All efforts were made to ensure that women had voice in all the decision making related to the work and its execution. The total collective strength of the pani samitis is 253 persons. The number of women is 94. Of the 30 persons in the Water Federation the number of women are 7. While these percentages are as yet less than perfect, the organisations seek their active participation and all efforts will be made to equalise the numbers in the future.

There were 2328 women as compared to 918 men who worked on the sites. Women found themselves getting equal pay for equal work, something that women all over the world, are not yet accustomed to. As reported previously some women picked up skills in masonry and can now find employment as semi-skilled, rather than unskilled labour. Each of these decisions by the respective organisations: to hire women, to include women in committees and seek their active participation and to skill women in a male dominated skill had its own repercussions but finally the work was strengthened because of it and resulted in a slight shift of attitude within those involved.

The role of women

The village committee had decided to restore the nadi in their village and extend it to an area that they had demarcated. The sarpanch (village elected head) was nervous about sanctioning the work, possibly because of the past history of the panchayat, where the previous sarpanch was accused of misappropriation of funds from the selling of trees that had been felled to clear the land. Around 20 people and representatives from Prayatna Sansthan went to meet the Block Development Officer (BDO) to let them know what they wanted to do, on finding that they were unable to persuade him, they appealed to the District Collector who referred them back to the tehsildar (sub-divisional revenue official) and patwari (village revenue official). The patwari examined and measured the land and stated there was no problem with the land being used for the expansion of the nadi. The case was referred to the Sub Divisional Magistrate who gave his permission but said that the final consent was still in the hands of the sarpanch. The sarpanch by then felt pressurized enough to sanction the work.

The process of acquiring the land took over 2 weeks and several meetings. The local people bore all the expenses of travel and documentation themselves and spent a lot of their working hours in lobbying. This whole process helped the entire village to function as a group for the common good. The process has helped the local group acquire the confidence to interact with the government officials and local administration freely and articulately. The rain came very soon after half the nadi was dug out giving them 67 million litres of water. For a village where the hand pumps yield saline water and where there was no fresh water source. The creation of this lake can be seen as a major accomplishment.

Profile: Bansi nadi, Kankaria

The staff from Manthan went to visit Jajota with the suggestion that the nadi within their village be restored. They were met with general indifference from a large part of the community. Ganga ma was the only one who showed interest and she and 8 of her friends demarcated the land and started digging manually. The rest of the village laughed at her and told her that Manthan would not pay her for her work and that the work would be of no use.

Manthan and Ganga ma set up a local account in a bank in a neighbouring village where the labour payments would be deposited. At the end of the first two weeks, the first instalment of funds was transferred to this account and Ganga ma went to the bank and withdrew cash to distribute to the 8 women. The payments were as agreed at the start of work.

Seeing this, more women joined in gradually and the work picked up pace. Ganga ma and her friends would measure the land and allocate work at the start of the day and monitor the progress of work. Finally there were 146 women and 15 men who worked on that land.Ganga ma is above 60 years old and has no formal education but the village and our organisations remain indebted to her.


Jajota nadi has a storage capacity of 86 million litres. Ganga ma now wants to deepen this lake to twice its current capacity! This time she has the entire village on her side.

Profile: Village Jajota and Ganga ma

7 families live in Bagariyon ki dhani – a total of 25 people. They received Rs166 per day for the work they did. They were also included in the decision making processes related to planning and implementing the construction work. Santosh spent Rs10, 000 of what his family earned to improve his house. 2 women said that a couple were able to earn Rs 10,000.

Profile: Bagariyon ki dhani, Jhakholai

In another charming story (irrepressible digression) related to animals, there is a white horse that reaches Bansi nadi unescorted, at 11 am every day. She drinks some water and unsolicited, she dances by the lake every single day. Her name is Vasundhara, and her occupation is to carry the groom to the bride’s house during marriage ceremonies. She is 2 and half years old.

Profile: Vasundhara

Structure: Nosal with a storage capacity of 252,792,674 litres

Sukha Ram owns 40 Bighas of land near Nosal banda. He used to depend on the unpredictable and scanty rain for agriculture construction of the banda he bored a tube well and struck sweet water at a depth of 150 ft. The bore well yields 4-5 hours of water per day.

