Villagers of Wagad are thrilled that their water association has won them the state award for managing the Meru Ling Kalva water body. Their effort of 10 years for effective water management has been acknowledged as a successful role model by the Maharashtra government.
The Wagad dam has the capacity of irrigating up to 11,051 hectares of land. Till early 2000, the government used to earn Rs1-Rs1.5 lakh annually as revenue for water utilisation. Moreover, farmers would earn just Rs2,500-Rs2,700 per hectare for eight months of farming.
Today, the scenario has changed drastically. There is a Wagad dam water utility association which covers 24 associations. “Our leader Bapu Updahyay believed that beneficiaries should be involved in management of the water they use,” said Bharat Kawle of Samaj Parivartan Kendra. “The dam has water for only eight months. We first formed our cooperative water utility associations and later the government surveyed the land, measured water levels and along with our utility associations, signed a Memorandum of Understanding,” Kawle said.
Today, the results are there for all to see. The student dropout rate has decreased, the total earnings of each family has increased, crop patterns and quality of crops has improved and the standard of living of farmers has improved. Moreover, the revenue of the state from Wagad dam has increased manifold.
“Today we are proud to say the government is earning Rs1,75,000 annual revenue since we began managing the irrigation system. Of the total area for cultivation of only 9,760 hectares, farmers would grow grass for fodder across 4,500 hectares. Today, we have grapes across 4,800 hectares and on the remaining we grow tomatoes and other crops. The earnings of farmers has increased from Rs2,500-Rs2,700 per hectare, to Rs1 lakh to Rs1.5 lakh per hectare annually,” Kawle said.