Himanshu Kaushik,TNN | Times of India | Jun 29, 2015, 02.13 AM IST
KESHOD (Junagadh): A group of villagers has revived a dried up river by building check-dams. River Meghal in Junagadh district dried up 15 years ago but this year, thanks to the effort of villagers, it overflowed after the very first spell of rain. Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) helped the villagers build as many as 1,100 structures, including 54 check dams, along the 70km length of the river. The cost of the project — it involved labour by 6,500 villagers from early 2000 to 2012 — came to Rs 7 crore. Incidentally, it costs the state government around Rs 8 crore to build an RCC sump and pump house. The Mehgal has now turned into something of a 'perennial river' and has boosted farm output and prosperity of villages along its length. Check dams at strategic points ensure that water is available in the river throughout the year. Sonigbhai Dhandhiya, a farmer from Nani Dhanej, now grows three crops a year. Earlier, he had to be content with only one during the monsoon. "The revived river has changed my life," he said. "My income has increased. Moreover, water levels in wells have also gone up. Further, the river has reduced salinity in the local water considerably." Dhandhiya has been able to renovate his house. "Usually, if a man's village faces water scarcity, he finds it difficult to find brides for his sons," he said. "But because of Meghal, I have been able to get one son married and the second one engaged." Bhimjibhai Faryani, a farmer from Bhanduri village, says: "Earlier we used to grow only groundnuts and everything depended on the rains. Now I also grow wheat and vegetables in the Rabi season, as there is now adequate water because of the river." Apurva Oza of AKRSP said they had used a three-pronged approach for the Meghal River Basin Project. "Massive community participation, construction of check dams and use of traditional rain water-harvesting measures revived the river," he said.