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Rashmin Sanghvi & Associates

Chartered Accountants

109, 1st Floor, Arun Chambers,
Tardeo Road,
Mumbai - 400 034,
Maharashtra, India.

Tel. Nos.: (+91 22) 2351 1878, 2352 5694.

Fax : (+91 22) 2351 5275.

Email : [email protected]

 
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Friends of VSSM & Dharampur

Date: 30 April 2016

Dear Friends,

Tharad April 2016 Visit – Report

1. Annual Dinner:

Our annual dinner for the current year is arranged on Saturday, the 18th June, 2016 at Matunga. The time for meeting of all Friends of VSSM & Dharampur with Trustees of Charitable Trusts will be between 5.00 to 7.00 pm - followed by dinner.

Trustees of all trusts being helped by you will be present at the meeting. Please keep yourself free on 18th evening.

We will send you a detailed invitation for the meeting.

2. Tharad Water Management:

VSSM has taken up a project of water management for a few villages of Tharad.
Ms. Mittal Patel & I went to three villages and discussed with the villagers to start desilting of lakes etc. Please see below report of our visit to Tharad.

The drought situation in some parts of Maharashtra is partly due to (i) over exploitation of ground water; and
(ii) not recharging the ground water. We would like to avoid similar mistake in Gujarat.

Our hope is: present water management project will increase farm incomes & avoid drought situation.

Summary:

In Tharad west area, there was tremendous water logging due to floods in July 2015. All these waters have been removed and the villagers are happy about the project. In Tharad east area underground water has gone below 700 feet depth. We have taken up projects for recharging the underground water.

At present Maharashtra is suffering acute drought situation. One of the reasons is excessive exploitation of underground water table. Our project in Gujarat will prevent depletion of underground water. If carried out on a large scale, it will tremendously boost agricultural activities in the area and will give sufficient drinking water.

Ms. Mittal Patel, Shardabahen - Karyakar of VSSM, and I went to Tharad and met the farmers of villages in Tharad Taluka on 24th & 25 April 2016. Sharda bahen had done all the preparatory ground work.

1. Jamnagar:

On 24th morning I made a presentation at Jamnagar Rotary Club on the following subject: Prime Minister’s dreams for Indian Economy. If these dreams are properly planned & executed, India can have continuously for next twenty years – a GDP growth rate of 10% and above. Same presentation will be made at a study circle in Bombay Chartered Accountants’ Society, Mumbai in the third week of May 2016.

2. West of Tharad:

From Jamnagar I went to Tharad and reached in the evening. Mittal & Sharda joined at Tharad. We had requested a few farmers from Tharad – Todgam, Khanpur and Nagla villages to meet us at the hotel. We had a good discussion for almost two hours on the following subjects:

Water Logging caused due to floods in July, 2015; and Further water Management programme.

These farmers were seriously adversely affected by the flood of July 2015. Water upto the depth of 10 to 15 feet was lying in a big area of 3 kms by 2 kms. Some of the farmers had suffered loss exceeding Rs. 1 crore. All their standing trees died, grains and other stocks in their godowns had been spoiled and their houses, pumps, drip irrigation systems - all had been seriously damaged. Thousands of cattle have died in the flood. Despite such massive losses, the farmers have not asked for any doles or charity for their personal benefits. They were cheerfully discussing- how to improve their future.

With the tremendous efforts by VSSM team, and donations from Friends of VSSM, one large lake had been desilted. Then a massive operation of removing the water was conducted by Government of Gujarat. This water was pumped into three village lakes. These lakes were now full of water.

By the end of March, all the water has been removed. Now under the summer heat of April & May the water logged earth will become dry and it will be ready for agriculture during monsoon. The farmers were happy for removal of the water.

Incidentally they said that while the water was been removed, a lot of fish died. I asked them whether it was possible to transport the fish to nearby lakes. They showed me video clips taken on their mobile phones. In such a large area, millions of fish had flourished during the period of July 2015 to February, 2016. It was physically impossible to transport such large number of fish. During the month of February thousands of birds from all over came down to Tharad to enjoy the fish. The farmers said that there were many birds that they had not seen in their life time. How the message about easy catch of fish had reached all birds at different places is a wonder of the nature.

Village Equations:

After these farmers went, Shardabahen told us the story of one of the farmers. He has suffered losses far in excess of a crore of rupees. He is the same farmer who accepted the responsibility for executing the work of water removal. Under his able guidance the work was successfully completed. Being a self-respecting person, he has never told us about his losses nor has he asked for any financial help. In fact, he invited us to stay at his home. Other farmers in the area knew that this gentleman was in serious trouble and he would not ask for any help from any one. Hence one day, two or three friends went together to his home. They gave him a sealed envelope of cash Rs. 50 lakhs. Told him to redevelop his entire farm, horticulture, plantation and the house and repay whenever able to pay.

