The project was initiated in December 2005 and
is supported by UNDP-GEF/CEE Small Grants
Programme under the thematic area of Land
Degradation/ Development in three villages and
by NABARD under the NABARD WDF
programme for watershed development in
another three villages. Presently the Capacity
Building Phase of the project is underway in the
villages supported through NABARD funding
The River Mahi originates in Southern Rajasthan passes through Panchmahals, Baroda, Kheda and Anand districts and drains into the Arabian Sea at the Gulf of Cambay. A preliminary survey reveals that upto 70-80 thousand hectares of land in 107 villages from Vanakbori to Dhuvaran (situated along the banks) along the banks of River Mahi have been severely ravined. This area, characterized by undulating topography, loose and sandy-to-sandy loam soil type and the absence of vegetative cover makes it vulnerable to formation of deep and continuous ravines ranging from ten to seventy feet in depth. The ravines originating near the river make inroads into the nearby lands with every monsoon.
The extensive floods that stuck Gujarat in July 2005 caused massive soil erosion and have further aggravated the degradation of the agricultural lands as well as common lands along Mahi River. The lack of proper management and maintenance of drainage lines in both common and private lands forced a large quantity of water to flow in an irregular manner leading to formation of new drainage lines causing massive erosion resulting in the formation of ravines and gullies.
The traditional inter- and intra-village connecting roads earlier situated at a lower level than farm lands served as natural drainage of excess water. However, the construction of metal roads at a higher elevation from habitations and farmlands (without allowing for proper drainage) has altered the drainage system. The massive erosion of soil has severely affected those with less than one hectare of land, with the floods having not only washed away sections of their farmland but have also rendered the plots uncultivable in many instances. The per capita land holding in this area is small and farms are fragmented and most of the families are marginal and small farmers. This loss leaves the small landholders with little choice than to leave their land fallow with the absence of resources to repair such a scale of destruction, which in effect would lead to further erosion with subsequent rains affecting other farmers in the upstream of such ravines. The massive soil erosion in the farmlands and common lands all along the Mahi riverbank remains an issue that is quite crucial for the livelihoods of those affected and has an adverse effect on the local economy. The floods have further aggravated the condition and it requires sustained work over a long period and huge investments for a recovery to take place.
The objective of the project is to check further spread of ravines to prevent damage to the valuable tablelands and to work towards the restoration and stabilization of highly degraded and ravined lands along River Mahi.
The specific objectives of the proposed project are:
- Improving the vegetative cover on common lands and checking soil erosion through appropriate soil and water conservation measures and to utilize the ravine lands for productive purposes of grassland development, afforestation etc.
- Strengthening institutional mechanisms and tenure arrangements over common lands that would improve the governance of natural resources and stabilization of the ravine lands, and
- To improve the socio-economic status and strengthening/stabilizing the livelihoods of small and marginal farmers by improving the degraded private lands and agricultural lands.