DIVERSION BASED IRRIGATIONPROGRAMME: Case of phad systems promoted by DILASA in Vidarbhai Tata Trust Sir Dorabji This report presents the larger context of the diversion based irrigation (DBI) programme of SDTT and subsequently describes phad, a diversion based irrigation system being promoted by Dilasa under its project in Yavatmal district of Vidarbha. It thereafter goes on to discuss the livelihood systems of the area, the relevance of the system, its uses and salient management features in the particular project circumstances. The report looks at the adoption of these neo-traditional diversion works, as well as aspects related to technical design; management and use; and economic viability. DBI programme context The Sir Dorabji Tata Trust (SDTT) has been implementing a programme on diversion-based irrigation (DBI) since early 2009 to promote the development of small scale irrigation through diversion of water from streams. A diversion based irrigation system is one which diverts a portion of water from a natural stream/water course/river and uses it with or without intermediate storage for the purpose of irrigating crops and for other human ends. Diversion based irrigation systems have been in vogue for possibly decades in regions that have appropriate features. These are known by different names in different parts of the country: Kul in Himachal Pradesh, Tar Bandh in Mahakoshal, This report has been Phad in Maharashtra, Dongs in north Assam, Zebo in Nagaland, prepared by the Diversion Khadins in Rajasthan, Pukhar in Jhalawar areas of Madhya Based Irrigation Programme Pradesh and Rajasthan, Ahar Pyne in Kaimur plateau and Secretariat of Livolink adjacent areas of Jharkhand and South Bihar, etc. Some have Foundation for Sir Dorabji been destroyed by an insensitive public administration, some Tata Trust and Allied Trusts have fallen into disrepair, some have dried up as the hills have as a part of its become denuded and some have shrunk in size as social issues documentation work on of managing them have become complex. community led water initiatives. The DBI programme of the Trust aims to promote these systems and is being implemented through 21 NGOs in 13 States of the country, the focus being on undulating, hilly and mountainous (UHM) regions that are poorly served by irrigation and are home to the poorest. “These regions are at a great disadvantage with respect to both these sources of irrigation: the terrain lacks sites suitable for storage of significant quantities of water and makes Contact: transportation of water from rivers or storage sites to the farms Livolink Foundation difficult and expensive; and there is too little water 1826-C-1, Siddhi Vihar underground because of the nature of the soils, presence of Barabari, Khandagiri rocks close to the surface and the fact that rainwater absorbed Bhubaneshwar-751030 by soils gets drained out to springs, rivers, floodplains and firstname.lastname@example.org valleys downstream due to gravity.“ (Joshi, 2011)ii
Within these pockets whatever irrigation development takes place is in turn concentrated inrelatively flat pockets like valleys and floodplains. “Though potential for large schemes does notexist, these regions do have opportunities - localized and dispersed - to harness water fromperennial and semi-perennial streams to cumulatively serve large numbers of very poor people.Due to the terrain such water can be diverted downhill to nearby fields… Most of the projectsare in remote villages inhabited by adivasis and some also provide drinking water.” (ibid)Phad irrigation systemThe project implemented by Dilasaiii under the DBI programme in Vidarbha deals with phadirrigation systems. Communities have across diverse ecological and sociopolitical contextsdevised myriad ways over time to harvest and manage water in order to sustain their lives anddo agriculture. Many of these systemsiv continue to function and are often more sustainable,cost-effective and successfully managed by local institutions. “Not only the state, but also thechieftains, service workers and women patronized and promoted the water harvesting systemsall over the country. The community participation in the management, methods of fund raisingfor development activities, utilization and choice of local construction materials (integratedapproach to man-material), construction technology and architectural deployment on thestructures were highly commendable. Man, material and methods were so interwoven that theresulted system could stand the test of time.” (Ganesh Pangare, 20??)Phad is one such community irrigation management system prevailing in the north-western partof Maharashtra and dates back to the early 16th century as per historical accounts. The system isrife in the Tapi basin on rivers Panjhrav, Mosam and Aram in Dhule and Nashik districts. Image courtesy: DilasaAccording to eminent water resources expert, R K Patilvi, the Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency,Vol XII, Khandesh, 1880 succinctly presents the physical context within which these systemsoperate and why they are suited to the topography of the area. The Gazetteer notes that theriver Panjhra in the Sahyadri range on which the phad systems were rampant “has steepgradient and flows through rocky beds, a topographical feature conducive to construction ofdiversion weirs.” (Patil, 1996) Further, the monsoon rains (June to October) contribute to therunoff apart from the existence of a significant post-monsoon flow that can keep goingsignificant irrigation in winter as well as summer season. This provided the situation for buildinga series of bandharas (low water diversion weirs 1 to 5 m high in stone masonry) across thesestreams/ river to divert waters for agricultural use. The water level in the stream was raised by
the bandhara to feed the offtaking canal and pass the excess supply downstream over the top ofthe bandhara which formed an overflow crest. The supply to the canal(s) was regulated by ahead regulator; the canals varied in length from a few hundred metres to seven kilometers.Bandharas were constructed in series to arrest the supply downstream; the availability ofcommand area at each bandhara site was kept in mind. Care was taken to select a site with agood foundation at a reasonable depth. Availability of a command nearby was anotherconsideration. “The process of selecting the site for building the structure was carried out taking intoconsideration the river base gradient and the slope of the command area… Scouring sluices wereprovided at different places as per the length of the canal. This worked as an automated cleaningdevice for the drainage of sand and silt. The average water discharge from the canal was 7-10cubic feet/sec (cusecs).” (Aditya Bastola, 2012)The design of the bandharas took a number of factors into concern - “Except a few, built straight across the stream, dams are more or less oblique, the watercourse issuing at the lower end. Where the rock below is not continuous, their forms are most irregular. In building a dam, holes were cut in the rock in the proposed line of the wall. In the holes stone uprights, sometimes small pillars taken from the Hindu temples, were set and a dam was either built in front of these or the stones were built into the dam leaving only the backs of the uprights visible. The dams are strong, clumsy walls commonly sloping on both sides to a narrow top. The materials are commonly black stone, coarse concrete mixed with small pieces of bricks and the very best cement. Occasionally large blocks are found in the face of the wall but the inner stones are all small. Dressed stone is seldom used for either facing. Except some small openings at the middle or at the base, no provision seems to have been made for removing the silt. While the dams were built with greatest care, the watercourses were laid down with strict economy.”[Dying Wisdom, Traditional Water Harvesting Systems, edited by Anil Agarwal et al. CSE, 1997, New Delhi, Page 188] Phad systems on Panjhra river, Image courtesy: Aditya Bastola