No appeal, no receipt, no conditions and the loan of Rs. 50 lakhs in cash.

3. East of Tharad:

Vadgamda Village: Ramjibhai:

On Monday the 25th April morning we went to village Vadgamda on the west side of Tharad. We met Shri Ramjibhai Chaudhary and his two sons. The first matter of joy was: Both his sons are highly educated. One is a Bachelor of Engineering and another is a master of science. Despite these qualifications they don’t want to take up a job anywhere. They are helping their father in regular agricultural activities. This is in contrast to the normal trend in Gujarat – where the children of farmers do not want to carry on farming.

With the good luck of Shri Ramjibhai and his family, almost entire land belonging to them is at a higher level. Hence they have not suffered any damages during July 2015 floods. They have about 2,000 pomegranate trees. He is planning to plant 3,000 more pomegranate trees. This is only one part of his agricultural activities.

Shardabahen had met Shri Ramjibhai and many villagers at Vadgamda. She found Ramjibhai to be the leader in Vadgamda and a person who would understand and accept new ideas. Hence she had arranged our meeting.

We discussed at length the position of underground water in the area. It is an urgent necessity for all the farmers that proper rain water harvesting schemes are carried out. Shri Ramjibhai said that in Vadgamda almost every farmer has got one or more tube wells. In all, there would be about 200 tube wells in Vadgamda itself. During my last visit another villager had said that there should be about 50 tube wells in Vadgamda. It is difficult to get accurate reliable figures. However, the fact is that underground water is being exploited by the farmers at a very fast rate in an area where the rainfall is extremely low. This is an arid area. We can’t see soil anywhere. We can see only sand. Normally all this area was lying barren. However, during last 30 to 40 years people have started digging bore wells and irrigated land with underground water.

4. Underground Water Table empty:

Ramjibhai clearly understands that:
40 years back water was available in the top layer of 30 to 50 feet of land. Ordinary wells were able to give drinking water. Now entire upper layer of 50 feet of earth has gone dry. There is no water in this layer. It means, roots of the normal trees find it very difficult to get water. Framers pump water from a depth of 700 to 800 feet and irrigate their own farms. But other trees don’t get water.

Thereafter, from below 50 feet upto 400 feet the underground water is saline. Hence this water is of no use.

This is the position even in Kutch. During my learning days of the years 1992 to 1994 with Shri Vivekanand Research & Training Institute, Mandvi; I had learned about the serious underground water table position in Kutch.

 

Discussing water management with Shri Ramjibhai Chaudhary of Vadgamda.

 

In Palanpur district also water table position is similar. After the water table of saline water, for further 200 to 300 feet, the land holds no water. Farmers had made bore wells beyond 500 feet and taken out all the water. Hence now if any farmer wants underground water, he has to take it from below 700 feet.

There are many borewells which were dug upto a depth of 500 to 600 feet. They have gone dry. They have been abandoned. Over the years, the borewell pipes have corroded and become porous. The saline water enters these pipes and goes below the depth of 500 feet and spoils sweet water in the lowest strata.

There are many borewells which were dug upto a depth of 500 to 600 feet. They have gone dry. They have been abandoned. Over the years, the borewell pipes have corroded and become porous. The saline water enters these pipes and goes below the depth of 500 feet and spoils sweet water in the lowest strata.

 

 

5. Remedy:

We have discussed the remedial position as under:

5.1. Initially, two lakes in Vadgamda are to be desilted. The silt which has become black soil is fertile soil for the farmers. They will take it to their own farms. VSSM will pay the hire charges of earth removing machinery – JCB. Farmers will bring their own tractor trolleys to carry the soil. Once the black soil is removed, other soil is not useful for farms. That soil may be utilised for land filling, road strengthening etc.

This project requires a lot of management, explaining and seeking co-operation from all the people. Shri Ramjibhai has taken the responsibility of desilting of both the lakes. VSSM will provide finance from the donations received from Shri Sudhirbhai Thackersey – a Friend of VSSM. Shardabahen will supervise the work on behalf of VSSM.

With the desilting of the lakes, we hope that substantial rain water will percolate into the underground. If the water table at the top 50 feet rises, it will be good for the trees standing in the area. The farmers of Vadgamda have lots of trees. Their irrigation requirements will go down. The water will be available for people to use and for animals to drink.

5.2 Dead Borewells:

We need to identify all the borewells which have gone dead. These are the borewells which are acting as a link between the saline water upto 400 feet and the sweet water strata below the 400 feet. These dead bore wells need to be identified. Corrective action needs to be taken.

