Faced with govt apathy, Maharashtra farmer sells land to build dam
MUMBAI: A 42-year-old farmer from a small village in Maharashtra’s Akola district has sold a large chunk of his farmland to build a dam for himself and farmers of his village after he got no aid from the state government.
Sanjay Tidke, who along with his brother, owned 30 acres in Sangvi Durgwada village in Murtizapur taluka, sold 10 acres for Rs 55 lakh and is using Rs 20 lakh to build a dam which has a water storage capacity of 3 crore litres. Tidke says he sold off the part of his farmland that would always get washed off during the rains.
“A canal flows through my farm and since there was no dam to block water, every monsoon a large portion of my farm would get washed off, causing huge losses. I have repeatedly asked the government for assistance to build a dam to stop water from coming into my farm, but there has been no response and so I decided to do something myself,” said Tidke, who grows soyabean and cotton in his fields. This dam is called a cement nullah bund in technical parlance.
The state government has announced several schemes for water conservation, but their implementation has been questioned by experts. Many of the schemes don’t even cover a fraction of the cost of the project, leaving the farmer to bear the rest; there have also been complaints of delays in approving projects.
Officials of the district agriculture department helped Tidke with expertise on how and which type of dam to construct. But other officials began harassing him over the sand he was using for the project and filed complaints against him for allegedly buying sand illegally. The construction of the dam started in March and after completion in the next 2 weeks it will be ready to hold water from this monsoon.
“On one hand the Maharashtra government is spending crores of rupees to undertake water conservation projects, and on the other hand when a farmer is spending money from his own pocket to do something for the village, the government officials still create problems,” said Tidke.
After word spread about the dam being constructed, many farmer groups started visiting the site and helped him deal with the issues that government officials would raise. The site has become very popular with farmers and government officials visiting it almost every day .
“It’s a one-of-its-kind project. Not only Tidke, but the entire village will benefit from the project. Farmers will be able to grow a second crop using the water in the dam,”said Santosh Gawai, member of a farmers’ group from the neighbouring taluka.