Initiated in 2001, ITC’s Integrated Watershed Development Programme has covered 5,00,000 acre in 12 states, where ITC has factory or agri operations.
Ramesh Chand, a farmer from Durgpur village here, has been cultivating at least three crops in a year since 2006, when a check dam close to his field was built to conserve rainwater. Chand, who owns 50 acre of the land, grows soyabean in kharif or summer season and take up rabi or winter crops like wheat and chana.
“Prior to the construction of the check dam, I used to take up only kharif crops like soyabean using rainwater,” Chand told FE.
Similarly, Nathu Ram, a farmer from Narsingkhera, village also depends on the check dam located at Durgapura to irrigate his 20 acre of land. The dam was constructed in 2006 at a cost of around Rs 12 lakh out of which corporate major ITC contributed 70% under its rural livelihood programme — Sunehra Kal. The rest of the cost was born by farmers.
According to Nathu Ram, following the construction of check dam at Durgpura, 800 acres of land located across three villages — Durgpura, Narsingkhera and Sonarkhedi — get water throughout the year, while only 300 acres used to get water (from a canal) earlier. Around 200 farmers in these three villages have started to grow vegetables — onion and potato — using greater availability of water due to check dam.
The maintenance of the check dam is done through water users committee set up where farmers pay R 50 per acre annually to water users committee. “The rural income have jumped atleast four times since the checkdam was created,” Sowai Singh, a famer from Narsingkhera village claimed.
Singh said from two tractors prior to 2006 in his village, now there are 50 tractors and three dairies have been opened in his village to collect milk daily. “Check dam has not only helped in irrigation but also increasing the ground water table, thus increasing drinking water availability,” he noted.
Initiated in 2001, ITC’s Integrated Watershed Development Programme has covered 5,00,000 acre in 12 states, where ITC has factory or agri operations. There are more than 6,600 water harvesting structures and about 1,500 functioning water-user groups taking care of these check dams.
“These water-user groups undergo intensive training in watershed management techniques, structure maintenance, water-use regulation and formulation of user charges. Besides, they plan, implement and monitor all activities including the building of micro-water harvesting structures like check dams, village ponds, percolation tanks, etc, adopting suitable water-saving technologies and undertake soil and moisture conservation measures,” said Ashesh Ambasta, vice-president, social investment, ITC.
The company would add one lakh acres of land under its watershed development and 50,000 acre in its afforestation initiatives during the next couple of years. ITC has allocated R250 crore for enhancing rural livelihood in the current fiscal.
Under the Mission Sunehra Kal, ITC works to strengthen rural livelihoods through its rural retail initiative e-Choupal; wasteland development through social forestry, soil and moisture conservation programmes; livestock development initiatives; and building skills and social infrastructure.
(Travel for this report was sponsored by ITC)