5.3 Recharge Borewells:

The lake water will not go below the depth of 50 feet. At present hundreds of borewells in this area are taking out water from below the 400 feet strata. It is like hundreds of people drawing money from the bank accounts. No body is depositing money in the bank accounts. Naturally, the underground water table is receding every year. None of the farmers is worried today that after two to five years no water will be available for tube well irrigation. We are not a day sooner than necessary to start a massive recharging programme.

A recharge borewell does the function of taking top rain water to the underground below the 400 feet strata. A borewell is necessary because by the natural process the rain water will not reach the lowest strata. At the same time it must be ensured that the saline water doesn’t get into borewell pipes. Once the pipes cross the saline water, they may be taken to a further depth of 50 feet for the safety margin. Then the water may be dropped into the strata.

In the lakes & rivers on the surface of the land, there are natural processes for cleaning of water. In the underground, there are no such processes available. Hence we have to ensure that the rain water gets into the recharge borewell only after filtration.

Recharge borewells are a difficult and technical process. Hence Ramjibhai’s sons will take the responsibility of executing recharge borewells. No such recharge borewell has been executed in Tharad area. We (I & VSSM) take the responsibility of bringing in the technical knowledge. Ramjibhai’s sons take the responsibility of executing the technical process.

Initial target is that Vadgamda shall be the lead/model village. It will execute one recharge borewell. Once the process is successful, all the villages in this area should have atleast one recharge borewell.

5.4 A recharge borewell works on the following lines:

Normally it is installed within a lake or a low lying area. During the monsoon the installation should receive maximum amount of rain water. A trench of 20 feet X 20 feet X 20 feet is to be dug up. This will be filled in with layers of filtration materials – like char coal, sand and brick pieces. At the centre of this trench the borewell pipe will be inserted. This pipe will be perforated at the top 20 feet. The perforations will be covered with filter cloth. The pipe will go to the depth of 500 feet and will be having perforations at the bottom 20 feet.

When the rain water enters the trench, the top layer of sand will filter out most of the hard impurities in the water. The layer of char coal will remove dissolved soil and colour from the water. Further layers of sand and bricks will remove all impurities. This water will enter into the borewell pipe through the perforations. The sand will be prevented by the filter cloth from entering the pipes. Hence reasonably cleaned water will enter the borewell. Since the pipe will have no perforations while passing through the saline water, there will be no mixing of saline water with sweet water. Once the rain water reaches the depth of 500 feet, it will be dropped into the strata. This water will find its own level.

When it rains, the lake will be filled in. Within a few days entire water will disappear into the underground. If during the monsoon the lake is filled-in 2 to 3 times, that much more water will go to the underground.

We had pleasant talks with Ramjibhai and his family.

Ramjibhai also requested Mittal for another favour. In his own words: “There is a young widow who has a son aged around 3 years. He is suffering from paralytic stroke. The lady is working in my farm as a labourer. Being young, it is possible that she will get re-married. Who will take care of the disabled child?” Mittal met the child and promised medical treatment to the extent practical and further support.

6. Zenta Village:

As discussed in my earlier reports, Zenta Village has a temple of Nishkalank Mahadeo. This temple is highly respected in the area. A large plot of almost 500 acres surrounding the temple has been left totally untouched. The village understanding is that this land belongs to the temple. Nobody can break even a small branch of a tree. Forget about the cutting a single tree. The villagers of Zenta village and surrounding villages take care of this land and the temple. The management of the temple is in the hands of the farmers of the area. Shri Khanabhai is an important member of the committee.

 

 

Mittal, Shardabahen & I discussing with Shri Khanabhai of Zenta village.

Environment Protection by Village:

Shardabahen had visited Zenta village and discussed the subject of digging several lakes in the 500 acres plot of land. The temple management said a blunt and strong “NO”. However, Shri Khanabhai was courteous enough to talk with us. He explained in an elaborate talk how they take care of the land and preserve the environment in the area. He said that the management cannot allow digging a single lake in the area – because by definition, a lake will involve removal of several trees and they will not allow a removal of single tree.

I offered him completely different plan: “Let us drop the idea of lakes. My only purpose is to ensure that abundant amount of rainfall goes underground. Instead of the water running into the rivers and then into the sea, it should be stored in the underground for the benefit of the local people. Since we cannot cut a single tree let us dig trenches. A trench may be of 2 feet width or 20 feet. It may be 2 feet deep or 5 feet deep depending upon the area available. Without disturbing a single tree we can dig 5,000 trenches in a plot of 500 acres. These trenches will serve the purpose of perforating the surface of the land. On a normal land surface the rain water runs away. When the land is perforated by trenches the speed of the water goes down. In the monsoon all the trenches will be full of water and that water will percolate under the ground. This purpose can be achieved while maintaining their protocol for preservation of environment. In fact, our project will help entire area becoming lush green. Khanabhai understood the project.

