Rejuvenating permanent rabi fallow through renovation of traditional rainwater harvesting system

Sri Kalyan Singh is ex gram pradhan of Parasai village in Babina block, Jhansi district of U.P. He is a big farmer with about 40 acre land holding but does regular cultivation in only about 25 acre of land due to water scarcity. He is about 65 years old. In his village, there in one haweli bundhi whose water spread is 8 ha with a capacity to store 75000 m3 rainwater. The catchment of haweli is 51 ha. This haweli bundhi was constructed in 18th century by his forefather. Besides assured production of crop from submerged area in rabi, this structure was lifeline for the village as it ensured regular supply of drinking water. Because of impounding water in rainy season, all wells surrounding haweli and in downstream used to get recharged. In due course of time consequent upon fragmented of families, the haweli has gone under possession of others and his offsprigs could not maintain. The structure dilapidated and outlet was washed away, hence become redundant. Since the village was facing acute shortage of drinking water besides reduced productivity. Shri Kalyan Singh possess around 15 acre area on the upper reach of haweli catchment and he calls it khaira haar. In his lifetime, he recollects that he never sowed this area during rabi season. Considering value of agricultural land, he continued to plough this area during kharif and sowed groundnut and blackgram. He says that sorghum/bajara could also had been sown but due to its strategic location and high biotic pressure of stray cattle he did not grow many crops, instead sowed sesame that to occasionally and got no yield due to water stress at flowering stage. Meanwhile, Parasai-Sindh watershed project was initiated in 2011 and activities for water resource development were prioritized in due consultation with villagers. Haweli rejuvenation was taken up on top priority. These included construction of drop structure and renovation of washed away structure. About 35 m length of structure was constructed after core wall construction. Drop structure was constructed on old site for safe disposal of excess water in 2012-13 at a nominal cost of Rs. 2.5 lakhs. During 2013 there was high rainfall (mm). This enabled the structure to store water and recharge wells. Sri Kalyan Singh realized the impact of haweli in his khaira haar as his well was fully recharged and supported 24 hrs continuous running of 6 hp diesel engine during post monsoon. He showed groundnut in kharif in this holding and harvested groundnut worth Rs. 2.967 lakhs. In following rabi season, considering water availability in well, he sowed wheat in this holding and harvested produce worth Rs. 2.769 lakhs. His net income has increased by 2.55 lakh as compared to pre-intervention phase. This enabled him to get rid of all his debts and accomplish long pending social obligations. He got his tractor repaired and living contented life. He has now become one ambassador in spreading message of rainwater harvesting and particularly haweli renovation which removed drinking water shortage of whole village, reduced drudgery of farmers in terms of animal care and rabi crop irrigation. Haweli renovation alone has brought significant changes in living standard of villagers. This has harmonized life of different category dwellers, created employment awareness on their own holding and in village itself as reflected from increased number of boys and girls goring to school in clean clothes. Income from permanent fallow in upper reach after watershed intervention  
Scenario Season Crops/ Livestock Sown area (ha) Expenditure  (₹ ha-1) Expenditure in sown area (₹)  Income (₹ ha-1) Income from sown area (₹) Net income (₹) B:C Ratio
Pre rejuvenation of traditional rainwater harvesting system Kharif Groundnut 5.0 20008 100040 21875 109375 9335 1.09
Blackgram 1 9700 9700 10110 10110 410 1.04
Rabi Permanent  fallow for want of irrigation water
Total net annual income (₹) 9745
Post rejuvenation of traditional rainwater harvesting system Kharif Groundnut 6 25791 154746 49450 296700 141954 1.92
Rabi Wheat 6 25657 153942 46150 276900 122958 1.80
Total net annual income (₹) 264912