“The height of the diversion weir was selected in such manner that the excess water from theriver was automatically removed with the help of scouring sluices. The water required forirrigation purpose was diverted into the main canal, with the provision of scouring sluices inbetween the head of the canal and the saucer. The head of the canal had no provision of gate;the saucer and the scouring sluices present between the diversion weir and the head of thecanal regulated the water flow. The length and size of the canals varied amongst the bandharasdepending upon the size of the phad and the distance of water travelled from the site selectedfor the diversion of water through the weir. The reason for the variation of size and length of thecanal was to maintain the velocity of water so that the water could flow at its own gravity till itreached the main command area or the thal.”(ibid) Main layout of the bandhara and its relation with the command area, Image courtesy: Aditya BastolaThe term phad here referred to the block of land used for irrigation purposes while bandharareferred to the weir. The collection of phads (8 to 40 ha) was known as thalvii (up to 400 ha). Thephad comprised of a number of fields owned by several cultivators. The phad received waterfrom the bandhara diverted through the canal also known as pat. The canal had fielddistributaries called assarang, while the excess water was drained back into the main streamthrough sandwa or the waste weir. Phad systems on Panjhra river, Image courtesy: Aditya Bastola
A study by Aditya Bastola on the social processes and the underlying facts related to the phadsystem of water utilization and distribution explored the historical evolution of the structure, itsspatial specification related to the technology, cropping pattern and how the social realitiesrelated with traditional water management system shaped these.“The management of the phad system is under the chairman of the Bhagayat committee(irrigators’ committee) consisting of elected members from the irrigators. Number of themembers of the committee varies from committee to committee. The membership is notpermanent, usually for 2 to 4 years, but can be changed in between depending upon the interestof the members.” (Ganesh Pangare,??) The hereditary positions like hawaldar (supervisor)and jakleya (watchman) were involved in maintaining the canal system. Patkaris (waterman)used to oversee the water distribution process by operating the field gates (sasar) and the jeraimali community (some other castes also) was involved in the construction. People used tocontribute towards the construction of the structure and these watermen used to get paid bythis means. Bandharas have also been constructed by the Britishers according to some accounts.After the enactment of the Inam Abolition Act (1955) the community defined roles andresponsibilities have changed at places; many of the patkaris have been absorbed in IrrigationDepartment service.Elaborate rules for irrigation existed wherein water was supplied to the second phad only aftersupplying adequate water to the first phad. There were no written rules in place and decisionswere made on the basis of experience. Water meeting used to be held at the village level wherecropping pattern was decided based on previous years pattern. “Usually a general meeting washeld in the month of April-May (Akshaya Tritiya) where a public announcement was made forcommunity management of the water harvesting structure. Each family had to provide a pair ofbullocks and 3 men for a day to maintain the system, and the family who were not able toprovide the announcement had to pay Rs. 30 for the bullock and Rs 10 for 3 men…The process ofmobilizing the village farmers for the meeting was normally through a key person of the villagewho was often known as the Kotwal.” (ibid)Numerous such systems exist and are in use and some have been repaired and modernized bythe Irrigation Department by providing iron gates at the scouring sluices or by raising the heightof the bandharas.Uniform cropping pattern used to be followed within the phad in a season but it could varyacross phads and over the years. Paddy was grown most commonly under the phad system inPanjhra river; other crops like maize, bajra and wheat have also been introduced now. Becauseall farmers have some share of land in the main phad, an equitable system of water distributioncould be maintained. Phads are used on a rotation basis “For example in years of plentiful water,the farmer community decides to grow sugarcane in the three phads and millet in one. But in ayear of average rain the farmers would grow two phads of sugarcane and two of millet. In a badyear they allowed sugarcane in only one phad, grow millet in two and kept one fallow. “(AdityaBastola, 2012)
Image courtesy: ARTSThese systems though sustainable are facing a threat of being dilapidated. It is in this contextthat the DBI programme’s attempt to replicate the phad systems notwithstanding in a verydifferent shape in the setting of Vidarbha becomes important.The section below deals with the larger context of the Dilasa’s project area in Vidarbha beforedelving into the programme achievements and impacts.The context of VidarbhaArea marked by small land holdings , lack of food security and tribal dominanceVidarbha is the eastern region of Maharashtra comprising Nagpur and Amrawati divisions.Geographically it lies on the northern part of Deccan plateau. Dilasa’s project area in Yavatmaldistrict lies in the Amravati division, formerly known as Berarviii.Like the rest of the State it too has passed through a couple of land reform measures post 1947.The land revenue system prevalent in the area prior to independence was ryotwari wherein eachplot was surveyed, the soil classified and its assessment settled. Apart from ryotwari, a large partof the area comprised of izara villages which were held under the Waste Land Rules of 1865.Under the izara system entire villages were leased out to individuals at a low rental for a periodof about 30 years. The lessee could opt for keeping the whole village in perpetuity on paymentof 50 per cent of the fair assessment if successful in bringing a third of the land under cultivation.
