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Watershed Voices - Kaluchi Thakarwadi

Watershed Voices - Kaluchi Thakarwadi

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Published by Radhika Murthy
Stories from the field- WOTR's Watershed Development Program in Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra

Written by Radhika Murthy
Stories from the field- WOTR's Watershed Development Program in Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra

Written by Radhika Murthy

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Published by: Radhika Murthy on Jul 09, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Long Winding Road
Our steed from Ahmednagar was a black fur-seatedmotorbike, which WOTR staff, Santosh Chaudhari and Idrove for more than an hour to Kaluchi Thakarwadi.No government official had ever bothered to visit thisremote settlement in Parner block of Ahmednagar. Howcould they? There was no road.“Only trained people can reach there,” says Santosh. Hetells me that barely 3 years ago, this was but a windingfoot trail, trod only by 3 kinds of ‘trained’ travellers: One,people from far flung settlements like Kaluchi Thakarwadiwalking all the way to medical help or other urgent workin the town; Two, shepherds and their cattle- sheep, goatsand a few cows; and Three, WOTR- Wasundhara projectstaff like him, who had been driving to the Thakarwadi ontheir motorbikes regularly and precariously since 2006.As we left the noisy town of Ahmednagar, I couldsee signs of a struggle going on. Sudden glimpses ofbrown and yellow flashed behind and between semi-urban buildings and clumps of forest departmentplanted ‘forests’. As we turned off the highway at thevillage of Bhalawni, the
finally won over humanconstruction.The
- Maharashtra’s semi-arid grasslandtriumphantly stretched on for the next 10 kilometres.Not a single house or farm, barely a tree, just exposedbrown, black and grey rock and yellow grass, undulatinginto the horizon, on either side of the road. The
,beautiful and eerie in its apparent lifelessness, is in facthome to a variety of birds all the year round and tothe
community in the monsoons. This vibrant,nomadic, shepherd community of Maharashtra, returnfrom the plains with the monsoons to the
, when
the yellow grass turns green- perfect grazinggrounds for their sheep and goats. At thistime, in January, we could only see signs oftheir seasonal settlements- abandoned stoneenclosures, awaiting animals and small stonetemples, awaiting worship.While driving, Santosh told me his story.Dhavalpuri’s VWC (Village, WatershedCommittee) formed under the IGWDP (IndoGerman Watershed Development Program)went on to become SHWVAS- ShreeHanuman Watershed Vikas Sanstha, an NGOworking in Watershed Development. Santoshhad been a member of the VWC right fromhis student days. Though a Masters inHistory, Santosh became a Watershed manand was part of the core team of SHWVAS.When they were contacted by the GramPanchayat of Kaluchi Thakarwadi, SHWVASteamed up with WOTR to implement theWOTR Wasundhara program there.After passing Dhavalpuri and Santosh’s ownjowar fields, we reached the black bed ofthe Kalu river, from which this settlementgets its name. Of course there would be nowater in the river now, I assumed. But tomy astonishment, the river flowed happilyover a neat little check dam. This checkdam is a low-cost one, costing only aroundRs. 1.5 lakh. It has been made without afoundation; iron rods inserted into theconcrete at intervals of 1 m in a zigzagfashion hold it together. Small pumpsattached to pipelines wind their way acrossthe rock directly to parched fields andprovide irrigation that enables a 2
, even a3
crop a year, where under 5 years back,barely 1 crop had been possible.The new road brought connectivity andthe check dam brought water, both crucialtothe current development of this Thakar adivasi settlement on the banks of theKalu river.

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