This is an article primarily based on inputs provided by Mr. Ramachandra Behera of REACHD, and my

site visit in July, 2003.  Please find a couple of photographs (I have video footage as well) of some of

the wonders you have helped create.

--Priyadarsan

 

 

“Pani Panchayat” – a case in point as

the best alternative for earning livelihood for low income groups

 

1.0       Introduction

 

Orissa, being one of the poorest states in India, has almost 80% of its habitants living in rural areas where they depend on agriculture and allied activities for earning livelihoods. Agriculture sector is suffering due to application of unscientific methods, non-availability of irrigation facilities and scanty rainfall. Since people have changed their occupation from forest based activities to agriculture, paddy is one of the major cereals (crop) of the farmers of Orissa, Green gram, Black gram, Horse gram, Brinjal (eggplant), Onion, Potato and other vegetable crops are supplementary to the major crop. All these varieties needs water for increase in production and even to protect the crop itself. Only 20% of the total cultivable land in Orissa is covered under irrigation projects and the rest 80% depend on the vagaries of rainfall. Moreover, there are precious few facilities for proper harvesting of rain water. Every year there is a need of 1300 m.m to 1600 m.m. of rain for Kharif crop. Though Orissa witnesses more than 1300 m.m rain fall but due to its irregular and erratic nature the farmers are facing drought like situations almost every year.

 

2.0       Situation Study

 

The district of Bolangir is one of the most backward and under-developed regions in the whole state. The district is dominated by Schedule Tribe populations. Drought is a permanent feature for the people of this region. The farmers are suffering a lot due to drought situations and due to non availability of locally based wage earning activities. People are migrating with or without their family to the neighboring states for earning livelihoods. This type of phenomenon is very common in Bolangir District where people tend to migrate to Chatishgarh, Maharastra and Andhra Pradesh for almost for 6-8 months in a year (November to June). This also leads to people inviting different infectious/contagious diseases. The education of their children suffers. The following example of Kailash Dharua can be a lesson for all migrants.  

 

Kailash Dharua is a land less farmer and wage earner, living in very poor condition in the village Bagbahali in Patnagarh Block of Bolangir District. Due to acute poverty and non availability of local wage earning facilities he has migrated to Chennai with his family last year. He was engaged there as daily wager in a brick making factory. After some days Kailash was missed some where and till date he is not returned to home. His wife and children now returned to their native village at Bagbahali and living in distress conditions. The matter was also informed to the District Administration and yet no result was found either in finding Kailash or in rehabilitating his family (his wife, Parents and four girl Childs).

 

Responding to this regular issue and to formulate a more permanent solution of the problems of the low income groups, REACHD (an NGO) has started Pani Panchayat program in Bagbahali village of Patnagarh block of Bolangir District, Orissa.

 

3.0       Introducing the village (Bagbahali)

 

The village Bagbahali is situated 60 k.m. from the District head quarters and 20 k.m. from the Block Head quarters of Bloangir and Patnagarh respectively. The total area of the village is 700 acres out of which only 150 acres are cultivable land and the rest is covered by village forests and fallow/waste lands. The River Sukatel is flowing at the outskirt of the village. There are 52 families with 350 populations of different tribes living in the village. The village is dominated by Ganda tribe and around 90% of the total population are belongs to Ganda Tribal community and the rest are from other tribes.

 

4.0       Presence of REACHD in the village

 

REACHD was introduced in the village in the year 1995 with undertaking of biogas plant and smokeless chulla program in the village. It is in the process of identifying scopes and opportunities for all round development of the village. With support from CAPART, in the year 1999 they have promoted 11 tribal farmers in banana farming. The farmers have cultivated Green Banana (Bhusabali) in 11 Acers of land (one acre each) and benefited. But this is very unfortunate for the farmers, when the district was affected by severe drought in the year 2000 the banana farmers are affected heavily and it has putted a big question mark for continuation of the program. Therefore the farmers are now putting stress on the permanent solution of irrigation facilities.

 

5.0       Pani Panchayat Program

 

With financial and moral support from SEEDS (based in Portland, USA) in the year 2001 REACHD has started Pani Panchayat program in the village. The Pani Panchayat, or water council, was established with 21 farmers, and a small irrigation project was completed from which 50 Acres of cultivable land is irrigated. Out of the total 50 acres of land 20 Acre is Bahal (Low land), 15 Acre is Berna (Medium) and the rest 15 Acre is Ant (high land) category of land. Before it was possible to cultivate once in a year in 20 Acre (Low land) but now with lift irrigation facility it is possible to cultivate two crops in a year in all the 50 acres of land. The irrigation facility is functional in the year 2002 and till date the farmers have got two good harvests using this infrastructure.

 

The following table shows the Rabi crop harvested during the period January 2003 to May 2003.

