One Million Farm ponds: A Revolution?

In his budget speech on February 1 the Union Finance Minister announced that the government expects that by March this year about 10 lakh farm ponds would have been constructed, double the target that had been set for the year in the previous budget. Moreover, the budget this year set a goal of an additional 5 lakh farm ponds to be constructed in the coming financial year; with the Mr. Jaitley stating that this “measure will contribute greatly to drought proofing of gram panchayats.”

Farm ponds can go a long way towards ensuring water security for millions of farmers across the country, allowing them to tide over periods of water scarcity and assure that water is available when needed, yet they are no silver bullet. Before celebrating the success of the drive to build farm ponds it is important to take a look at how the schemes that promote farm ponds operate in reality, and the implications that they have, both for farmers and the environment.

This week Eshwer Kale, a researcher at WOTR appeared on NDTV India’s Prime Time with Ravish Kumar to discuss the implications of the government’s emphasis on farm ponds in the budget. On the show Eshwer explained that the implementation and use of farm ponds Maharashtra, where farmers fill huge farm ponds, lined with plastic, by pumping groundwater is a cause for worry. This practice, rather than reducing the vulnerability of rural communities, may result in declining groundwater levels and the de facto privatisation of what was once a shared resource.  You may watch the show here: http://khabar.ndtv.com/video/show/prime-time/have-you-heard-the-sound-of-farm-pond-revolution-447918

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