Jharkhand is known to have a number of small rivers, rivulets, and streams that help in the growth of a variety of crops. Despite having an abundance of water bodies, farmers in Jharkhand only managed to grow Kharif crops and suffer from a low irrigation efficiency.
All of this changed in 2019, when the district administration in association with an NGO, Sewa Welfare Society, took the initiative to construct 'Bori Bandhs', which are low-cost check dams. These dams would help retain the water for irrigation and are made by filling sand and soil in cement bags.
These 'filled' bags are then kept one atop of the other to prevent the water from flowing in the local rivulets. By doing this, a sufficient amount of water is saved throughout the year for irrigation and the water levels in the wells are also maintained.
Various crops like paddy, wheat, mustard, sweetcorn, and watermelon have begun to flourish in the fields with the help of 'Bori Bandhs'. This project has transformed the lives of close to 8,000 farmers in more than 70 villages under Arki, Murhu, Khunti, Torpa, and Karra blocks of the Khunti district. It not only addresses the region's water distress but has also helped in the significant increase in the water table.
According to Khunti deputy commissioner Shashi Ranjan, farmers in the region had to resort to mono-cropping, despite extremely fertile and sufficient rainfall in the region, as there is a problem of run-off in this plateau region which has led to low amounts of irrigation efficiency.
"The concept is really a game-changer for the rural economy as it has multiple benefits. Bori bandhs, besides being cost-effective, have succeeded in helping water conservation and bringing up the water table, which is also an environment-friendly. They are more effective than the pucca check dam structures, which are raised spending several lakhs of rupees but after a certain period, get washed away by heavy rains," said Ranjan, as reported by The New Indian Express.
Ajay Sharma, the President of Sewa Welfare Society claims that besides benefitting thousands of people, the 'Bori Bandh' project has helped in bringing social harmony to the region.
The project has also received an award of excellence from the Union Jal Shakti Ministry. The award was received under the participatory water management category at the National Water Innovation Summit of 2020.