Even today the former izardars of the area own several hundred hectares of land and continueto dominate the local politics of the area. During the process of land distribution people wereallotted lands in parganasix. The work of consolidation of holdings was aimed at mutualexchange of holdings to make them as compact as possible but was discontinued as the Recordof Rights was not up-to-date. Most people in the area had small and scattered fragments ofholdings across several villages making agriculture unviable. The pattern of land holdingsindicates that concentration of land still continues and disparity among the agriculturalpopulation is very marked even after the implementation of the land reforms act.Underdevelopment and distressThe living conditions of farmers in this region are poor compared to India as a whole. “Therehave been more than 32,000 farmers suicides in Maharashtra in a decade, of which 70 per centwere in the 11 districts of Vidarbha region”x. All this, in spite of the fact that “Vidarbha holdstwo-thirds of Maharashtras mineral resources, three quarters of its forest resources, and is anet producer of power”xi.The area is marked with agricultural distress leading to suicides and the immediate trigger hasbeen traced to yield and price fluctuations in cotton and discontinuation of monopolyprocurement of the crop by the Maharashtra State Cooperative Cotton Growers Federation(MSCCGF) during early 2000s. Prices offered by private traders were more than thirty percentlower. The lag in energization of pumpsets in Dilasa’s project district - Yavatmal whose stage ofgroundwater development stands at 24.48 per cent is leading to low irrigation. The cost ofcultivation of cotton, the major crop of the basin is very high as compared to the price received.As per Planning Commission’s reportxii the average production cost per hectare in the case BTCotton is Rs. 16000 and the income Rs. 20100 for a yield of 10 quintal/ hectare. During 2008-09the Cotton Corporation of India, NAFED and MSCCGF procured cotton at favorable prices thusserving as a means of relief to the farmers. The breakdown of the cotton economy during thelast decade has led to shift towards crops like soyabean which are less risky both from the yieldand price angle. In December 2011, the Government of Maharashtra provided financialassistance per hectare of land to cotton growers of Vidarbha affected by poor yields. Thoughoranges are a major diversification in the Vidarbha region they have failed to catch up in thearea.Thus water is the limiting factor for agricultural production and there is a need to renovate thesmall irrigation structures constructed long back to provide supplementary irrigation to cottonand soyabean. The implementation of the watershed programme has failed to take care of this.An IWMI Tata paper notes that “Popular sentiment attributes this underdevelopment to thestepmotherly treatment by the state. However, there are significant variations in levels ofdevelopment within the region itself which cannot be explained by state action alone. Analysisshows that differential development in Vidarbha is also a function of natural endowments andsocial ecology. High income areas are the mainland areas with lower tribal population whichmake more intensive use of their natural endowments. Dependability of source of irrigation isvery critical to income generation; in the absence of that, mere inclusion in a command areameans nothing.”xiiiWhy small scale diversion systems? The dismal state of large irrigation projects in the projectareaAt the moment there is a thrust in the region to remove backlog in sectors such as irrigation(backlog of the order of 55.04 per cent as on 1994) and that has led to a sudden stimulus inconstruction of dams of all sizes. While reliance on dams has created unsustainable cropping
patterns in other regions of the country, reservoirs in Vidarbha though designed for kharif, rabiand hot weather season, have barely any demand during kharif leading to vast quantities ofwater lying unused. The reservoirs serve as evaporation pans and the large carry over storagesfrom the previous season have more recently in 2006 led to floods.According to a CWC report of 2007 while the extreme drought conditions and the lack ofavailability of water for irrigation has resulted in numerous farmer suicides in the Vidarbha belt,reservoirs in the region are choked up with excess water which apparently never reached thepoor farmers. The report cites data for the four main reservoirs in the Painganga-Wardha-Wainganga basin with carry over storages way above the norm of 10 percent or less of thecapacity such as -the Upper Painganga (44 per cent on June 16), Kamthi Khairi (88 per cent),Upper Wardha (33 per cent) and Arunawati (28 per cent). The spur in irrigation projects in theregion needs to be seen in this context. Experts have increasingly highlighted the need for atransparent and accountable reservoir policy and reservoir operation rules.If we look at small structures on the other hand, according to Government figures, 580 tanksirrigate 25,190 ha in Yavatmal. These were constructed under Tribal Development Scheme or byZilla Parishad and Minor Irrigation Division. Dilasa’s survey shows that the actual irrigated area isnot even 1000 ha. While some structures are unused because of lack of water, others are lyingunused because of poor design. Dilasa is of the view that “it is possible to bring 25,000 ha - 70per cent of the districts agricultural land - under irrigation in just one season at a cost of mereRs. 8,000 to 10,000 per ha by harnessing water from these 580 tanks - compare this with theirrigation potential of 16 large and medium irrigation projects in the district, that collectivelyirrigate just 4-5 per cent of agricultural land in the district, at an astronomical cost of Rs. 1.3 lakhper ha.”xiv Image courtesy: DilasaThe murky state of irrigation utilization in Waghadi irrigation system in YavatmalIf we look at Dilasa’s project area in Ghatanji where it introduced phad system of irrigation,there is a medium irrigation project on Waghadi river. The project has a reservoir and a 35.7-kmlong contour canal, which is divided into a number of distributaries. The command area is 6110ha, spread in 17 villages in Yavatmal and Ghatanji tahsils of Yavatmal district. After accountingfor upstream reservation for four minor irrigation projects and local sector minor irrigationtanks, the net yield available at the dam site is 56.594 MCM or 1.999 TMC.
