World Wetlands Day 2003: India



Aniruddhe Mukerjee (IAS)
District Collector & Mission Leader, Watershed Mission

Wet Land Day 2nd Feb.2003:
District Tikamgarh, Madhya Pradesh (India)

Profile of District:

The district is located in the state of Madhya Pradesh, on the Bundelkhand plateau. It extends between longitudes 70o 26' & 79o 21' E and latitudes 24o 26' & 25o 34' N . The total geographic area of the district is 5048 sq. kms. The area is covered with hard granite rocks and is devoid of any considerable soil cover. Narrow belts of fertile soil are found around river basin areas. Main rivers of the district are Betwa, Jamuni, and Dhasan, the last two forming west and east boundaries of the district.

The south-west monsoon is the main source of precipitation. Since the last four years the district has been receiving rains far below average, causing hardship to the farmers. There have been attempts at water storage and conservation over the year. During 8th & 9th AD, the Chandela kings constructed about 962 tanks, out of which 127 tanks are still in existence.

The district has the largest number of tanks and wells in the state of Madhya Pradesh. However the growth of water weeds and deposit of silt over the years has resulted in reduced water storage capacity of tanks.

Out of total 771 live tanks of the district, 11 are with district panchayat, 127 are under irrigation department, village panchayat has 567 tanks, and 66 tanks are with block panchayat.

The Govt. of MP had launched the village contact programme (Gram Sampark Abhiyan) from 31 January to 6 February 2003, an exercise for finding out the problems and demands associated with each village in the state by sending teams to each village. In Tikamgarh it was deuded to use this opportunity for cleaning and desilting of tanks by the water users themselves.i.e. irrigation water users association, fisheries societies etc.

A workshop of officers, NGOs and field level functionaries of the concerned departments was organised to explain the importance of the action and how to get it implemented. The following points were emphasized for theWetland week programme:

A) To educate water users about the importance of maintanance of surface water sources by organizing participatory workshop of villagers.

B) Conservation of water bodies -

1) Desilting of tanks.
2) Derooting of ipomea fistulosa .
3) Repairing of tank bunds.
4) Inlet gabian structures construction

C) Removal of algae.

D) Stake holders i.e. villagers of the catchment areas, members of irrigation, water user associates and fisheries societies participated in large numbers in cleaning of algae, uprooting of ipomea fistulosa and desilting of tanks.

Increased awareness among the users of the importance of water conservation was evident from the enthusiasm with which they participated in the programme. A total of 319 tanks were cleaned during this week.

In Gram Sabha(Village Council) of Anantpura village for de-silting and renovation of tanks by women's self help groups. These groups and fishermen co-operative society members participated in cleaning activities by uprooting ipomeas & other water weeds.

Similarly Durga women's self help group commenced cleaning water tanks at Alampura Village helped by children and youth. Gram Sarpanch Ms. Sarda Yadav was leading the group activities.

Similar activities were carried out at village Madiya, where women's groups took part enthusiastically along with the village head, students, teachers, villagers and departmental personnel in cleaning & removing waterweeds of Rajara Tank.

During wetland day, cleaning, de-silting and deepening activities ware taken up at Hanumansagar, Maharajpura Tank, Nayakhera tank and Varmatal. Large quantity of waterweeds was removed, and silt and non degradable substances were collected for disposal away from the tank area, with the help of water user's groups, specially self help groups of women.

The participation of large numbers of women, students, teachers, members of self help groups, officers of various departments, non government organizations and other social groups ensured that the message of wetland day was spread out clearly to all the populace.

In addition to the above activities, participatory workshops were held at villages around the catchment area of tanks. It was stressed that all water users should keep regular watch on water sources and ensure conservation of the same. They should also ensure that tank water is clean and free from floating non de-gradable material. If any sources of effluents are found discharging in tanks, immediate action should be taken by constructing filter check, so that effluent silt and non degradable substances do not enter in tank water.

A villager discussing with district collector about enhancing water storage capacity of Alampura tank
Uprooting of Ipomea fistulosa in progress at Budera tank by fishermen and women's group on wetland day
Budera Tal covered by water hyacinth
Photo of Clean Tank of Budera Talab. Collected algae will be deposited in dugwell for biomanure.
Mirror image of clean Nannitehri tank taken after removing ipomea fistulosa and algae on 2nd Feb. 2003
District Collector and leader watershed mission conducting symposium under Area Water Partnership at village Jeron
Deepening work in progress at Anantpura tank. Men, Women, Students and Teachers of the village took part
Bhawani Fishermen's cooperative collected fish from Badagaon Tank.


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