Konkan, one of the four geographical zones of Maharashtra state of India, has become more fragile due to its location, geography and being sandwiched between Western Ghat ridge on one side and Arabian sea on the other. It does not have ideal sites for large reservoirs like the other easterly flowing rivers originating in Sahyadri ranges, nor has possibility of developing large command areas for food production. Intersecting creaks and backwaters have rendered sizable portion of the flat lands along river and creek banks into marshes or are inundated by sea water, spoiling crop year after year. Though at times land holdings are larger, it is only apparent as productive land is far too little and most other lands locally referred to as 'Varkas' (Waste land) yield nothing to very little. Rice is the major food grain crop with horticulture on well drained soils comprising mango, cashew, sapota, coconut, vegetables and flowers. Thus high rainfall, high runoff, high stream velocity, higher rate of erosion, rapid removal of sediments, rivers reaching maturity right at the foothills of Western Ghat and all the disadvantages of nearness of sea are the causes of degradation of the region and the people. This obviously results in migration, a phenomenon that came into existence a century back and is associated with rapid growth of metropolitan Bombay. In post-independence era, wanton deforestation has accentuated this degradation further to near point of no return. Inspite of such large quantities of meteoric water availability annually, the region suffers water scarcity for eight months specially, March to June, till monsoon begins. The region suffers desiccations, though humidity is high owing to high slopes, non-retentive soils and hard rock underground geological features.
Village Kunde is located in Bhivandi Taluka of Thane District, State Maharashtra of India. It is nearly 60 Km away from the district headquarter Thane and 27 Km away from the Taluka headquarter Bhivandi. The village has 632 hectare of total land, out of which 260 hectares is cultivated land and 104 hectares is waste land. Total population of the village is 2654 (345 families) spread in 3 hamlets, out of which 1330 are male and 1324 are female. Primary source of drinking water are community wells and bore wells.
The geology of the village area is very much monotonous being of trappaean country. There is no other rock type other than the Deccan Basalts and their derivatives that make up the country rock. This area is characterized by hard massive basalt with open jointing. Any soil that is generated as a result of rock alteration is immediately removed and transported.
Socio-economic development of Kunde Village:
It is to be achieved through watershed available for the purpose. It has been experience that in spite of good rain the paucity and scarcity of water is the main cause to all ills of under development. In the past nature abundantly displayed the natural resources with its ability to rejuvenate those resources and maintain the overall balance owing to large scale denudation the basic fabric of nature's ability to sustain balance has been placed at stake and slowly the capacity to regenerate on its own has been adversely affected. The effect of denudation of forest was multiple. It affected rainfall, allowed gushing of almost every drop of rain water along with top fertile soil and took down the water table level below more than 10 meters, resulting in loss of retention capacity of moisture. No water, no work, no wage and the migration to relatively green pasture was inevitable to survive and that too at the cost of stability, loss of education to children and most of all tendency to accept the fate of bonded labour merely to overcome to some extent uncertainty of life and hopefully look at the better times to come. Unfortunately, this continues since the management for water resources despite of abundant rainfall is lacking.
In 1977, UNCOD (United Nations Conference On Desertification) carried out Global Survey to assess damage done by the merciless & extravagant use of natural resources without bothering about the implications of the greed so vehemently expressed. It is predicted in the report that more than 60 % part of India will succumb to the impending desertification. This will be a calamity since even when 71 % part of earth land is water, we in India face severe problems if the monsoon is not regular & sufficient. The desertification of more than 2/3 of the Nation would mean an irrecoverable catastrophe. Another 3-4 decades are going to be very crucial if corrective measures are not taken. The only solution to overcome this situation was to revert back the cycle of nature by afforestation, protection to animals & birds and most importantly to conserve soil & water resources and devise methods to augment the same. India being vast country, it is not possible to achieve the dream by considering 'whole' as the object but to conceive achievements in 'parts' and reach to the 'whole'.
Therefore, Rotary Club of Bombay Kandivli has conceived a composite program of area development & afforestation to conserve soil & water to help raise the ever receding water table. The village proposed for this project is 'Kunde'. The program will increase residual moisture content in the soil to enable farmers to reap two crops unlike today's dependence of single paddy crop. Also this will enable grow more in quantity due to constant feed of moisture through soil. Afforestation would create an amenable atmosphere for animals & birds to return and thrive on the nature's gift to them. Top soil would remain in place due to hold of roots and would increase the produce like fodder etc. for animals to graze & survive. The wells get dried up in Feb/March. The water available from Oct to Feb/March is just sufficient, it at all, for drinking purposes. The drudgery of survival, uncertainty, insecurity and ignorance continues from one generation to the other. There general health is that of under nourished human beings, appearance thin & anxiety prone because of uncertainties. The main cause of all ills lie in non-availability of pure drinking water throughout the year.
Objectives of the Project:
To reduce erosion and runoff.
To arrest further degradation of land and gully formation.
To increase ground water discharge of Kunde watershed.
To develop vegetative cover and biomass availability.
To enhance sustainable livelihood opportunities for villagers of Kunde village.
To develop habitat for Wild Life.
Proposal is to construct i) 2 nos. of check dams and ii) afforestation in 18 hectare of land in the 'Kunde' village area.
Check dam is a type of structure, which dam up a small river or water stream in order to break the flow of water during the monsoon, allows it to seep in to soil. The check dam store surface water for use both during & after the monsoon they help in ground water recharge of the area. Recharge of water help in raising the water table in the area. Availability of water insures the increase of agricultural yield by multi-crop.
Afforestation is proposed to be carried out in 18 Ha of land by planting 28,800 saplings @ 1600 saplings / Ha. The aim of the project is not only to conserve the water and soil but also to ensure the environmental stability. The natural vegetation constitutes timber species like Ain, Kinjali (Terminalia spp.), Teak (Tectonia grandis), Karonda (fruit plant) and other bushy plants. The forest has been overgrazed and cut at some places and needs immediate reforestation with the locally adapted species. The heavy rain in Monsoon have continuously eroded the land leading to formation of number of gullies along the sloppy area. Therefore, to check erosion and especially, extension of gullies, it is necessary to undertake plantation of suitable adapted species on sloppy land. For this purpose, valuable timber wood species such as Teak, Bamboo, Jambul, Acacia auriculiformes, Acacia Mangium, Custard apple, Cashew nuts etc. The planting will be done by pit method.
The details of cost analysis for check dams and of afforestation have been worked out. Two nos. of check dam will cost around INR 29,00,000 (USD 41,600) @ INR 14,50,000 (USD 21,300) per check dam.
For afforestation of 18 hectare of land piece, it will cost INR 15,12,000 (USD 22,200) considering 1600 plants per hectare @ 2.5 X 2.5 M distance.
Rotary Club of Bombay Kandivli has always planned major projects considering sustainability in focus. For Project Kunde, following measures have been taken so far:
i)RCC of Kunde Village was chartered in Feb 2015. Activities are prioritized and undertaken in consultation with RCC members and villagers. RCC subsequently supervise and report the progress of the work to the Club.
ii)5-10% contribution of villagers/ beneficiaries is being assured in the projects by way of cash contribution or through labour works. Subsequent maintenance by the beneficiaries.
iii)Periodic visits by Club members to the village for interactions and future plans.
iv)Study is planned to be undertaken to harness the resources available in the village surroundings and convert them into income yielding assets for sustenance.
v)Plan to involve a professional agency with expertise in 'Rural and Tribal Area Development' to guide and advise the Club in detailed project study, planning and execution. Concerned Government agencies and local village administration will also be consulted and involved in the project.