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Conserving Today for Sustaining Tomorrow – A case of Masulpani Gram panchayat

Introduction to work

Mahatma Guarantee National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has been proved as a boon for people of Masulpani Panchayat. In the last 5 years, around 250 structures/ activities has been completed in panchayat which not just provided employment to cardholders but built a vision of farmers of Masulpani towards sustainable livelihood. This programme supported farmers for identifying potential resources, how we can harness those optimally to enhance production and income from their available piece of land. The assets created under MGNREGA in the panchayat has supported livelihood and enhanced income of more than 50 percent of families by 30-40 percent. Under MGNREGA, 105 land leveling and bunding, 43 individual farm ponds, 4 dug wells, 10 compost and azola tanks, 39 cow sheds, 27 poultry sheds, 11 goats shed has been constructed. This helped to increase the cropping area, enhance productivity of land, provided lifesaving irrigation and different livelihood options like fishery, goat and birds rearing. Moreover, through facilitation by CSO like PRADAN, people planned and implemented structures in their land in INRM approach of enhance productivity and income from land vis-à-vis conserving soil, water and forest for its sustainability. This year also community (men, women, elders) and institution such as Village Organization has planned around 300 structures in contiguous patch of land looking into the technicalities of watershed, which is to be implemented under MGNREGA- Mega Watershed Project in convergence with different departments.  The entire plan has been taken in Gram Sabha.

Need of the Work

“|Situation ten years down the line were very different,” says Gangarm (Sarpanch). According to him, this was a place of poverty and hopelessness.  Most of the lands were uncultivable due to undulating in nature. Water runoff and soil degradation made the problem more chronic and brought vulnerability to farmers. Farmers were completely dependent on PDS and round the year food sufficiency is merely achieved. This unfortunate situation led to a number of secondary and tertiary problems of credit indebtedness distress migration and health hazards. Also, farmers face severe losses during the harvesting period in these lands due to uneven rainfall and lack of water storage structures like ponds.  Lands are not leveled and small farm bunds due to which is no sufficient water retention. Farmers take a single crop and can’t go for a second/Rabi crop due to lack of irrigation. Less than 10 percent of the land is irrigated by bore wells. NTFP collection and wage labor (agriculture labor and MGNREGA) are the second and third main source of income for village households. The male members of 20-25 families migrate to cities for labor work. Most of the land is upland and medium land. There are no irrigation facilities on upland and water run off causes top soil erosion. Heavy rainfall damages crop in the lowland and creates flood-like conditions, erode the land, and deposit sand in the lowland which reduces the productivity of the land. During kharif, families take a vegetable, maize, pulses on homestead land, however, post kharif the homestead lands remains unused due to lack of water resources. Even the water level of the dug well is reduced and many dried up. Only 10 % of land is double-cropped in the panchayat and 90 % land depends on the rainfed agriculture system.  Most of the borewell are functional for 3-4 years and water yield reduces up to a great extent.  Near about 100 bore wells has been constructed and out of which only 57 are functional and irrigates 10 % i.e. 29 ha of land. Cost of bore well, electricity, maintenance creates burden on farmers and the command area irrigated is less. From the above data it could be concluded bore well are not the solution for farmers in the region. Additionally, soil erosion and high runoff of water during rainy season brought additional problems of siltation in to existing water harvesting structure, deposition of silt and sand in low lands and crop failures in medium and medium up land due to lack of soil moisture availability and fertility of soil creates more problems for the farmers. Looking in to the current problems, the panchayat and its people has decided to go for in-situ soil water conservation measures through harnessing potential of MGNREGA in the panchayat. 


