On September 13, 2016, an award ceremony was organised at Center for Studies in Rural Development (CSRD-Social Work College) at Ahmednagar to appreciate Jalsevaks for their efforts taken to increase the water harvesting potential for the stipulated time frame of the competition (May 2016). These Jalsevaks form a major component of the Water stewardship project being implemented in 106 villages of Maharashtra and Telangana.
The response to this competition was overwhelming as the water harvesting potential generated during this period was around 527 crore litres. The Jalsevaks motivated and facilitated villagers to offer shramdan for repairing the existing defunct water harvesting structures and to carry out desiltation activities. Some of the Jalsevaks mobilised resources from the corporates and government schemes to accelerate the activities stated above. For example: in the remote villages of Khandbara, Amali, Sukapur and Shivkhatyal, Dhule district, villagers along with repairing the existing watershed structures, constructed some new structures too. Also, in Dehed and Kotha Jahangir villages, Bhokardan, the villagers collectively worked together continuously for a span of 2 days to remove the silt deposited on the percolation and cement tanks.
Shri. Anil Kawade, Collector, Ahmednagar, the chief guest for the program delivered the key speech at the award ceremony. While sharing examples of development in different countries, he explained that every individual plays an important role in carrying out any developmental activity. However, it is not easy to change people’s mindsets. To change the existing cropping and water-use practices adopted by farmers and villagers is challenging. Hence, Jalsevaks need to take up the responsibility of spreading sustainable agricultural practices.
Anil Nagare, Jalsevak from Sangamner block of Ahmednagar district, pointed out that because of water scarcity, it was easy to motivate and mobilise villagers for offering shramdan. But on the other hand, Vinayak Mavali, Jalsevaks from Sakri block of Dhule district added that in few villages mobilising villagers was not an easy task, initially only a few people came forward to offer sharmdan but after watching their commitment and enthusiasm for few days, the number of peoples joining them increased.
Also, the event was attended by Dr. Marcella D’souza Executive Director (WOTR). She emphasized on the importance of stakeholder engagement approach to carry out watershed development work. Shri Pradeep Purandare- retired senior professor from Water And Land Management Institute (WALMI), added, “Although, the state is facing conflicts on water issues at different scales, there are inadequate efforts to resolve these conflicts. The efforts being made by Jalsevaks will certainly help to reduce these conflicts at least at village level by increasing their water security”. Besides that, Shri. Goski from GSDA quoted,”The water budgeting exercise has immense potential to change the water-use scenario in the villages where villagers plan the water- use according to the available water stock”. Shri.Jadhav- Project Coordinator, Integrated Water and Management Programme (IWMP)- Ahmednagar also graced the occasion.
The award ceremony provided an opportunity for the Jalsevaks to interact and share their work with the dignitaries present. It boosted their energy and confidence to motivate villagers to adopt sustainable water use practices.