Water Availability for All – An Approach for Sustainability

The Kutch region of Gujarat receives rains from the southwest monsoon for only about 14 days in a year. The erratic extent and duration of rainfall, high evaporation rates and the lack of significant surface water resources makes the area arid and increases water salinity. Surface water plays pivotal role in the area and being utilized for various purposes.11The major part of the total water requirement for domestic, irrigation, livestock and others are met from surface water sources. To ensure the sustainability of water sources one of the objectives was to explore the possibility of using surface water within and around the project area by way of harvesting/ managing rain water in and around the streams within or outside the project area. This will not only provide water security and long term sustainability but also enhance the ground water recharge along with decrease in depletion of water table in the area. The area in the vicinity has good drainage network, watershed management oriented approach does offer a holistic solution to achieve the desired objective. However some critical water supply and storage systems were also destroyed in the 2001 Bhuj earthquake.  As a result of these constraints the quality of drinking water in villages in the Kutch are severely impacted. The poor quality of drinking water is a common cause of disease and results in low levels of sanitation in the region. The low availability of water has increased the drudgery and it has impacted the women folk of the region. Access to safe drinking water is a basic right and is of utmost importance for any community and there are several examples of intervention by multiple stakeholders towards ensuring water sufficiency through holistic water management approach.

Managing and enhancing water resources

A shining example of a direct positive impact of an industry on 11nearby communities is the effort made by Mundra UMPP towards providing access to clean drinking water to the rural population around the power plant. This has been done through various initiatives including rain water harvesting, desilting of ponds and rivers, setting up wells, setting up reverse osmosis plants, and improving sanitation.  These initiatives have been undertaken after conducting thorough assessments, and in collaboration with field based NGOs and nearby communities.

Project Varsha focuses on improving natural resource management structures, agricultural structures and improves profitability of farming. The various activities under this project include:

Activity UoM (Acres/Nos/MCFT/Litres)
Roof Rain Water Harvesting Structures ( capacity) 1,25,000 Litres
Check Dam 1.71 MCFT
Well Recharging for farmers 18 Nos
Farm Bund & Propagation of Drip Irrigation 193.50 Acres
  • Pond deepening
  • Roof rain water harvesting
  • Water Preservation (Check Dam, Rain Water Harvesting) and Connectivity Structure
  • Well recharging
  • Farm Bunding (construction of retaining wall to arrest soil erosion while maintaining moisture levels)
  • Propagation of Drip Irrigation
  • Creation of natural resource and water management structures

This programme signifies our continuing efforts towards improving the quality of life of the communities living in surrounding villages.

Developing sustainable village infrastructure to ensure water access

Project Swachh Jal is another initiative 11launched in the region in collaboration with the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), its water committees and Water and Sanitation Management Organization (WASMO). The project focuses on Identifying the gap and collaboration with existing water committees of panchayat for;

  • Provision of safe drinking water at Schools with RO plants and Purifiers
  •  Establishment of Drinking water Sources through Hydrogelogical and geological assessments Ensuring access to safe drinking water and a reduction in water borne diseases.

11Project “Swachh Jal” is also a landmark project in the region, as it not only creates infrastructure for safe drinking water such as reverse osmosis plants and water harvesting structures, but also provides the means to sustainably maintain this infrastructure. Many projects in the past have faced hurdles due to lack of systems to ensure continuity, with breakdowns in equipments etc. However, the “Swachh Jal” model ensures sustainability and has been running successfully in the unserved areas of Mundra and Mandvi Taluka of Kutch District. The RO plants are now handed over to the panchayat and maintenance of the plants are now being taken care by the Water Committee of these village panchayats ensuring the Sustainability of the project.  The process of setting up a water management system under “Swachh Jal” starts with a study of the area which highlights the water table, contour, pattern of underground water flow etc. This is followed by a need analysis of the respective village residents. A hydro geologist is then engaged to assess the area for ensuring  the ground water availability in the village. The entire process was undertaken in Consultation with the community members. The community then finalises their decision and sends a request letter specifying the contribution from their end with regards to land, RO room, contribution for construction of RO room, water bottles, management of the plant, operators for maintenance work and their honorarium.  Participation from the community is necessary for ensuring ownership of the project.  An exposure visit is then arranged for the members of the water committee to understand the working of a similar intervention. Members are nominated for monitoring and evaluation of the water project. For effective management of the plant, the RO service agency provides training to the operator. Before supply of drinking water the TDS and PH value of the Water is monitored on daily basis.  The RO plant operator informs the RO service agency in case of any maintenance requirement. Water is supplied to community members at minimal costs of lower than Rs. 1 per litre. The community then maintains a record of revenue generated through sale of water to the Community and that money is used towards maintenance of the RO unit. This intervention has brought a significant behavioural change in the community’s acceptance and perception towards the newer approach adopted by the company with active collaboration with the Gram Panchayat. This has also brought tremendous ownership among the community members which ensures sustainability of the project.

Provision of drinking water to communities of Tragadi Bunder

Fisher Communities who visits  Tragadi Bunder during fishing season does not have access to safe drinking water and had to carry potable water over long distances. However, Mundra UMPP has ensured that there is an uninterrupted supply of drinking water to these neighbouring communities of Tragadi Bunder during the fishing season [avg. 15, 000 liters/day]. To enhance livelihood opportunities in these communities, the water supply contract is given to local fishermen from Tragadi village.

11Pic: Fishermen Fetching Drinking water at Bunder

Rainwater harvesting systems

Roof Top Rain Water Harvesting Systems were initiated as a key initiative under the ambitious “Sagarbandhu” project which focuses on overall development of fishermen community implemented through Village Development Advisory Committee of Modhva and AKRSP, India. This aims to serve as a meaningful option to conserve rain water with the potential to provide drinking water supply for one family for the whole year. It is an ideal option for all economic classes and optimally utilises house roofs in villages. It also avoids all complication around the use and maintenance of such a system. [1]

This intervention was undertaken keeping in mind the ‘four P model’ comprising of ‘Purpose, Passion, People and Partnership. RRWHS was executed as the first stage of Infrastructure development in Modhva. To ensure community participation and buy-in, it was decided that 10% of the fund will be collected from the beneficiary of the RRWHS unit

[1] http://ismailimail.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/tata-power-mundra-in-association-with-aga-khan-rural-support-program-adds-value-to-the-fishermen-community-in-gujarat/

 Impact of intervention

Mundra region suffers from deforestation, loss of soil fertility, water scarcity and salinity. Extensive work towards water management and related to watershed management with community participation has had several holistic impacts in the region.

  • Investments in well recharges have large payoffs in yield improvements and poverty alleviation through income generation and environmental sustainability
  • Potable water units and RO plants have ensured safe drinking water
  • Less pressure to women for providing house hold water
  • Optimum utilization of resource (Rain and House roof)
  • Energy and time saving water infrastructural facility
  • It is the boon for the community for maintaining good health through access to safe drinking water
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