From inception most of the work under MGNREGA were somehow focused community infrastructures like- making earthen or CC Road, desiltation of ponds and making community assets like stop dam/check dam or ponds for household and social works or for animal use.  The shift in process from community land to individual land was very crucial and struggle for people. The idea of creating affirmative infrastructure is often disliked due to technical errors, cumbersome documentation and the fear of loosing land (not able to use for agriculture) in the area. Farmers were oriented about the big size of the ponds and structures and often misinterpreted that significant land will be gone if they do structure in individual land.  Irregular and delay payment add additional burden in the perception of people and MGNREGA prog was looked differently.  Building vision around structures- Small and appropriate structures looking in to land and catchment area, diversity of permissible work and its benefits, change in land use and increasing cropping intensity were key points for envisaging the shift in the area and struggle in the Gram Panchayat. There were other issues like, addressing the experience of negativity for example clarity of sanction of plans in totality, transparency in the process and non-availability of water in created structures ware often misunderstood by the villagers.  There are few other issues like capacitate ground staffs like mates and gran Rojgar Sahayaks around principles of soil water conservation tools and techniques. Basic measurement and surveying principles and conversions for effective implementation of the programme. 

In order to build the process, along with GP functionaries, Block MGNREGA Cell and CSO a compressive plan was made to influence the eco system.  The first step was; creating awareness regarding different soil water conservation structures and building perspective around ins situ soil water conservation, the second step was making scientific planning using water budgeting principle and runoff in the village. The third step was proper documentation, approval and sharing the impact in gram Sabha. The fourth and important step was building capacity of GRS, PRI members and mates around water conservation and building system for accommodating demand, grievances and monitoring process for effective implementation of the process 

The Plot – District/Block/Gram Panchayat

Masulpani Panchayat is situated at a distance of 5 km from Narharpur Block, Uttar Baster Kanker, Chhattisgarh. Masulpani comprises of 5 revenue villages and total area of the GP is 1429 Ha. The villages are located in different direction and distance from block HQ varies from 5 km to 10 km radius and one third of the panchayat area are under forest i.e 450.12 ha. There are 298 families in the panchayat with 1499 population.  90.66 percent of the population is Gond tribe (ST) whereas only 8.33 percent belongs to Other Backward Class (OBC). In the panchayat, there are 246 families under Below Poverty Line (BPL) category and 60 families are in Antodaya category. People of Masulpani are majorly dependent on agriculture, forest and earning wage in the locale. Agriculture and forest play pivotal role in life and livelihood of the people. Around 40 % revenue generated from cultivating paddy, pulses and vegetable and rest 28% income is generated from forest. In this area agriculture is mainly dependent on rain. People cultivate pulses like black gram, kulthi and millets, maize on upland; however, the production is very low due to water unavailability and poor soil quality. Rest of the year, the uplands remains barren and unutilized. More than one third of the land is medium land where farmers grow short duration paddy variety. Also, farmers face severe losses during harvesting period in these lands due to uneven rainfall and lack of water storage structures like ponds.  Lands are not leveled and small farm bunds due to which is no sufficient water retention. There also farmers take single crop and can’t go for second/Rabi crop due to lack of irrigation. In last decade, it’s evident in the panchayat that ground water status is depleting and borewell are not effective for irrigation in large scale. 

