and one hand pump at higher altitude. The hilly terrain just added to the miseries of the dwellers of Jharbeda. Today, they have access to fresh potable water through out the year.

   How? Read on!   

Depressed Dada

‘Not so long ago, Ghagra flowed with full force. Today, the land is dry and coarse.’

Oh god, show us some mercy! The water level has been dipping and the women have been spending sleepless nights fetching water from the well. Sometimes, we are left with no option but to filter the wet sands of the Ghagra to get water.



Sulking Seema

‘We are the ones bearing the brunt, in this elusive water hunt.’ Fetching water from the well and the hand pump is not the real problem. But real distress is when our kids fall sick after drinking this contaminated water. The surface water from the river is polluted by human potty as defecating in the open is common here. The water from the hand pump is laden with iron contaminants.

With no health centre and just one Anganwari having to treat more than ten children in a single day, we are down in the dumps.


Ravaged Raju

‘Nothing seems to work right. Water depletion means no yield and there seems to be no solution in sight!’ How do we plough our barren fields? With those few drops of water we manage to get after filtering wet sands? Monsoons don’t bring relief.

Rather they are a big cause of distress with the huge runoff flowing down the hill and washing away soil at the lower reaches of the hill.



Activist Avinash

‘We receive scanty rainfall, why don’t we then store all this water? It doesn’t stay because of the slope, but there are ways of stopping and storing. Of course, there are problems galore. Hand pump water is contaminated by iron and other sources by open defecation. Groundwater has hit the bottom.

But there is a way out. Choose hope, anything’s possible. Let’s construct check dams and put an end to all our problems!


   Check this out!   

  How does a check dam work

Acheck dam functions like a mini dam. Small barriers are built across the flow of water on shallow rivers and streams.

This helps in retaining excess water in a small catchment area behind the barrier.

As more water gets stored, more water is pushed into the ground with pressure. This replenishes groundwater reserves and wells which are closeby.

  Benefits of check dams

  • They are decentralized and each area can have its own dam.
  • They do not submerge large tracts of land or alter river courses.
  • They do not require complicated technology, skilled labor or financial resources like big dams. Even maintenance requires little effort.
  • They serve as an efficient catchment system when widely used in a watershed.
  • They help to counter soil erosion.

Activist Avinash, other members of his NGO Disha and a few villagers got together to construct check dams across Ghagra. The river was dammed at eight locations and the dams were made of local rocks. The first dam checked the water flowing down the hill. The water stopped and collected there, recharging the groundwater below. The overflow of water behind the dam flowed down to the second dam and so on.

Soon enough, the groundwater got recharged and the increase in the water level got noticed by the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Department. This led them to install three hand pumps in the region. Today, the agricultural plots downstream use the rivulet water for irrigation. The villagers now have access to fresh potable water through out the year!

Inputs - Susmita Sengupta


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Passion for the possible!