This year he grew mustard, wheat, grams and harvested 1000 quintals of wheat and 30 quintals of wheat and grams which worth it Rs 4,00,000.

Profile: Sukha Ram, Village Nosal

Narayan is part of a joint family holding of 26 acres. The water in their well now stands at 80 feet. Last year they harvested 10,000 kilos of wheat and they made a profit of Rs200,000 shared amongst 8 brothers. They have a combined animal wealth of 20 cows, 5 buffalos and 150 sheep and goats. Of the 8 brothers, 6 live away and 2 live on the land. Seeing the improvement in agricultural income 1 of the 6 brothers has returned to live off the land. Their current harvest will include sweet potato, chilies, maize, pearl millet and cluster beans.

Profile: Narayan, Village Gudda

Structure: Pingoon Nadi – storage capacity of 31,050,000 litres

Raghunath owns 2 acres of land. He used to have a bore well on his land that yielded saline water for under an hour a day. This same bore well now provides fresh water for 4 hours at a stretch and enables him to farm much more intensively. This year he expects 3000 kilos of bajra from his land. He owns 12 buffalos for which he says he has adequate supplies of fresh and dry fodder for the year. He says the quality of the soil is now good enough to grow fodder for the next 3 years. Before the creation of the nadi, the fodder, if at all he attempted to grow it, would not last for more than 3 months and as such he never really attempted to grow it. He sells 200 litres of milk per day, making himself a decent living.

Profile: Raghu nath, Village Pingoon

Profile: Lala Ram, Village Gudda

Structure: Naal ka banda

Lala Ram has 10 bighas (approx. 3 acres of land). On this, last winter he harvested 5000 kg of wheat, he grew green chilies, tomatoes, brinjal, okra, onions and fodder during the summer and this harvest he has sowed bajra (pearl millet) on the entire land. The dry fodder made available after the harvest feeds his 15 buffaloes. Lala Ram said the availability of fodder and fresh water has improved animal milk production by at least a litre per day.

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Profile: Lala Ram, Village Gudda

Profile: Jagdish Meghwal, Village Jhakolai

Structure feeding his well: Taal ki nadi, with astorage capacity of 106,532,200 litres.

Jagdish owns 10 bighas (approximately 3 acres) of land. Before the construction of Taal ki nadi, his farming was entirely dependent on the monsoon, and he had at best one harvest in a year. Jagdish has now moved to his field with his wife, children and grand children (13 in all). Noticing that Taal ki Nadi had filled, last year he bored a well 215 ft. deep on his land. They struck water at 100 ft.

Last year he had two harvests, plus the summer harvest of vegetables and fodder (Lucerne). His winter harvest included 4000 kg of wheat that he had harvested for the first time in 35 years. His winter harvest also included mustard, barley and chickpeas. The monsoon crop had pearl millet, mung, sesame, moth (Turkish gram/vignaaconitifolia). His agriculture is entirely organic and dependent on animal dung for fertiliser. He has 1 buffalo and 20 goats that provide milk for the family.

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Profile: Jagdish Meghwal, Village Jhakolai

Structures in Village Gudda:

  • Naal ka banda, with a storage capacity of 51,537,640 litres
  • Ghasi baba ka banda, with a storage capacity of 10,112,840 litres
  • Bhagat ji ka Gulla nadi, with a storage capacity 4,464,900 litres

As a consequence of the percolation into the ground, 10 hand pumps primarily from Naal ka banda, most of which had been dry for the past five years are now providing sweet water to the village. Two irrigation wells which had been dry for the past 5 years now have water at 80 ft., something unheard of in the region. This village used to get water from tankers from villages a few kilometres away. Today this village sends out 20 tankers (5000 litres each) of water every day to provide water to other neighbouring villages like Bawali, Balaji ki dhani, Jhag, Sant ki dhani, Aao at Rs200 per tanker. People also sell water to the salt production units at Rs400 per tanker.


Profile: Village Gudda (as narrated by Babli Devi and Choti Devi)
Profile: Village Gudda (as narrated by Babli Devi and Choti Devi)