The project started functioning in 1988. The State of Maharashtra had in the Godavari WaterDisputes Tribunal and the agreement in 1975 negotiated for entitlement of the entire yield tillthe Waghadi project site. The project was included in the master plan of the Krishna Godavaribasins prepared by the Committee of Engineers appointed by Government of Maharashtra andis widely projected as a model project in the area. The actual command today stands at just1000 ha (14 per cent of designed command) and is not very high as compared to thesubmergence area. The designed discharge of 200 cusecs at the dam headworks has reduced toa maximum of 80 cusecs now. This is the situation in most structures in the region.In spite of the demands on the reservoir, it is surplus and not scarcity that marks the case ofWaghadi and most other reservoirs in the basin. The water available in the reservoir is sufficientto meet the increasing demand for drinking and irrigation at least in the normal rainfall years.The Table below presents a picture of actual irrigation versus potential created for all thestructures in the Yavatmal Irrigation Circle. Actual irrigation in kharif is 9 percent for the majorproject and in the range of 1-2 percent for medium and minor projects. Irrigation in rabi isaround 30-40 percent of the potential created for all categories of projects. The actualirrigation in hot weather season is in the range of 90 to 210 percent but being less in absoluteterms cannot alter the total utilization which stands at a mere 23.3 percent. Major Medium Total- Total Total Name Lower Goki Waghadi Saikheda Upper Borgaon Medium Minor Pus Pus Year of construction 1971 1988 1988 1972 1990 1991 Irrigation potential constructed Kharif 3786 4602 5316 2025 4906 1839 18688 13361 35835 Rabi 4269 2360 2261 935 2710 795 9061 13874 27204 Hot 1128 118 183 156 1292 0 1749 311 3188 Weather Total 9183 7080 7760 3116 8908 2634 29498 27546 66227 Actual Irrigation (Average of last five years) Kharif 339 0 31 38 237 18 325 148 812 (8.9 %) (0 %) (0.6 %) (1.9 %) (4.8 %) (1 %) (1.7 %) (1.1 %) (2.3 %) Rabi 1544 473 560 798 1134 321 3285 4444 9273 (36 %) (20 %) (25 %) (85 %) (42 %) ((40 %) (36 %) (32 % ) (34 %) Hot 2459 439 487 75 1577 7 2586 301 5346 Weather (218 %) (372 %) (266 %) (48 %) (122 %) (148 %) (97 %) (168 %) Total 4342 912 1078 911 2948 346 6196 4893 15431 (47.3 %) (12.9 %) (13.9 %) (29 %) (33 %) (13.1 %) (21 %) (17.8 %) (23.3 %) Table: Based on data accessed from Irrigation Department, Yavatmal Irrigation Circle, 2006-07Survey conducted by SPWD-Dharamitra (2009) reveals that only 17 to 21 per cent of proposedcommand area in Yavatmal received actual irrigation in case of medium and minor structures.The situation was similar (12 to 33 per cent) for major irrigation systems except Lower Pus whichis a recently constructed project.Hence, construction of big dams does not seem to be a solution for providing irrigation forbetter and stable agriculture. Low cost small irrigation systems like phad in which the rainwateror flowing water in the river is diverted to nearby field by constructing diversion weir andcontour canal are highly appropriate in the area. A study by ARTS, Yavatmal concluded that themaximum irrigation potential of Vidarbha can be 40 per cent if we check all rainwater byconstructing small dams across major rivers of Vidarbha.
Physical and socio-economic characteristics of the project area in YavatmalThe area receives rainfall of 800-1000 mm, the slope of the land is between 5-8 per cent and the soildepth is 10-15 cm. This undulating topography results in soil and water erosion. Canal irrigationamounts to five per cent of the cultivable land and well irrigation to about 1 per cent. The soil in thearea is black cotton and murrum. Low percentage irrigation and given the limitation of canal andgroundwater irrigation, small scale diversion based schemes turn out to be an appropriate optionwith significant potential. The agriculture in the area is rainfed with single crop system and at certainplaces cotton followed by sorghum (jowar) or pigeon pea. Tur and moong are also grown. The areaof cash crop cotton cultivation is fifty per cent of the total cultivable land. Rabi (wheat and pea) 3 Waste land 10 Others 5 Jowar 7 Tur 5 Soyabean 20 Cotton 50 0 10 20 30 40 50“The crop yields from such poor dry land cultivated under rainfed condition are, therefore, quitelow. Application of heavy doses of chemical fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides to hybrid crops offoodgrains and cotton is a common practice for last 3-4 decades and has resulted in increased inputcosts. The cost benefit balance has adversely affected the economy of farming community resultingin farmer’s suicides.” (Dilasa, 2010)The status of agriculture is pathetic as most of the land is undulated, devoid of top soil, has soilwith low water retention capacity and without any facilities of external irrigation. “Lack ofassured irrigation and hard soil in some villages were major natural constraints. Within farming,cotton was the main crop followed by soyabean apart from some other crops covering nominalarea. The normal crop season starts with rainy season in June and ends up to January in rainfedarea and extends up to March in irrigated area.” (Joginder Singh, 20??) Only 5.4 per cent of areaof cultivable land is under irrigation. The runoff from the forests can be used for agriculture.The district is primarily a tribal dominated one and Andh, Gond, Pardhan and Kolam (PTG) arethe main tribal communities followed by the Kunbhi, Mali and Banjara. These communities aredependent for their livelihood on wage labor, agriculture and forestxv based activities. Sixty percent of the people have land holdings ranging from 3-5 acres. According to Dilasa in Yavatmal“the external input cost in agriculture is about Rs. 6,000 and production is about Rs. 10,000 peracre”.Despite the land topography, they follow the conventional cropping pattern growing cotton, tur,pulses and jowar. The area is marked by limited access to technology, low levels of ruralinfrastructure and poor institutional structures. A study by Joginder Singh for SRTT revealed that“lack of irrigation facilities was the greatest constraint farmers faced in the area. Intercroppingof cotton with pulses, particularly pigeon pea and in few cases with soyabean and moong is
being done. The main source of irrigation was wells and ponds from which water was pumpedout with the help of electric pumps or diesel pumps and surface water.”Cotton (kharif crop, June-February) is gradually being replaced by soyabean and pigeon pea (tur)as a substitute and account for 15 per cent and 18 per cent area respectively. Though soyabeanis more profitable than cotton particularly because of the poor prices in cotton it is coming uponly in a limited manner especially because it is more sensitive to water stress. Intercroppingwith crops like tur is more economical for the farmers because it controls pest biologically andminimizes risk of yield variability. Jowar continues to occupy 11 per cent area. Wheat andredgram is grown in rabi season in just two per cent of the area.A baseline study by Dilasa on foodgrain availability in nineteen of its project villages in Yavatmalindicates that just about forty per cent of the farmers have food available for beyond a year andanother thirty per cent have food available for six months while the rest are highly insecure asregards foodgrains. less than 1 wk Grain availability 1 week 1 month 3 months 6 months More than 1 yr 0 10 20 30 40 Graph: Food grain availability statusThis is the context of the project area in Vidarbha wherein diversion based irrigation (DBI)programme has been taken up by the Trust.Programme activitiesGenesis of the Dilasa’s effort on phad irrigation system in DhangarwadiDilasa, a Yavatmal based NGO has been working with ‘Dhangars’, a herding caste who weretraditionally shepherds, cowherds, buffalo keepers, blanket and wool weavers, butchers andfarmers in some villages of Yavatmal district, Vidarbha. Dhangars settled in Mendhla villagearound 30 years ago, their hamlet within the village is called Dhangarwadi. They brought withthemselves knowledge of the ingenious technique of phad irrigation prevalent in north westernMaharashtra.Dilasa observed how the Dhangars could successfully solve the problem of lack of irrigation inthe village. There was a government constructed minor irrigation structure, with a reasonablequantity of seepage that took place through the main body. An enterprising Dhangar used thisadvantageously to tap the seepage from the minor irrigation structure, by constructing anearthen embankment to store water and laid down phad channels to divert water to his field.This farmer levelled his farm and was able to irrigate around nine acres of land throughout theyear.
