Water conservation, sustainable agriculture, challenges for rural development in Maharashtra and possible solutions - Talk by Popatrao Pawar, Sarpanch, Hivre-Bazar

Shri Popatrao Pawar is an inspiring promoter of the 'Ideal Villages Movement' on "Integrated Agriculture and Rural Development for Tomorrow's Maharashtra" on the occasion of the inauguration of Observer Research Foundation's Maharashtra@50 Study Centre on 24th June 2010.

Shri Popatrao Pawar started his speech by highlighting his background and how he became the sarpanch of the village and his experience of bringing about a gradual change in the village of Hivre Bazar, which originally was facing acute water scarcity. It was through gradual efforts at development focusing on water conservation and sustainable agricultural practices coupled with behavioural and attitudinal changes at the village level that the village was able to deal with the problems of water scarcity and today stands as a model for other villages to follow.

Shri Popatrao Pawar highlighted the current situation of villages in Maharashtra and the disparities within geographical areas in Maharashtra, which are divided into areas where there is heavy rainfall at one end and very scanty rainfall at the other. However, he emphasised that mechanisms for proper utilisation and management of whatever water was available in the villages was lacking, which led to this phenomenon of acute water scarcity, affecting agricultural practices and leading to pauperisation of farmers in the villages.

This has been leading to mass migration of people from villages to cities, uncontrolled growth of cities, diversion of water, electricity to cities and neglect of rural areas in the state. Shri Popatrao Pawar argued that this would have a highly negative impact on the environment and efforts needed to be made on an urgent basis to restore this balance by making attempts at improving and making changes at the village level and changing villages on the lines similar to Hivre Bazar.

Please view part 1 of the film below:

Source: ORF Mumbai
He emphasised the importance of water management that not only involved watershed development, but also focused on preventing people from excessive drawing out of groundwater, which was a common phenomenon in villages in Maharashtra and which could lead to a severe crisis of water in the years to come. He emphasised the importance of developing awareness among the people about ecologically sustainable development and sensitivity to the environment.

The next part of his speech highlighted how he got about making changes in the village of Hivre Bazar and the outcomes of introducing these developmental activities at the village level. He highlighted the links between livelihoods and environmentally sustainable developmental activities, health and quality of life. He emphasised the importance of community motivation and mobilisation and felt that this movement if taken up by other villages in the state could lead to return of a large number of people back to their villages and encourage them to bring about a change in urban rural disparities through making villages self sufficient, independent, solve water scarcity and livelihood issues of villages, help in improve quality of lives and bring about environmentally sustainable development.

Part 2 of the film can be viewed at this link.

Part 3 of the film can be viewed at this link.

Part 4 of the film can be viewed at this link.