Cost & FY (Completion):-

State: CHHATTISGARH District : KANKER Block : NARHARPUR Panchayat : MasulpaniAs on 12-06-2019
I Job Card
Total No. of Job Cards issued323
Total No. of Workers743
Total No. of Active Job Cards300
Total No. of Active Workers622
(i)SC worker against active workers [%]0.48
(ii)ST worker against active workers [%]88.26
II ProgressFY 2019-2020FY 2018-2019FY 2017-2018FY 2016-2017FY 2015-2016
Person days Generated so far2,69426,85219,3797,39020,991
SC person days % as of total person days1.60.720.621.190.41
ST person days % as of total person days95.2190.3789.1990.9988.06
Women Persondays out of Total (%)45.5145.6544.6748.5347.36
Average days of employment provided per Household19.1196.2471.7740.8370.68
Average Wage rate per day per person(Rs.)175.94174172167159
Total No of HHs completed 100 Days of Wage Employment0139731376
Total Households Worked141279270181297
Total Individuals Worked227540500333586
Differently abled persons worked01101
III Works 
Number of GPs with NIL exp00000
Total No. of Works Takenup (New+Spill Over)41815783131
Number of Ongoing Works3740491965
Number of Completed Works44186466
% of NRM Expenditure(Public + Individual)97.2795.2385.8966.985.83
% of Category B Works95.1282.7277.1989.1696.18
IV Financial Progress 
Total Exp(Rs. in Lakhs.)5.1654.1233.7519.9736.39
Wages(Rs. In Lakhs)5.148.6327.5412.0231.95
Material and skilled Wages(Rs. In Lakhs)04.795.727.514.21
Total Adm Expenditure (Rs. in Lakhs.)
Admin Exp(%)
Average Cost Per Day Per Person(In Rs.)182.12192.29204.01240.2180.18
% of Total Expenditure through EFMS98.859899.7510099.94
% payments gererated within 15 days10010097.3442.6419.9

In Masulpani people are highly dependent on MGNREGA wage. The average day of employment provided in the Gp is more than 62 days per HH which is significantly high from national as well state average of 44 and 49-days employment provided per HH in last three financial years.  The % of expenditure of NRM (natural Resources management) is also high and on average more than 85% fund has been utilised under NRM works.  As the GP is ST dominated, there is huge scope for taking category B work for Improving productivity of lands of households through land development .This will  providing suitable infrastructure for irrigation including dug wells, farm ponds and other water harvesting structures & Improving livelihoods through horticulture, plantation, and farm forestry. Other infrastructures like livestock shed such as, poultry shelter, goat shelter, piggery shelter, cattle shelter and Gothan for cattle will increase additional income in the GP. Further creating infrastructure for promotion of fisheries such as, fish drying yards, storage facilities, and promotion of fisheries in seasonal water bodies has high scope harnessing MGNREGA

Implementation Process: 

MWC (Mission water conservation) trainings and concept has been initiated for an affluent and scientific process considering water budgeting in focus. A process in this approach facilitate change in the conditions of the disadvantaged communities, especially women, ensuring access to and control over improved production technologies of the women. Creating water harvesting structures for conservation and irrigation supporting second and third crop with enhanced production per unit of water and encouraging the cultivation of cash crops were the major processes discussed in the village.  The first step towards the planning process was to understand the community. First task was forming a village level organization with emphasis on women’s participation for grassroots decision making. Continuous visits, discussions, rapport building, community video show helped to mobilize all Self-help groups in the village. 80 % household brought under one umbrella.  Continuous engagement helped SHG members and other community members to appreciate and believe in individual as well as collective strength. 

In the process, PRADAN helped community to understand their resource (land/water, labor, livestock, and forests) and its potential at different level. Starting at the level of individual women, their families, local communities and local social and political institutions. PRADAN along with Block MGNREGA Cell helped to capacitate Community resource Persons (CRPs), GP functionaries on a participatory plan of NRM. It included mass campaign, exposure to an already treated area and phased in-house knowledge building workshops followed by on-field hand holding support in planning. Mates and GRS have been groomed in the first phase on various technicalities of potential livelihood options based on the created assets. Panchayat level workshops (MGNREGA Act and Provisions), hamlet level meetings on MGNREGA broaden their horizon. Block officials (MGNREGA PO, Engineers, and ADEO) has been pro-actively engaged in facilitating the process and attended community meetings and discussed key features of MWC and its importance. The SHG members provided strong leadership in the INRM planning process. With the help of GRS, CRPs, SHG members prepared Social and Resource map of the village and got actively involved in site selection, technical supervision of activities like construction of water harvesting structures and soil conservation. FGD were done by SHG members and other stakeholders (Rozgar Sahayak, Sarapanch, Mates and) to identify bottlenecks of existing ways of implementing and possible solutions to it. The focus was to make synergy among all and to provide a conducive environment to express real life hindrances. With the help of elderly people and villagers resource mapping was done to map out the nature and extent of the natural resource. Resource mapping helped community to understand the physical resources at the command of the village. Bottlenecks like payment delay which increase magnitude of unwillingness to work in MGNREGA has been addressed with efforts from PRI members as well as Block and district functionaries. Regular Rojgar Diwas has been organized and work has been implemented. 

