Women’s bank in Maharashtra makes taluka drought-free

By: | Published: January 12, 2016 12:13 AM

At a time when large parts of Maharashtra are reeling under drought, Mann taluka of Mhaswad, a drought-prone area in Satara district...

At a time when large parts of Maharashtra are reeling under drought, Mann taluka of Mhaswad, a drought-prone area in Satara district, is on its way to become drought-free, thanks to the steps taken by the women’s group, Mann Deshi Foundation promoted by Mann Deshi Bank, the rural women’s cooperative bank.

The foundation has just constructed the sixth check dam in the drought-hit areas and the results are already visible, says Rekha Kulkarni, CEO, Mann Deshi Mahila Sahkari Bank. This year they did not have to call for water tankers and there was enough water in areas where check-dams were constructed, says Kulkarni.

With this intervention by the women, the areas has started irrigating over 100 hectares of land in the catchment area.  Apart from access to drinking water, there is increased production and change in crop pattern as well with even sugarcane cultivation becoming possible here.

According to Kulkarni, it was the drought of 2012 which led to the foundation managing the biggest cattle camp with 14,000 animals and 5,000 people and that was a catalyst for these initiatives. We realized that camps were a temporary solution and water had to be conserved to stop forced human migration and loss of animals, she adds.

Chetna Gala Sinha, founder of the Mann Deshi Foundation, said they were ensuring that every drop of Mann taluka remains in Mann through the conservation initiatives. The foundation has undertaken the challenging task to rejuvenate the Mann river in alignment with the Maharashtra state government’s Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyaan to make the state drought-free by 2019, Sinha said.

The foundation started by building check dams on streams and is now graduating to building check-dams on rivers, Kulkarni said. So far six check dams have been constructed and three more will be built on the river this year with investments of around R5.55 crore.  Mann Deshi has raised funds for these projects from the HSBC, Jankalyan Charitable Trust, Bruhad Bharat Samaj and the Halbe family and will take on more projects as funds become available.

Due to these interventions, catchment area of 763 hectares has been benefitted by enhanced percolation in 132 wells. The local agricultural department has reported a rise in land fertility, Sinha said.

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