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Mission Kakatiya Transforming Rural Lives in Telangana

Telangana has launched the Mission for restoration of water bodies and it is bringing cheers among farmers. BK Jha visits Telangana to see what is happening at the ground-level
Mission Kakatiya Transforming Rural Lives in Telangana

The farmers of Revalli village in Mahaboobnagar district of Telangana State are visibly elated as they have adequate water for irrigation. Farmers normally grow Paddy and Palli (Oilseed) here. Thanks to Mission Kakatiya, their main worry has been well taken care of.

In this part of the district four medium size reservoirs do not fully meet the requirement of water for crops. Under Mission Kakatiya, restorations of minor irrigation tanks and other water bodies are in full swing across state and that brings cheers to residents of Revalli as this area now holds enough water to pass this season.

A farmer of Revalli, M Lingam says, “There are four reservoirs – Vattam, Yedla, Khargena and Narlapur in our district but farmers need more for crops. Under the Mission several tanks and water bodies are being restored. That is a great help as we had scanty rainfall this year.”

“Our reservoirs will fill all our tanks, if restored and if all tanks are de-silted, entire district will be out of water problem for farming and drinking purpose as well,” he adds.
“So far 2,900 tanks out of total 7,480 have been restored in Mahaboobnagar district. Mission Kakatiya aims to restore 46,531 sources across nine districts by 2018-19. Once completed (by 2019) the Mission will bring in nearly 25 lakh acre under irrigation, which is presently 10 lakh acre,” says K Suresh Kumar, Chief Engineer, Minor Irrigation, Department of Irrigation and CAD, Telangana State.

The Mission now enters its second phase. Having learnt lessons from the hurdles faced during the first phase of Mission Kakatiya, the Telangana State government has come out with a time-bound action plan for the revival of tanks under the second phase of the programme.

T Harish Rao, Irrigation Minister says, “Taking into account the hiccups in executing works in the first phase, foolproof arrangements have been made to complete the works on schedule.”

The department has been reorganised by appointing sufficient staff in every district for the timely completion of works. Earlier one superintending engineer used to see work in four districts and now each district has one SE, each Assembly constituency will be looked after by one executive engineer level official and a Mandal will be monitored by Junior Engineer.

“Rs 2,200 crore had been earmarked for the restoration and revival of tanks every year by the state government. In five years, the State will fund Rs 11,500 crore. NABARD will support with Rs 2,000 crore. We are expecting Rs 1,500 crore from the Centre under RRR and a gap of Rs 5,000 crore will be filled up from external agencies,” the Minister says.

Overall, Rs 20,000 crore will be spent under Mission Kakatiya in five years.Transparency adopted in executing the works received accolades from many including the World Bank. Rajendra Singh, the Waterman of India, who visited Telangana last year, says, “Mission Kakatiya is a success story. The mission is the best water conservation model in the country at present. It is very interesting to note that the Telangana government is making efforts to revive the past glory of Kakatiya kings.”

“Preserving and protection of water bodies is a part of Telangana culture. The government would be spending over Rs 20,000 crore for a programme meant to protect water bodies. The Centre and other states should learn from Telangana,” he adds.

Conservation Culture

Telangana has a history of conservation and efficient use of water resources to meet a variety of needs of local population. This practice originated several hundreds of years during the reign of the Satvahanas and Kakatiya dynasties. Some of the noteworthy large tanks Pakal, Ramappa, Laknavaram, and Sanigaram were constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries by the Kakatiya kings. Village tanks have been the most important water resource on which rural communities depend for their livelihood. Here the tanks are used primarily for rice cultivation. Tanks are normally located at hydrologically and ideal sites, some of them in sequential chains or cascades, effectively capturing the rainfall and some serving different functions like irrigation, soil and water conservation, flood and drought control, livestock, domestic use, recharge of ground water, among others.

Importance of Irrigation

Telangana lies in Deccan Plateau which is at 110 m level above the Godavari river flow. Over 65 per cent of the state’s population depends on agriculture and nearly 85 per cent of the farmers come under small and marginal category with an average land holding size of 1.11 hectare. Majority of Telangana farmers depend on rainfed agriculture and more than 70 per cent of cropped areas is rainfed resulting lower yields per unit. Nine of the ten districts of the State are drought-prone leading to socio-economic stress.

“Mission Kakatiya started in 2014-15 as mass peoples’ movement. Every year we will take up 9,350 tanks for restoration,” explains Harish.

The main objective of the Mission is to enhance the development of agriculture based income of small and marginal farmers through sustainable use of irrigation resources by restoration of minor irrigation sources, strengthening of community based irrigation management, providing agricultural services, encouraging diversification and use of new technologies.

Chief Engineer, Minor Irrigation, Nagendra Rao, says, “For the second phase in 2016-17, 9,430 tanks will be taken up for restoration in nine districts. We have issued tenders for almost all proposed work for this fiscal.”

The works proposed under the Mission include de-silting of tanks, restoration of feeder channel, re-selecting of irrigation channels, repairs to cross drainage (CD) and cross masonry (CM) works, repairs of Bund, Weir and Sluices.

Best Practices

Mission Kakatiya is taken up with community participation and farmers are encouraged to lift the silt and apply in their fields. Farmers say application of silt in their fields resulted in reduction of chemical fertilisers by 30 per cent and this practice has increased water retention capacity of the soil. Kumar says on our part transparency is the key to success.“Administrative approvals, technical sanctions, tendering process, agreement details, progress monitoring and bill payment are being monitored online. A website has been launched with public interface,” he adds.

Further, with the participation of all stakeholders, a Mini Tank Bund, with recreational facilities like amusement park, boating, is being developed in each Assembely constituency. Telangana has 119 Assembly Constituency. With the cost of nearly Rs 5 crore each, total cost of the project would be around Rs 600 crore. Development Committee has been formed and all stakeholders are its member. The Committee will look after such Bund in each Constituency.

Impact

According to a pilot study conducted by ICRISAT, impact of silt application on soil is tremendous. Addition of tank silt in fields has improved available water content. Moisture retention has gone up by 4-7 days. “ Improvement in clay content will not only retain higher moisture but will also reduce the losses of nutrients through leaching because of improved cation exchange capacity (CEC),” it says.

Mission Kakaitya would certainly bridge 63 per cent gap in irrigated land under minor irrigation by 2019 with 25 lakh acre under irrigation from existing 10 lakh acre. The project will help in increasing crop intensification and some diversification to high value crops. It would also lead to further development of fisheries and livestock. The rise of ground water levels in Tank influence zone helps in aquifer recharge. In nutshell, the Mission is transforming rural lives.  

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