Convergence:-Assets so far created under MGNREGA helped increasing capacity, productivity and income of farmers with support of different line departments like agriculture department, horticulture department, fishery dept, animal husbandry department. CSO like PRADAN played a role in linking women collectives and Village organizations with different dept and to prepare a holistic plan involving different stakeholders. People received agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, pesticides for promoting agriculture in leveled land and also farm implements to enhance knowledge around modern technologies. Also, promotion of vegetable cultivation and horticulture plants has been through horti. Dpt. Last year in around 50 farms pond, farmers did fish rearing with support from fishery dpt and received seeds at subsidized rates. Around 20 families received 40 chicks/ family at subsidized rate from animal husbandry dpt. Department also support in regular vaccination of chicks. This year under millet mission, 1 acre of leveled land has been demonstrated for millet production using modern technique like SRI (System of Rice Intensification). SHG members were trained in tailoring and linked with Bank for further needs.   It is very interesting to see a vision development of panchayat and people for natural resources conservation so that they can lead a better life and livelihood in a sustainable manner

Implementing Agency: –

Gram panchayat   is the implementing agency of the whole programme.  In Gram Sabha, Plans gas been prioritized and approved. Files made and submitted to Janpad panchayat for technical as well administrative sanction. After sanctioning of work, GRS has made all arrangements like geo tagging and raised demand for implementation. A demand register was introduced for easy access to SHGs and VO and labors of gram panchayat through mates. Gram Panchayat has formed a committee for smooth implementation of work as well addressing grievance in Rojgar Diwas. This committee has also been empowered to ensure quality work and assets created with in the gram panchayat.  Mates and GRS were trained on soil water conservation techniques and trainings were conducted on measurement and layout aspect of various NRM structure. Technical assistants were continuously engaged and supervised quality implementation of the sanctioned work

Out Standing Contribution By Individuals

The key architect of this development was a man named Shri Gangaram Kodopi[1]( Sarpanch of the Village).  He had grown up in the area, and had a vision for the change. He began talking with the community, spreading his ideas, and getting people involved in water conservation, harvesting and farming since 2000.  He knew that the only way that the village could be revived was with the participation of the entire community, especially the youth and Women. He knew Villagers needed to bring back what they knew: farming.  Thus, to bring back water and eventually farming he undertook initiatives with the villagers to construct field bunds, land leveling and constructing farm pond. In 2004, he visited “Ralegan Siddhi” and inspired seeing the community ownership and development. Gangaram remembered in 2006, 2nd February MGNREGA came in to picture and where gramsabha and planning was started in the village. Gangram took initiative and renovate old percolation tank/ Ponds and infrastructures (Road to each hamlet, restoration of culverts and samudayak Bhawans) that had been built in the past. In those days NREGA work in individual land was very less and emphasis was given in collective works. Neither villagers were aware about schedule Iv (permissible work in individual works) neither block emphasized on it. Gangaram was the person who played a major role during initial days for social mobilization and organizing people when MWC came in to picture. He took the stance and changed the fate of Masulpani. With help of Block functionaries, District administration support and support from PRADAN, participatory micro-planning exercises were taken up by self-help groups and the local community. To begin with, the work listed on a sheet of paper, the landholding size of each household, and its nature and needs. Then, it was put down a list of various schemes under subheadings. All benefits possible from these schemes were listed to match the needs of each household. Gangaram organized Gram Sabha at hamlet level and villagers were given platform to share their common as well as individual aspirations.  MGNREGA programme was carried out with maximum focus and it spread its sphere to each individual of the village. Today— 150 acres of land were leveled and bunded and made suitable for cultivation; more than 300 acres of land came under irrigation.  More than 50 farm ponds available for pisciculture. Panchayat took initiative and construct two Anganwadi Kendra’s in auxiliary villages.  Market Shed and higher secondary school building was made with planning in BRGF. Tap water connection was made for each household by taking approval in gram Sabha with help of PHD department because of interest, passion and compassion of person like Gangaram.
[1]  Elected three times Sarpanch in the village, Age 40


