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Story of How a Check Dam revived the Paddy fields of Chovoorthazham

28 Nov 2019

Introduction

Cherpu BP, which consists of Cherpu, Avinissery, Paralam and Valachira GPs, is located in Thrissur District. The farmers in these GPs undertake paddy cultivation. With groundwater being the main source of irrigation, the water becomes scarce during the summer season. Chovoorthazham, an area formed by portions of Avinissery, Cherpu and Paralam, is a boundary of the Chanam paddy field. Earlier, paddy cultivation was done with the support of temporary bunds.

However, the water level began to rise in the main canals due to lack of permanent bunds, and farming activity in the area stopped. Consequently, the agricultural land was turned into fallow land. In the Gram Sabha meeting, the paddy farmers proposed the construction of a check dam. Then the Gram Sabha approved the same. The irrigation department identified the spot for the construction of check dam so that the water is made accessible to three GPs.

Implementation

A brushwood check dam was constructed in the year 2018–2019 at a total cost of Rs. 0.45 lakh, of which the villagers contributed Rs. 0.28 lakh. The main canal in Chovoorthazham of Cherpu GP was desilted to increase the water holding capacity of the check dam. The soil thus obtained was filled in the gunny bags and utilized in the construction of the check dam. Materials like bamboo poles and palm leaves required for the construction were collected from the nearby area. A pump set was installed near the check dam by the paddy farming groups who regulate the flow of water to three
panchayats. Regulating valves were placed to ensure a perennial flow of water in the canals.

Impact

After the construction of the check dam, farming activities have been revived in nearly 80 acres of fallow land belonging to 60 households, which has resulted in the production of 50 tonnes of paddy. The combined effort of BP, GPs, paddy farming groups and other departments paved the way for the cultivation of agricultural fields, which remained unused for the past 25 years. The harvested paddy is marketed at the rate of Rs. 25 per kg. Thus, they have generated a total income of Rs. 12.5 lakhs. This implies that from a small fund of Rs. 16,342 allocated for a check dam construction, the farmers were able to make an income of Rs. 1.2 crores as returns.

Voice

“I am cultivating paddy in about 10 acres of land, out of which 8.5 acres is leased land. Before the construction of the check dam, I could not cultivate this land. Now, I am getting plenty of water and I could produce 4 tonnes of paddy from the 10-acre land”. —Bharathan, Beneficiary Farmer, Chovoorthazham

“I cultivated paddy in 112 cents of land. For the last few years, there was no cultivation in Chovoorthazham area due to lack of irrigation facilities. After the construction of the check dam, water is available for farming. There is a significant change in water quality. Compared to last year, the water level in the wells of our locality has increased after the construction of the check dam”. —Sulochana, Beneficiary Farmer & MGNREGS Worker

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