Dilasa, seeing the pros of the phad system approached the Central India Initiative (CInI) Cell, tohelp replicate the system in the area. The process of introducing phad system in the area wasinitiated in the year 2006. To begin with, two low-cost masonry structures were constructed forwater storage for irrigation purposes and the Dhangars were involved in adapting the design ofthe phad channels along the contours.As a part of the project, other interventions such as providing inputs for water and cropmanagement, particularly cotton, was also provided to the farmers. The results wereencouraging and the irrigated area under phads was increased from 9 acres to 72 acres andassured irrigation provided for both rabi and kharif seasons. A study was undertaken to locatetwenty sites for phad irrigation using engineering survey (more later). This was to serve as aguide and a reference document for other development agencies for scaling up the technology. Crossing structure No.1 – Dhangarwadi phad project; Image courtesy: DilasaApart from Dhangarwadi, CInI Cell supported Dilasa for developing pilot project on developingphad irrigation system in Bhulagad and Chaparda with collaboration of SRTT and the TribalWelfare Department during 2006-2008. The idea of the project was to divert flowing water ofriver or nallas to the field by using gravity and velocity of river or nallah water. This low costirrigation system could be used in kharif crop and to some extent in rabi crop also. According toDilasa, four different models have been constructed and tested at the field level in varioustopographic and community backgrounds (details?).Before the project in 2010-2011 under DBI programme SDTT had supported Dilasa ondevelopment of six phad systems in Ralegaon, Kalamb, Yavatmal, Zari and Ghatanji blocks ofYavatmal. All the villages were tribal dominated (above 58 per cent tribals) and some were fullytribal like Madapur-1.
Image courtesy: DilasaThe method is economical and unlike lift irrigation requires no energy for diverting water to thefield. CInI Cell succinctly makes a case of why DBI –“Enables poor farmers living in difficultterrains to double their incomes by taking the second crop using diverted water flows.Technically such schemes are feasible only in far flung, remote and tribal areas usually facingneglect by the state. Investment is less compared to other source of irrigation. O & M cost isless.”Present status of phad projects developed by Dilasa Year 2006-07 200-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 Number of Phad 02 04 07 14 40 Farmers benefited through 36 75 135 261 713 Phad Irrigated Area (Acre) 107 214 395 789 1400 Note: This includes all phads constructed by DilasaDilasa’s project under DBI programmeThe one year project (March 2010 to 2011) titled “Creation of sustainable livelihood throughconvergence of phad system with government and community” implemented by Dilasa aimed todevelop and replicate a model of low cost irrigation system with support drawn in through aGovernment scheme. Dilasa was to play the role of a support organization with six othergrassroot organizations playing the role of project implementation agency. The technical team ofDilasa was to capacitate the partner NGO for uptake of phad technology. Low external inputagriculture system was to be promoted and people’s institutions developed to manage the phadsystem in a sustainable manner.A total of twenty three phads were revived/ constructed under the DBI programme. The projectenvisaged to create irrigation potential of 951 acres, benefiting 181 households in 23 villages ofYavatmal (Ralegaon, Pandharkawda, Yavatmal, Maregaon & Babulgaon , Butibori, Kinvat,Paratwada blocks), Nagpur, Amrawati and Nanded district. Six of these villages were dominatedby OBC castes while the remaining 18 were tribal dominated. The project was to lead toincreased net returns of Rs. 20,000 annum per family per year.
The components that were a part of the project include: (a) community mobilization (b)infrastructure creation/repair (c) command area development and (d) agriculture support. In thisproject care was taken to revive existing irrigation systems created by the Government insteadof creating new systems. Care was taken to include domestic water provision in the design of thephad systems.Dilasa undertook all works through users organisation (Sinchan Samitis) and project funds wereadvanced to the users’ organisation through a bank account and the payments were actuallymade by them. Peoples’ contribution is also collected by the users’ organisation which managesthe entire work guided by Dilasa team. There is complete transparency and systems are beingbuilt in the users’ organisation to manage and maintain the project once it gets over.Survey of phad systemsPrior to the commencement of the DBI programme in the area, a study was conducted in 2008-2009 by ARTS (a partner NGO of Dilasa) as a part of the Small Grants Programme of SRTTregarding the potential phad irrigation system sites. Twenty phad sites were studied in detailswhile preliminary investigation was done for 151 sites. The study also looked at the prospect ofstrengthening of the Dhangarwadi phad system. The latter involved shaping of the canal,pipeline in crossing phad system, fixing of V-Notch for calculation of irrigation water,construction of two crossing structures, CCT for protection of canal from silting in rainy season,channel gates for better distribution of water to every field and horticulture promotion (wadi).Dilasa has been along with ARTS involved in conducting training dealing with technical aspects ofreservoir survey and design of structure. The idea was to study the hydrological setting of thearea and develop a basic understanding of the diversion possibilities. Image courtesy: DilasaThe method followed by ARTS and Dilasa has been standardized now. Here pre-investigation ofphad irrigation system was followed by the engineering survey. This gives an exact potential ofphad system in terms of agriculture area covered under phad irrigation as well as possible phadirrigation sites. This includes conducting (i) topographical survey and its analysis (ii) preparingthe L-section of canal alignment (iii) determining the possible agriculture area covered underphad irrigation and (iv) finding out the present cropping pattern of existing in the area.