The village saw a big increase in vegetable, maize, fish and poultry production. Today, vegetable cultivation enables 60 per cent of families to earn up to Rs.15000 to 20, 000 an annum. Distress migration has stopped. In the last two years, many villagers have been able to buy assets like mobile phones, motorcycles and television sets and etc. Masulpani is self-sufficient today and its people do not need freebies or doles. In 2008 the village got presidential Prize for Nirmal gram Panchayat. In 2011 and 2012 the Panchayat got best implementing Panchayat in MGNREGA in kanker district consecutively.  49.52 Ha-Mt water has been conserved through farm pond and land levelling and soil moisture has increased.  More than Land cover under crop increased to 100 acers in last 4 years Productivity of paddy doubled i.e. from 2 tons /ha to 4 tones /ha  Additional income of 15000 to 20000 through fish rearing in farm ponds Average HH Income has been increased by 30%.Women participation, sense of agency, ownership increased in public forums Reduced distressed migration and a sustainable and self-sufficient livelihood created in village Food sufficiency and consumption of nutritional food such as vegetable, fish intake, millets, chicken. Soil erosion reduced in treated patch of land and water table improved 

Interesting Data Representation

Sl NoWater Budget Masulpani  ParticularsAnnual Water Requirement
(in Cubic meter)
1Food grain production (@ 1400 kg p.a.)1250
2To fetch an income of Rs. 1,00,000 p.a either from cash crop from 3000 sqm area or income for accessing other needs1500
3Different HH work, livestock, etc. @ 1375 liter per day per family500
4Miscellaneous use (considering 10 – 15 % of above) 500
TOTAL requirement per family3750
Per Capita requirement750
Total No of Household in the MWS area298
Population size 1499
Requirement of Water in GP annually (Cubic Mt) 1117500
Equivalent to Ha-Mt111.75

Before and After Analysis :-

In 2013(Before)                        Intervention                        In 2019 (After)
 Land coverage under agriculture of the panchayat – around 450 ha.  Productivity of paddy was 2 tonne/ha Though women contribute majorly in agriculture and income from land, they didn’t had recognition, also they remained unheard in land related decision. Less than 50% of the families had round the year food sufficiency. They were greatly dependent on PDS. Loss of paddy crop due to uneven rainfall Upland remained barren due to scarcity of water  More than 70 Ha of land has been treated in watershed approach 105 land leveling and bunding, 43 individual farm ponds, 4 dugwells, 10 compost and azola tanks, 39 cow sheds, 27 poultry sheds, 11 goat shed has been constructed Provided assets for families for livelihood intensification and diversification through convergence Participatory planning of the structure on individual and community land  Awareness creation regarding different soil water conservation structures and building perspective around in-situ soil water conservation Scientific planning using water budgeting principle and runoff  Rojgar Diwas organised by the panchayat for effective and smooth implementation of the plan.  Land coverage under agriculture of panchayat- 535.52 ha 49.52 Ha-Mt water has been conserved through farm pond and land levelling and soil moisture has increased. Additional income of 15000 to 20000 through fish rearing in farm ponds of 50 families85 % of the families has round the year food sufficiency Panchayat and people are now connected and linked with different department and are availing the schemes and information for enhancing their livelihood consumption of nutritional food such as vegetable, fish intake, millets, chickenWomen participation, sense of agency, ownership increased in public forums. Women of collective have a say in planning around their land and agriculture.Average HH Income has been increased by 30%Productivity of paddy doubled to 4 tones /ha    
Seed of Change- Sulochana Saroj 

