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Arvari River

Arvari is a small river in the Alwar District of Rajasthan. The river had been reduced to a monsoonal drain for decades, while the region was reeling under chronic drought condition. Rather it dried up for years .The process of rejuvenation of this river was started in the year 1987 by constructing a small water harvesting structure, called Johad (specially in the rural areas of Rajasthan). These Johads are traditional earthen dams built to harvest each single drop of Rainwater falling on the ground. The first Johad came up in the village Bhavta. Later seeing the benefits of these johads even during toughest drought condition both quantitatively and qualitatively in the livelihood of the villagers and also because it had an great impact on the economic conditions of the individuals in a way improving their standard of living. Many more villagers from different villages came forward to build these structures in their villages reviving the traditional method of harnessing the rainwater. Johad is not only a physical structure made by rural poors through traditional knowledge and wisdom but it is also a symbol of peace, love and unity present in the village society. So it has its on social dimension impact on the lives of the rural poor.

Benefit of water harvesting structures: The foremost benefit of the water harvesting structures is conservation of rainwater, which helps in Recharging of ground water by harvesting each single drop of rainwater. This not only preserves water for use during the drought but also leads to rise in the water table in the adjoining areas of the structure especially in the wells existing in the fields.

Easier availability of the water in these drought-affected regions result in drastic improvements in the life of the people of these areas. This makes irrigation possible throughout the year and open new avenues of the income for them. This will be an effort towards reducing poverty that emphasizes poor people to become self-reliant.

Overall Impact

Earlier farmers were not able to cultivate even one single crop a season but now they are able to cultivate a maximum of 2 crops a season. Agricultural production has increased.

  • Even for getting drinking water females had to travel quite a distance to have access for water. But now due to these water-harvesting structures there much of the time is saved which they utilize in doing other productive works.
  • Cattle's, Goats and other animals in the villages and wild animals in the sariska region come to these johads for drinking water.
  • Apart than these water table in the wells has also increased and helped in recharging of the Ground water.
  • Earlier, 80 % men in the working age group use to migrate for employment as labours but now they all stay in the village itself and do cultivation in their land which earlier use to be uncultivable.

In 1988, many more Johads were built in several villages such as Bhiriavas, Dumoli, Khadata, Khatala, Samatsar, Chosla, Lalpura.This trend continued during the years 1989 to 1991.More Johads were constructed in Villages such as Palasana, Joge-ki-dhani, Hamirpur, Samra, Natala, Kaled, Jagnathpura and many others. And till date altogether more than 350 Johads have been built in the catchment area of the Arvari River.

Water in the Johads raised the water table in the entire catchment area of the river Arvari.
From1996 onwards the river began to flow in its full flow and became perennial. The villages also had to contend with the Government. Once the river had been revived and fish were seen in its water. As now there was plenty of water in the Arvari River, there was natural growth of fish, which went on multiplying. Seeing this the government wanted to get hold of fish and gave the contract to big private contractor for catching the fish. It is not that the local people wanted control over the fish.

Far from it. They are all vegetarians and do not eat fish, but they realized that today it is fish and tomorrow it would be water. This got the people thinking who owned the river ? The Government through the contractor was intruding into community's domain, its right over the use of water. Water as a resource, which was developed by them through their hard efforts and labour, they wanted to have the rights to utilize it.

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