Image courtesy: DilasaThe survey was done in five tribal blocks of Yavatmal – Pandharkawda, Zari-Zamani, Ralegaon,Kalamb and Maregaon. The methodology adopted for the survey comprised of a visit by ARTSteam to 151 percolation tanks constructed by the Government for finding out probable phadsites. The survey revealed that the efficiency of utilisation of water is poor; the actual irrigationunder these tanks is only one per cent of the proposed irrigation.Out of these twenty possible sites were identified during the preliminary survey. These siteswere finalised considering the seepage water from tanks or river situated below command areaof major/medium/minor irrigation project. Many good locations were available on perennialriver or nallahs from forest area which could provide irrigation through phad system.These conditions make for a very promising situation for scaling of phad systems at everylocation in the district and in other districts of eastern Vidarbha which have ample rainfall. Byutilizing phad irrigation system at every percolation tank, the irrigation area can be increased to70 per cent of proposed irrigation area. ARTS conducted topographic survey of 51 such locationsand data analysis showed that 1550 acres of dry land agriculture can be brought underprotective irrigation. The average cost is Rs.12,000 to 15,000 per ha as compared toconventional system in which the cost is Rs.1,75,000 to Rs.2,00,000 per ha. Image courtesy: Dilasa
Development of phad irrigation systemTo begin with an intricate network of both lined and partially lined canals were used for river/stream diversion. Sites were selected in a manner that the major constructions (head work) havecome from the government while Dilasa worked on the canal system (open channel – lined orunlined). At times the government head work (weir) had to be strengthened or its heightincreased. Dilasa took care to take permission from the panchayat as well as the Government(respective Departments). In general, perennial streams running along the slopes have beenexpertly harnessed to irrigate command areas below. In case of percolation tanks a small inletstructure for storage was built usually below 25 m of the main structure to adhere to thegovernment notification. From that point onwards pipe system was laid till the farmers fields.Community participation was restricted to the beneficiaries who managed the main canal andsub-canals that traverse their plots. This involved underground laying of pipes at times on thefields of those farmers who were not going to be benefitted. Conflicts that emerged as a resultwere settled by Dilasa; at times the affected farmer was offered gram panchayat land below orwas offered some produce in kind (season-wise) as compensation. Image courtesy: DilasaBefore long, Dilasa realized the need to shift to pipe based diversion system to reduce losses.They have been constructed without intermediary storages. Intermediate storages (small tanks)have been suggested by Livolink Foundation recently to maximize the efficiency of the system.Dilasa has attempted to standardize the technology and upscale it; the recent support from AxisBank Foundation to construct 200 phad systems is a part of this effort. Image courtesy: Dilasa
Some of the aspects related to technical design that have been incorporated in the project are -o At places such as Dhangarwadi there was a crossing of road in the route of main canal of phad system. This led to damages in the main canal every year which in turn led to leakage of water. There was a need to repair this every year. The rainwater from upper catchment directly went into the main canal leading to siltation of canal. In order to overcome above problem Dilasa constructed several crossing structures with cement pipe culvert.o Nalla crossing structures have been constructed in the project intervention. The structure is built with rubble masonry in 1:6 mortar and 12 inch cement pipe installed as per contour level. This intervention was beneficial as it led to stability of the structure.o Under the programme continuous contour trenches (CCTs) have been built. The channel field of both structures that carry water to the field has been restructured. The shape of both canals has been converted to trapezoidal to improve the stability of the canal. This is being sustained regularly with low cost of maintenance. The rainwater from upper catchment flows directly into the canal so CCTs have been constructed to avoid siltation of canal by passing from the crossing structure from rainwater every year.o At some places V notches have been installed in structures to calculate the quantity of water flowing through the channel. This helped in distributing the water in an equitable manner and helped the WUA plan for crops as per availability of water.o At places channel gates have been constructed and water from the main channel diverted to the field by farmers for irrigating their crops. The farmers are divided into four groups and in each group there is 30 acres of irrigated land. The water from main channel is diverted to this group by providing channel gates so that water flow through this channel can be controlled and wastage of water minimized. Providing channel gates helped in (i) controlling the flow of channel as per requirement of farmer (ii) regulating the water distribution to the group of farmers (iii) reduction in seepage loss from the main channel.
Case Study of Ganpat Nagoji Atram, Mahadapur*Dorabji Tata Trust chi madat milali dari,Ganpat cha vikas Phad sinchanane zala bhariMahadapur is a small backward tribal village situated on a hill top in Zari block of Yavatmaldistrict. The village is around 18 km away from the block headquarter and 90 km away fromYavatmal, the district headquarters. All the households in the village rely on rainfedagriculture and wage labour for their livelihoods.Shri Ganpat Nagoji Atram (35), a farmer from Mahadapur belonging to Kolam, a PTG tribe hasa family of five - his wife, 2 sons and a daughter. Ganpat has 5 acres of rain-fed agriculturalland, on which he has been doing traditional farming of cotton, pigeon-pea and sorghumsince long. He used to grow 4 acres of cotton with intercropping of pigeon-pea and one acreof sorghum.He was getting a production of 8 to 10 quintals of cotton valued at Rs. 15000 to 18000, 5 to 6quintals of pigeon-pea valued at Rs. 10000 to 12000 and 3 quintals of sorghum valued at Rs.3000. In all, he got Rs 28000 to 30000 per year averaging to Rs. 5000-6000 thousand per acre.This income was not sufficient to meet his family need of input cost, family expenses andeducation of his children. This was the situation up to the year 2009 till the introduction ofphad irrigation system in the village.In 2010, Dilasa promoted phad irrigation system in Mahadapur village and Ganpat Atram wasone of the beneficiaries of the technology. Under this irrigation system, a small check damhas been built up through which the diversion based irrigation is being carried under gravitywithout use of power (oil engine/electricity).Ganpat benefited greatly through this system and irrigated his one acre of cotton and pigeon-pea crop in kharif season. This year, he took production of 5 quintals of cotton and 3.5quintals of pigeon-pea crop valued at Rs. 25000 and Rs. 15000 respectively amounting to atotal of Rs. 40000 from one acre of land. His production per acre has been enhanced to 1 to1.5 quintals per acre and the income has increased almost 6 to 7. SN Crops grown Crop production by adoption of Phad irrigation Increased production per acre Total Rs. 1 Cotton 3 15000 2 Pigeon-pea 2 7000 3 Jawar 2 3000 4 Red gram 2.12 5300 5 Fodder 3.00 3000 Total 12.12 33300He is now able to cultivate this one acre of land under rabi crop of red gram owing toavailability of water. He used to give 3 turns of water to his red-gram crop and got aproduction of 2.12 quintals from his one acre of land which fetched him an income of Rs.5300.Thus, Ganpat has increased his crop production up to 1.5 times since the adoption of phadirrigation. He is now satisfied with his agricultural income and realizes the need to reach thisirrigation system to more and more farmers for sustaining their livelihood.Adapted from a case by Dilasa
