March 31, 2020

Primary Thrust - Watershed Development in Darlaghat, Himachal Pradesh

When ACF commenced work in Darlaghat they soon realized that water was the most pressing issue impacting the community.
Challenges like erratic rainfall and limited harvesting structures were one of the many issues the farmers and communities faced in the area. This was affecting both agricultural work and household needs in the villages. Wrong techniques were leading to soil erosion, eradication of the green cover and reducing agricultural produce leading to a drop in income levels of the community.
ACF decided that the watershed development from 'Ridge to Valley approach' through proper management of land and available water, was the most effective solution to achieve impact and sustainability in the area. This involved the conservation, protection, and development of resources with active participation of local community - recognized by the Government, Ambuja Cement Foundation was taken on board as a key implementing agency of several large scale water projects which were funded by Government.
In year 2003, ACF began its intervention on Water Resource Management in Darlaghat, to address the problem of lack of availability of water for drinking and agriculture. 10707 hectares area of land was treated working closely with NABARD with full participation of the community. Activities like bunding, contour trenches, construction of ponds, water storage tanks for irrigation purposes, construction of check dams and gabion structures were implemented via Watershed Committees to stop soil erosion in the watershed project area.
With government support and funding, ACF took the responsibility for execution of 7 micro watersheds in Hamirpur location with an area of 3300 Hectare and total project cost of Rs.1.98 Crore. In 2005, the Administration of District Bilaspur gave an opportunity to ACF to be a part of the Water Resource development projects. ACF further executed 9 micro watersheds with an area of 4500 Hectare and project cost of Rs.90 Lakh. Similarly, various projects were undertaken through government schemes. With tremendous experience in the watershed project, ACF is now implementing the watershed project in District Solan.
Area (ha)
Project Outlet (lakhs)
Watershed Development Project - Hamirpur
100% fund -DRDA Hamirpur
Watershed Development Project - Bilaspur
100% fund - DRDA Bilaspur
Watershed Development Project - Dhundan
100 % fund - NABARD
Watershed Development Project - Kashlog
50 % fund - Sir Ratan Tata Trust
Watershed Project- Daseran
100% fund-NABARD
Watershed project-Saryanj Sarma
100% fund-NABARD

The results have been transformative to the region and water is once again flourishing in the area.  Over 2 decades of intense water work, ACF has achieved the following impacts:
·       The Social Return on Investment in Darlaghat Watershed was Rs. 12.53 for every rupee invested
·       51041 cum storage capacity structures have been created and more than 3.21 Lakh cumt of rain water harvested in 2019.
·       Cultivable waste land has been decreased by 15.15% in Saryanj-Sarma watershed project whereas 35% in Daseran watershed project.
·       Gross irrigated area is increased 45.09% in Saryanj Sarma watershed project  and  24.92% in Daseran
·       Net irrigation area is increased 45.09% in Saryanj and 25.53% in Daseran
·       Dairy milk production is increased by 200%
·       Kisan Credit Card increased by 77.72 % (315-264) in new KCC opening and amount sanctioning by different banks 96.23%. Reference - Service Area Bank Statement (2012-2018)
·       Community planning have been done with 726 household with 490 women participating in community planning which is 67.49%.
·       State award for the best NGO in Watershed Development, Darlaghat

Of course there is much more work to be done and ACF has bold plans to continue tackling water issues in the district:
Water budgeting for all core villages in future for ensuring the judicious use of the water, along with other harvesting and recharging of rainwater initiatives to make location water positive by 5 times.
100% drinking water facilities across core village (41 no.) by 2020 and sustainability of pre-post drinking water quality testing through PRIs.
Working on Milli watershed project approach for broader impact in the area; linkages of water storage structure to farm field for improving the irrigation facilities; and promotion of Solar based lift irrigation facilities.
March 31, 2020

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