Doubling Income through Farm Pond 

Sulochana is one of the SHG member who proactively participated on INRM works and demonstrated farm pond in her own field in Raipur Village of Masulpani at that crucial period when people have concluded farm ponds has little use in increasing income. The perception built over a period of time due different reasons such as technical errors of catchment area, few times farmers perception vis a vis technical feasibility, sanction in isolation etc., However in the amidst situation She took the initiative and decide to construct a farm pond in 10 decimals of land in year 2015-16 through MGNREGA.  The farm pond is perfectly designed and constructed looking in the catchment area, inlet and out let principles with water catchment capacity in view and now creating ripple effect in the community. Water retains though out the year in this pond and in dry spells she manages to fill the farm pond as the farm pond has multiple function today. She uses the water in her paddy field in dry spells in July /August at the time of transplantation of paddy only and rest of the time she does pisciculture in the farm pond. From Fishery She earned 30000 in year 2018-19 from her farm pond constructed through MGNREGA. She is a tourch bearer in the community as well as in gram panchayat and motivate other women to plan for such rain water conservation structure and take benefit out of it.    

Well of Well-being

Sulachana and Dhruv could never plan more than one round of crop cultivation every year. The reason was lack of water resource. Paddy which was that one crop they used to cultivate during the hard times of water scarcity. Today, the scenario had undergone a sea change. After immense hard work by Sulachana and other members of her (UJALA) SHG, they now are being able to plan a minimum of two crops (Paddy & Vegetables- Bitter gourd, Leafy vegetables, Brinjal & Cowpea per year. And this could be made possible by a dug-well.  A dug-well provides assured irrigation to crop fields whenever it is needed. With support from work under MGNREGA, the members of her group dug 4 wells in their village (Raipur- Village, Masulpani Gram Panchayat name of the village in Kanker district of Chhattisgarh. Each dug well cost 1.35 lakh and because of this intervention additional income they are earning now is 35,000 to 40,000 per year where as their income earlier from agriculture is 10 to 15 thousand.  The dug well is providing irrigation in 0.4 ha land. 

Like Sulochana, there are more than 2000 farmers who has been participated in Soil water conservation programme in the Narharpur Block and witnessing the change of income, prosperity and wellbeing. 

Construction of Dug well on Sulochana progress Construction of farm pond on progress – Sulochana 

Voices from Field: 

Do saal pehli mai rojgar guarantee ke anatargart dabri banaye rahe hu… pichle saal mor dhan wahich dabri ke karan bachis…dhan ke fasal me akhir me hamesha barish tod deth hai.. pichle saal jab barish todis to mai dabri ke pani la pala kar fasal la bachaye harau” ( Two years ago, I have constructed a farm pond in my land. Last year, I was able to save my paddy crop by providing last irrigation from that farm pond. There is uneven rainfall which damages the crop and reduces the harvest. This time I could save my crop.)
– Chhabila, Masulpani             

महात्मा गाँधी रोज़गार गारंटी सामाजिक एवं आर्थिक विकास के लिए एक खास अवसर है| इस योजना के अन्तर्गत ग्रामवासिओ को ना ही सिर्फ रोजगारमिलता बल्कि खेती के साधन उपलब्ध कराता है जो आजीविका को बढ़ाने के लिए कारगर है| इसके माध्यम से ग्रामीण भविष्य में आत्मनिर्भर बन पाएंगेऔर साथ ही हम हमारे प्राकृतिक संसाधन जैसे की जल, जंगल, जमीन का प्रबंधन कर पाएंगे|”(MGNREGA is an opportunity for social and economic development . Under this programme villagers  not only gets employment but  can avail assets for agriculture which can enhance their livelihood. This way people can become independent and alongwith we can manage and conserve our natural resources such as water, forest and land.)
– गंगाराम कोडोपी, मासुलपानी


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