Population increase has placed ever-increasing demands on the available groundwater resources, particularly for intensive agricultural activities.
The sound of a specific cycle bell deep inside the jungles of Kashinathpur village in Angul (Odisha) brings vibes of joy. Everybody recognises that bell because it belongs to 24-year-old Urmila Bahera who sometimes cycles to villages as far as 15 kilometres, braving bumpy roads, streams and elephants.
In the Bundelkhand craton region, groundwater is the primary source of drinking water. Due to low rainfall, agriculture mainly depends on the goundwater supply, which comes through bore wells. Most of the time, the region faces a water crisis during the summer season as the wells and tube wells go dry.
Why de-commission defunct or failed bore wells?
According to a 2006 report by the Inter-Agency Task Force, titled ‘Gender, Water and Sanitation’
In Kerala, around half the urban population and 80% of the rural population depend on open wells on their domestic water needs. But in the last decade, the majority of observatory wells recorded an average annual decline of half a meter.
The environment versus development debate has increasingly become more polarised, with discussions in the public domain revealing a stark contrast of views. Development has increasingly come to symbolise ‘doing something’ and ensuring ‘visible outputs’, largely in the form of infrastructure.
Groundwater fulfills the drinking water requirements of nearly 85% and 50% of the rural and urban Indian population, respectively. 65% of the total irrigated area utilizes groundwater. It also caters to the water needs of the industrial sector in India.
Kathayi, a scheduled tribe (ST) dominated village in the midst of the forested stretches of Shahnagar block in Panna district faces acute water scarcity during the 3-4 summer months. Through the government schemes, three wells and two hand pumps were installed in this 75 household village in the last 10-15 years, but most of them are dysfunctional now.
The ‘Managing Aquifer Recharge and Sustaining Groundwater Use through Village-level Intervention’ (MARVI) project is being undertaken since February 2012 with the overall aim to improve the security of irrigation water supplies and enhance livelihood opportunities for rural communities in India.