Barmer, 21 July 2020.
Barmer lies in the desert region of our country which faces high temperatures due owing to arid Thar Desert and sandy soil. The temperature in summers rises up to 51°C and falls near to 0 °C in winter. This leads to water scarcity in the region where ground water is saline and not suitable for drinking, farming and other purposes. The villages in the district rely on rainfall (of ~277mm water a year) and rainwater harvesting for yearlong supply for clean water.
Given this scenario, Cairn Oil & Gas, Vedanta Ltd., the largest private oil and gas exploration and production company in India, is bringing hope to the dry region of Barmer district of Rajasthan through its water conservation and harvesting projects. Ahead of the monsoon, these projects will provide clean water in ~95 villages and 5 tehsils namely, Barmer, Baytu, Sheo, Gudamalani and Sanchore.
With the help of these projects, Cairn has blessed the people and wildlife of Barmer district with the availability of clean water. Apart from the yearlong availability of water, these projects have also been able to conserve tons of soil, increase in the crop sown area and production of 373 tons of fruits.
Talking about these projects, Harmeet Sehra, Head CSR, Cairn Oil & Gas, said, Cairn’s interventions on water and moisture conservation, common property resources, afforestation and driving lab to land agricultural innovations, are aimed at creating ‘water positive’ gram panchayats around our asset area. With an average annual rainfall of just 277 mm, these projects ensure year round availability of drinking water to over 10,000 families and countless animals. This adds to policy of zero harm policy as we shall continue to strive further and do more for the communities in Rajasthan.”
Below is a snapshot of the projects run by Cairn Oil & Gas in the region:
Soil and Moisture Conservation – Khadin
With an objective to optimize the usage of rainwater and reduce dependency on cost bearing sources of drinking water, the project supported the construction of Khadin structures, an earthen embankment built on a gradient, designed to harvest surface runoff water for water saturated agriculture and ground water recharge. It has benefitted ~ 780 individuals and more than 800 farmers and their family. Under this project, the company harvests ~ 1,414,547 m3 water every year. It also assists in conserving 54,495 tons of soil every year which resulted in the increase of the crop sown area from 831 ha to 1380 ha.
Today, the region grows both Rabi and Kharif crops, which has led to an addition saving of INR 6,132,000, while the project annually generates INR 11,100,000.
Renovation of traditional water harvesting structures – Nadi
Cairn Oil & Gas commenced the natural resource management project by using traditional wisdom on catchment characteristics along with modern scientific engineering. This was done to renovate historically existing zones which have dried up owing to vast quantities of silt deposits accumulated over the years.
Today, the project is providing 20,000 families with clean drinking water through the renovation of 25 Nadis and harvesting ~ 1,700,000 m3 rainwater basis average rainfall. This in turn is reducing the cost for water by INR 17 cr. and also supporting 60 other villages by providing them drinking water throughout the year. Not only this, the project has led to the return of migratory birds in the region as well.
Gravity based Drip Irrigation in Agri-Horti Units – Wadi
With an aim to promote horticulture farming in arid zone through minimum use of water, Cairn started developing the Wadis across Western Rajasthan in 2013 as a part of its Unnati project. The units are spread across an area of 0.4 ha and roughly have a plantation of 80-100 saplings. The process for developing these units was time consuming. The company used a contributory model to further these units and deployed a 70:30 sharing model where in Cairn provides the majority implements required such as saplings, fencing, gravity drip irrigation system, micronutrients while the farmer provides his land, labour, posts for erecting the fence and an overhead tank. This model was designed deliberately to instill a sense of ownership and sustainability.
In a region which never saw horticultural activity, convincing the farmers was initially difficult. However, with adequate perseverance, hand-holding, capacity building, technical guidance, market linkages and use of advanced management practices, Cairn today has been able to establish 1214 Wadis with over 75,000 saplings and currently witnesses an annual production of 373 tons of fruit valued at over INR 1.32 Cr. The use of drip based irrigation has been able to reduce utilization of water from 10.5 ltrs per pay per plant to a mere 2.1 liters. This has helped develop these Wadis while reducing the water utilization at an aggregated 70.48 cr liters.
One of the beneficiaries of the projects, Mehrab Khan, said “Cairn has constructured ~350 khadins, 150 wadis and 8 nadis in Bhadkha and Bothiya village. Khadin supported lots of farming activities during the lockdown and ensured regular earning for the farmers. The water reserved in nadis supported the wildlife as people were unable to feed them. Cairn has been supporting the villages here since more than 7 years and I am grateful for all their efforts and good work.”
“Cairn’s Nadi project in Bothiya Jageer provided drinking water to the community and wildlife. The company also sanitized the village due to COVID-19 and we would like to appreciate their efforts,” said a village leader and beneficiary, Ram Singh.