Innovation: Introduction of Bodi phad by DilasaDilasa has more recently worked on the system of bodi phad in which rainwater isarrested and stored in a bodi and thereafter diverted to the farms to enable farmers tocarry out protective irrigation for their crops. The farmers use the bodi water or thewater from tanks especially in the dry spells in the months of July, August andSeptember. Generally, the farmers use this water by breaking the bodis or making a holeat the middle of the tank embankment. This damages the bodis or tanks, and thebreakage has to be repaired every year to restore the water storage capacity.Paddy constitutes more than eighty per cent of the total cultivable land in Gadchiroli,Chandrapur, Gondia and Bhandara districts in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. There are oldmalgujari talav’s constructed in ancient times in these districts for irrigation purposes.Government has also constructed several tanks and bodis in this area. The irrigation of paddycrop is being carried out through these tanks and bodis. Dilasa during field visits in the areaat Bhamaragad saw bodis constructed at the upper side of the paddy farms, meant forpercolation of water for paddy crops. This attracted the attention of Dilasa and the new ideaof bodi phad emerged. But the question was of how to implement the idea?Dilasa studied the situation and found a suitable way out. Awareness of farmers is the mostimportant work in this regard; the farmers are encouraged to keep the structures intact. Inletand outlet of PVC pipes to these structures have been introduced (with cocks especially in theoutlet). This is helping in keeping the structure intact and in arresting the rainwater that fallsthroughout the year. Dilasa has named this scheme as “bodi phad”. The work is presentlybeing done in eastern Vidarbha with support from Axis Bank Foundation Mumbai, CaringFriends Mumbai and Arpan Foundation.Adapted from a case by Dilasa Image courtesy: Dilasa
Comparative data of two farmers who have increased their crop production after phadirrigationShri. Maroti MarekarS Crops grown Area in Yield in qt Before irrigation Yield in qt ThroughN acre (2009-10) in Rs. irrigation (2010-11) in Rs.1 Cotton 2 7 28000 13.4 675002 Pigeon-pea Mixed 3 10500 5 200003 Soybean 1 4 8000 6 122004 Wheat 1 7 98005 Vegetables 0.5 Lump sum 65006 Fodder 1 Lump sum 3000 Lump sum 5000 Total 49500 121000Shri. Vitthal Ramaji Rathod1 Cotton 5 10 40000 15 650002 Wheat 5 75003 Gram 50 kg 1500 Total 40000 74500Shri .Maroti a farmer from village Waghapur, Yavatmal has got an extra production of Rs. 71,500 afterconversion of dryland in to phad irrigation.Shri. Vitthal Ramji Rathod of village Khairgaon, Yavatmal has got an extra income of Rs.34,500 afterirrigation.Advocacy, research and capacity buildingAdvocacy was undertaken for inclusion of diversion based irrigation method in governmentpolicy and programme. The idea was to undertake scaling up the successful interventions tomake dent on policy environment/policy changes through advocacy and mobilization process. Asa part of this, awareness was promoted and village development plans prepared according toexisting natural resource development and management to sustain livelihood. Phad water userassociations were strengthened and water management plan was developed for domesticanimal, drinking purpose and irrigation by studying the available water sources.Vidarbha phad networkA Vidarbha region phad network was created for the purpose of awareness on water policy andwater management. It was also to extend technical information of phad schemes to otherpartners. It will advocate for legal authority for dam seepage water use apart from lobbying forgetting legal approval for the scheme as well as to include it in the list of Government schemeslike MNREGS.A convention for attracting the attention of Government towards PHADA convention was organized at Dilasa at Ghatanji on 13th June, 2010 for generation of awarenessamong farmers on phad sinchan. This convention was mainly organized to introduce the phadsystems among the farmers. This also served as an occasion to lobby with the Minister of SocialJustice & Empowerment, Maharashtra State, for attracting the attention of the Government ofMaharashtra towards this irrigation method.
Image courtesy: DilasaIn order to publicize and reach this programme to the masses on large scale, there is a need toconvert this programme into a Government Resolution (GR). Honorable Shri Advocate ShivajiraoMoghe, the Social Justice & Empowerment Minister of Maharashtra State was present in thisconvention as the Chief Guest. The Minister had assured to look into the matter of GR whiledelivering his speech before a mob of around 200 farmers from Ghatanji block. A delegation ofthat nature has been handed over to the Minister to take up the matter to the LegislativeAssembly.Phad sinchan melaTwo phad sinchan mela’s were organized at Godhani Village. One of the mela’s was attended byShri. Vasantrao Purke, the Former Minister of Education, Maharashtra while Shri M N Khadase(Mati Baba), Member, Soil and Water Conservation Committee, Maharashtra was present asChief Guest in the other mela. Image courtesy: Dilasa
Invitation from Minister of Water Resources for a presentation on phad irrigationShri. Ajit Dada Pawar, the Minister for Water Resources, Maharashtra had invited Dilasa toMumbai on 30th June, 2010 for delivering a presentation on phad Irrigation. At this occasion adelegation was handed over to him on behalf of OXFAM India Trust by Shri. Madhukar Dhas,Director, Dilasa and Shri. Amol Sakharkar, Technical Expert, Dilasa. The phad system wasexplained in detail to Shri. Patil, the Secretary of the Ministry. A file containing completeinformation about phad system has been handed over to the Secretary, who assured to take thismatter in the Assembly. He expressed that, this is a very useful technology for irrigating the landof small and marginal farmers and also extended his best wishes to the scheme. One file wasalso given to the Minister of Agriculture, Maharashtra.ConclusionPhad system has showed its promise in Vidarbha in the condition of medium rainfall, lowirrigation potential through mainstream surface and groundwater systems, and has been able tomitigate the risk of crop failure and yield reduction substantially. Technically, the systemprovides demonstration on pipe based diversion using post monsoon flows, which incombination with open channel irrigation is worth considering for adoption in the medium/minor irrigation systems (like Waghadi) for increasing the system efficiency. The state needs toconsider the inclusion of development of diversion based systems like phads as one of theactivities in MNREGS programme and amend the norms to facilitate farmers groups to takethese up. An enabling Government Resolution will help Dilasa and other groups to influencepanchayats to take up such activities in their works.
