This project, started in 2012 with funding from the Coca-Cola Foundation sought to address the first phase of a long-term water shed development program that eventually aims cover the entire catchment area around the Sambhar Salt Lake.
The lake falls within the semi-arid zone of Rajasthan; with a yearly average of 460mm of rain,it suffers repeated drought. Exacerbating the impact of drought in the project area is the salt production technology used in the salt pans that dot the surface of the Sambhar salt lake.Using very modest estimates,the 10,000 tube-wells located on the Sambhar salt lake pump out approximately 96 billion litres of water a year.Salt is produced by flooding the now almost dry surface of the lake with the pumped out water.Only a negligible volume of the extracted water goes back in to the ground,as most of it is lost inevaporation.It is no surprise that the water table is dropping at an alarming rate as a consequence of the unregulated extraction of groundwater. Once-fertile agricultural land turned arid and barren because of the lack of groundwater.
This project aimed to create pockets of fresh water around the Sambhar Salt Lake where most of the ground water is saline and unfit for consumption and the surface water sources are few and far between.There were two implementation partners on the ground: Manthan Sanstha and Prayatna Sansthan. The project was coordinated by the Foundation for Rural Recovery and Development (FORRAD).
In a combination of the restoration of old and the construction of new structures,31 rain water harvesting reservoirs spread over20 villages in Ajmer,Jaipur and Nagaur districts in the north- western state of Rajasthan were developed.
The project has reached its close now and as described in the proposal,31 rain water harvesting structures have been created. A total storage capacity of 1,556,612,667 litres has been created and a cumulative volume of 3,846,010,100 litres have been collected so far in the past three monsoons.Its impact has already been felt by an estimated 93,000 people.This impact will extend well beyond these figures in the coming years not only because of population growth but as the groundwater gets replenished and its impact is felt further away.