“Kam se kam 15 saal Pehle Jeevan Dhara Yojna se gaon me kuan bana tha”
Sulochna Saroj, a member of Ujala SHG in Rajpur Village of Masulpani Panchayat
This village is situated around 8 kilometers from Narharpur block of Uttar Bastar Kanker district in Chhattisgarh. Sulochna Saroj’s family is one of the many families who were plagued with the problem of water scarcity leading to seasonal agriculture.
“Hum log pehle ek hi fasal lete the, kuaan ban jaane se hum log kam se kam do fasal le sakte hain”.The main need for dug well as rightly pointed out by Dhruv Saroj
The provision of creating dug wells for irrigation purpose has for long been present in the MGNREGA Act but till date, its presence in villages is almost negligible. Under Mega Watershed Project, several meetings and discussions regarding water conservation and entitlements under MGNREGA were made to plan for improving their life and livelihood. The energy this process generated is what perhaps propelled the villagers to organize INRM planning in their village. And undoubtedly, dugwell emerged as a major need from the people’s end. The reason is quite clear- “kisaan ke paas pani hoga toh kya nahi kar sakta” is what Dhruv Saroj said. Dug well is a critical intervention as it helps enhancing income through assured irrigation throughout the year with the sustenance of ecosystem.
However, roadblocks faced en-route were many. In spite of the plans being sanctioned, the major problems that emerged ware administrative will to commence the programme. Absolutely no impetus was given to start the work at village level. Laborers started refusing and the Sarpanch also became wary seeing the bleak past of this. This made the general tone of the village very apprehensive. SHG members took the lead and assured the villagers as well as the PRI members to come together. They wish to establish the model and inspire others to follow.
The first breakthrough achieved in the process was Sulochna Saroj being selected as a mate. However convincing laborers was still a challenge. Being a woman mate, her SHG co-members took the onus on themselves in convincing laborers to work in a dug well. The impact of this initiative can be gauged by the fact that 4 dug wells has been completed in the village.
This year in Rabi season, Sulochna cultivated leafy and creepy vegetables in 25 decimal of land. And this dugwell was like a backbone. She had a good harvest and earned Rs. 25,000 surplus other than consumption at her home. 2 years ago, she constructed a farm pond in her land under MGNREGA, which supports lifesaving irrigation for paddy in Kharif and also she rears fish in the pond. This summer she sold fish of amount Rs. 15000.