However, he has several other problems. The village has several communities – Patels, Thakurs & Harijans. Patels are farmers with large land and own tractors. The Thakurs & Harijans are poor people. They may or may not have land. They do not have any tractors. When the lake digging project is undertaken, valuable black soil would go to the Patels. The Thakurs & Harijans will not able to take black soil. Hence they would not like the entire project. On 24th April there were big tussles in Zenta village and Khanabhai was fed up with internal problems. Shardabahen had told us several serious problems of internal strife within the village. Instead of inviting any problems, temple management would love to reject the water management project. However, when we reached Khanabhai’s home at Zenta village on 25th April, he did not say a single word about any internal strife. In fact he praised the whole village for exceptional unity and their respect for the Nishkalank Mahadeo. I did not say anything but personally hats off to Khanabhai for maintaining the prestige and dignity of his village.

Khanabhai understood and accepted the water management proposal. However, for him convincing all the villagers from - different communities & different financial positions is a difficult task. Finally it was resolved that: Let Vadgamda people execute the lake desilting project. Khanabhai will take his villagers to Vadgamda. When they will see the success in Vadgamda, the villagers may have a demonstration effect. Then after the monsoon we can again try and convince the villagers. If all the villagers agree, water management can be executed at Niskalank Mahadeo plot of land.

Even at Khanabhai’s home his sons are highly educated. They are also not looking out for employment outside. They are helping the family in their farming activities.

Khanabhai is irrigating his farms. Hence he has mango, chickoo and pomegranate trees. There is a large cultivation of Jeera and other cash crops.

 

 

At Khanabhai’s farm, mangoes grow at a height of one foot. Kiara (Mittal’s daughter) with the mangoes.

7. Vadia Village:

From Zenta village we went to Vadia village. Many people had gone out because of some marriage or other function. However, some prominent people had specifically stayed back to meet us. We assembled at the village school building and discussed.

Every square foot available in Vadia village is being used for agriculture. There is only one small lake/pond in the village. This was dug out during April / May 2015. During July 2015 floods considerable quantity of silt has settled in the lake. This silt has to be removed.

At Vadia also the issue was: Who will take the black soil from the lake? Those villagers who have no land and no tractors are of villagers who have land & tractors. Hence the poor villagers have proposed that: “The black soil collected in the lake is a common property of the society. It should not go to the private farms of any farmer. It must be used for land filling and road strengthening.” I told them: “Black soil is like gold for a farmer. Other ordinary soil is like steel. Ordinary soil can be used for land filling. But using black soil for land filling is like: - Using gold for making tongs (સાણસી). Do you use gold for making tongs or steel for making tongs?”. “The village leaders who are more concerned with avoiding the internal strife said: we don’t mind using gold for making tongs. But we don’t want quarrels in the village.”

 

 

Discussions with Vadia villagers at school building.

We decided to leave the issue to the villagers. It was decided that they will desilt the existing lake. We can make one recharging tube well inside the lake. There is another low lying area in the village. Normally it gets flooded during the monsoon. It is a private land owned by a villager an old lady - Hiribahen. She cannot do any farming during monsoon. She can only take the winter crop. If she permits a 20 feet by 20 feet plot of land, we can make a recharge tube well in her land. With this tube well all the rain water will go underground. Her farm will be open for monsoon agricultural activities. She will also benefit and the village also will benefit.

Vadia village has more population per acre of land available. There is really only one lake. In other villages, there are several lakes. Vadia needs lot of recharging of water. Hence the broad plan is to make 3 or 4 recharge tube wells in Vadia. For this purpose, the villages have to find out appropriate places for recharge borewells. The places should be such that receive rain water in abundant quantities.

8. We took a round of the area. There are several villages which have their own lakes. All these lakes can be desilted and every village can have atleast one recharge borewell.

However, no work can be conducted during monsoon. In the one month now left - May, 2016; only Vadgamda may execute recharge borewell project. With the experience from that project, we can plan for recharge borewells in all the surrounding areas.

There is a whole macro system in place:

VSSM leads the water management. Villagers will take responsibility & execute the work. Friends of VSSM provide the finance for the projects. All of us are together in this noble work.

Pranam

For Core Group of
Friends of VSSM & Dharampur
Convenor

Rashmin Sanghvi

P. s. Now we are helping the NGOs working in the villages of Jawhar & Vikramgadh. We are also assisting M/s. Caring Friends in their work of Drought Relief in Aurangabad District of Maharashtra. Mentioning any location in our name is now just a matter of continuing identity.