AppendixAccording to the study by Joginder Singh, the cost-return analysis of cotton crop in Yavatmal,Vidarbha indicated that the farmer has to incur about Rs. 4800/acre in Savarkheda and 6900/acre inZari cluster and thus netting a profit margin of Rs. 2600/acre and Rs. 7000/acre respectively. Apartfrom this, about Rs. 2200/acre is additional gain from pigeon pea which is intercropped as one totwo rows after 8 rows of cotton. It is also realized that soybean being leguminous crop can be sownevery alternative year with cotton crop to keep the soil fertile. Table: Economics of cotton crop in Vidarbha region, 2007-08 (Rs/acre) Item Savarkheda Per cent Zari Per cent Overall Per cent Ploughing (Nangaran) 364 6.85 285 3.84 325 5.09 Hollowing (Wakharan) 247 4.65 191 2.57 219 3.44 Dharwadan 107 2.01 74 1.00 91 1.42 Sowing cost 105 1.98 113 1.52 109 1.71 Seed 875 16.47 760 10.23 818 12.83 Irrigation 24 0.45 51 0.69 38 0.59 Hoeing (Dawaran) 823 15.49 566 7.62 695 10.90 Weed control 500 9.41 535 7.20 518 8.12 Plant Protection 485 9.13 613 8.25 549 8.62 Fertilizer use 775 14.59 1415 19.05 1095 17.19 Picking 797 15.00 1722 23.18 1260 19.77 Transportation 211 3.97 1103 14.85 657 10.31 Total expenses 5313 100.00 7428 100.00 6371 100.00 Average yield (qt/acre) 3.42 6.10 4.76 Price (Rs/qt) 2172 2280 2226 Gross return (Rs/acre) 7428 13908 10668 Net return (Rs/acre) 2115 6480 4297 Source: Baseline survey for technology improvement of cotton crop in Vidarbha region in kharif 2007 as part of ‘Central India Initiative’ Additional cost and return from Pigeon pea as intercrop Item Overall (Rs) Seed (Rs/acre) 200 Harvesting (Rs/acre) 100 Total (Rs/acre) 300 Average yield (qt) 1.0 Av. Price (Rs/q) 2500 Net return (Rs/acre) 2200 Source: Baseline survey for technology improvement of cotton crop in Vidarbha region in kharif 2007 as part of ‘Central India Initiative’
Endnotes and referencesi The document has been put together by Amita Bhaduri, Society for Promotion of WastelandsDevelopment (SPWD) based on field work by her and Sanjay Kumar Ray, Livolink Foundation. The villagesvisited include Dhangarwadi, Chichghat, Lawhana, Ichora, Shivani, Pidha, Waghapur and Pidha in Yavatmaldistrict. Documents of Dilasa and an earlier study by SPWD and Dharamitra on Painganga river basinespecially Waghadi sub-basin have been used for developing the document.ii Deep Joshi, Diversion Based Irrigation (DBI) Programme: A Review, Jamsetji Tata Trust, 2011iii Dilasa was set up in 1994 by a group of young enthusiastic social activists with encouragement fromVanchit Vikas, AFPRO Ahmednagar, Dharamitra Wardha who continue to provide technical support tilldate. The NGO is active in Ghatanji and Pusad area taluka of Yavatmal and works towards the holisticdevelopment of the downtrodden and deprived sections of the society- tribal, scheduled castes, nomadictribes, exploited women and children- through project areas that cover watershed and irrigationdevelopment, women’s empowerment, agricultural research and support networks for farmers andchildren. Dilasa has been implementing the use of innovative irrigation techniques to enhance farmproductivity & also to ensure the creation of sustainable livelihoods by way of integrating communitycooperation and management. Its work area is spread over districts Yavatmal, Chandrapur ,Wardha andAmravati in Maharashtra, covering over 216 village.iv Some of the traditional irrigation systems specific to Maharashtra are Issar , Reda Pakhal, Mott,Rahatgadge, Malgujari Talao, Shivkalin Talao, Phad Sinchan, Earthen pots, Pahura, Pavanchakki (windmill), river flow contour irrigation and Bhal Kathode system.phad irrigation was among the above systems, which has been still kept alive by the Tribals and Dhangarcommunity people. Maharashtra is the state where rainfall ranges from 300 to 3000 mm. per year.v The river Panjhra originating in the Sahyadri ranges has steep gradient and flows through rocky beds, atopographical feature conducive to construction of diversion weirs. It receivesvi Patil, R. K. 1996. Phad system of western Maharashtra: a trail method of water harvesting andmanagement by farmers. In Traditional water harvesting systems: an ecological economic survey, B. C.Barah (ed). New Age International Publishers.vii The main command area was locally known as bagayat/ thal or the assured area of irrigation system andsimilarly there was also an extended area known as jirayat, or the unassured area. The jirayat landreceived water only in years of plentiful water flow at the Panjhra River. This land had no regulation incropping pattern or water distribution. Each farmer practiced individual cropping pattern and was notrelated to the phad system.viii It was administered by the Nizam of Hyderabad until 1853 following which it was under direct Britishcontrol. It was added to the Central Provinces in 1903.ix A unit larger than a village.x Opinion / News Analysis: Maharashtra: ‘Graveyard of farmers’". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 14November 2007. Retrieved 2012-04-22xi Ajit Kumar, Maharashtra Statehood for Vidarbha, EPW, 2001xii Planning Commission’s Report of the Fact-Finding Team on Vidarbha.xiii Sanjiv Phansalkar, Understanding underdevelopment in Vidarbha, IWMI Tata Water Policy Program,Research Paper, 2002xiv Aparna Pallavi, Down to Earth, 20??xv Thirty four per cent area of the district is under forests.