 

5.1       Table : A – Paddy Crop

 

Sl.No

Name of the Farmer

Total Investment (in Rs.)

Income (in Rs.)

 

 

 

Quintal

Rate

Amount

1

Bhagirathi Rai

2,500.00

26

270.00

7,020.00

2

Dayanidhi Rai

2,000.00

20

270.00

5,400.00

3

Gunanidhi Rai

1,800.00

18

270.00

4,860.00

4

Parameswar Rai

1,800.00

18

270.00

4,860.00

5

Pratap Rai

1,800.00

18

270.00

4,860.00

6

Sripati Rai

1,400.00

14

270.00

3,780.00

7

Lakpati Rai

1,300.00

13

270.00

3,510.00

8

Kartika Rai

1,800.00

18

270.00

4,860.00

9

Bhakta Dharlla

4,200.00

42

270.00

11,340.00

10

Ghanasyam Dharlla

4,100.00

41

270.00

11,070.00

11

Krushna Bhue

800.00

8

270.00

2,160.00

12

Budu Bhue

800.00

8

270.00

2,160.00

13

Niranjan Bhue

1,000.00

10

270.00

2,700.00

14

Bhikari bhue

2,000.00

20

270.00

5,400.00

15

Kanhei Bhue

500.00

5

270.00

1,350.00

16

Sankirtan Bhue

800.00

8

270.00

2,160.00

17

Gobardhan Bhue

800.00

8

270.00

2,160.00

18

Kailash Dharua

800.00

8

270.00

2,160.00

19

Baruan Mehar

1,600.00

16

270.00

4,320.00

20

Purna Mehar

900.00

9

270.00

2,430.00

 

Total :

32,800.00

 

 

88,560.00

 

5.2       Table : B – Potal Crop (Vegetable)

 

Sl.No.

Name of the Farmer

Expenditure (in Rs.)

Income (in Rs.)

1

Niranjan Bhue

600.00

2,000.00

2

Bhikari Bhue

900.00

3,000.00

3

Gunanidhi Rai

200.00

500.00

 

Total

1,700.00

5,500.00

 

5.3       Table : C – Groundnut Crop

 

Sl.No.

Name of the Farmer

Expenditure (in Rs.)

Income (in Rs.)

1

Gunanidhi Rai

300.00

1,000.00

2

Bhagirathi Rai

300.00

1,000.00

3

Kartika Rai

500.00

1,500.00

 

Total :

1,100.00

3,500.00

 

5.4       Table : D – Bringal Crop

 

Sl.No.

Name of the Farmer

Expenditure (in Rs.)

Income (in Rs.)

1

Niranjan Bhue

200.00

800.00

2

Bhikari Bhue

800.00

4,000.00

 

Total  :

1,000.00

4,800.00

 

 

Grand Total of income & Expenditure of Rabi Crop (A+B+C+D) is:

                                                                                    Expenditure is Rs.    36,600.00

                                                                                    Income is         Rs. 1,02,360.00

                                                                                   

N.B. Expenditure includes labour wage of 500 man days @ Rs. 30/- per day.

 

 

 

6.0       Project Result/Output

 

 The following are some of the major achievements/outputs of the project

 

-         An opportunity for 21 low income group farmer families for strengthening their economy and also helped the other villagers indirectly by creating local agriculture-based wage earning facilities.

 

-         Increase/enhance in the production/productivity by providing irrigation facility and increase the income from Rs. 5000/- to Rs. 10,000/- per Acre with a year of time.

 

-         Migration checked: out of the total 30 migratory families 19 families did not migrate last year and are enrolling their child in to school and now their children are going to school regularly.

 

-         The farmers are now able to refund loan taken from local money lenders taken previously for their household management and now they are able to make them self sustain in managing their household expenses within a very short span of time.

 

-         The farmers now able to stock sufficient food grains for their family consumption though out the year.

 

-         Besides all the benefits, the farmers jointly pay a) Rs. 23,000/- towards electricity charges, b) replaced a new transformer costing Rs. 9,000/- , and c) spend Rs. 2,000/- towards the maintenance of the pump set.

 

 

7.0       Conclusion

 

Pani Panchayat program is a very significant mile stone for the poor farmers and this type of program further needs to be strengthened in a bigger way with greater effect. The program has a great effect on the socio economic living of the poor and low income peoples living in distress conditions and struggle against the vicissitudes of nature and society for their survival. This can easily be gauged by analysis of the people’s quotation “Now God Indra is in our hand and we can utilize him whenever and where ever we feel necessary”.

 

 

The pictures below show (1) farmers surrounding an irrigation system built with help of SEEDS, (2) the electric pump set (precariously housed!) , (3) the fruits of their labor and the miracle of water!

 

 

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