The Kunnavakkam watershed area is situated at 7 Kms North East From Uthiramerur town.The headquarters of Uthiramerur Taluk are in the Kancheepuram District, Tamilnadu. The Kunnavakkam watershed area covers an area of 1258.00.0 hectares. The entire area is extremely dry and the sudden and erratic rainfall very often takes away the topsoil resulting damage to the cultivable lands. The conservation and sustainable utilization of biological diversity and the preservation of intra specific genetic erosion are essential. This creates access to the genetic variability needed to achieve sustainable advances in Biological Diversity.
The land surrounding Kunnavakkam covers almost the entire area within the proposed boundary, except for a thin strip of black cotton soils in less than 4 percent of the total extent of area.
The most important factor affecting the vegetation and land use is climate. It shapes and even dictates the tiller over the composition and structure of the original vegetation. The trends in the mode and type of vegetation brought about by the human use transformation have been and remain tied to the climatic influence. The total average rainfall as well as its distribution is limited within which we ought to operate. The other significant factors are the temperature as well as the length of the dry season. Some specific information such as the maximum rainfall intensity within a short period is highly influential too. Planting trees or crops is clearly affected when the rain starts, and their success or failures depend on the further rains that are to follow. The yearly average rain over the last 10 years is 1132 mm.
The Kunnavakum area mostly consist of red and dry dirt. Few areas have minimum depth of soil and devoid of dense vegetation. The run off is high during heavy rains and for a short time, little percolation and infiltration takes place. Silting is a perennial problem in all the tanks and canals in the lower areas and some of the agricultural land along the sides of the ravines are also greatly affected by soil erosion.People’s view about the Kunnavakkam watershed area circumstances in the past is that:
Over exploitation and unsustainable use of natural resources in the Kunnavakkam watershed area have resulted in a low income. Natural resources, a decreased productivity on farm land, increased water runoff, soil erosion, seasonal migration by the habitants to the towns and cities are just a few things that are result from low income . Reduction in the natural vegetation, inappropriate agriculture practices, extensive dependency on ground water, and insufficient extension services on sustainable land management practices have all contributed to degradation of land and low productivity. Due to degradation of large extent of the lands, the area under vegetation has decreased over the last two decades. Some Watershed Development conservation techniques are, sustainable use of natural resources and Community involvement in the project. Planning is a vital factor to be addressed by the project. Vast stretches of land, are degraded and neglected as critical segments of the community, and the landless. The women do not find adequate employment opportunities which result in economic deprivation and social negligence of the farming community. Further lack of appropriate knowledge and opportunity on skills-related towards effective land use and agro based activity, increase the severity of the malady.
Ground water level in the Kunnavakkam watershed area is depleting and is becoming a crucial problem mainly because of the following reasons:
There is Extensive runoff due to lack of soil conservation measures around the Kunnavakkam watershed area.
The existing open wells are dry during summer. Only one third of the farmers could cultivate one crop during rainy season. In the past, farmers used to cultivate three crops in a year. It gave full employment to the marginal farmers as well as to landless people and agricultural labourers. Now, due to lack of water, farmers are unable to carryout agricultural practices throughout the year. Large number of farmers left their land as fallow due to seasonal nature of work, high cost of agricultural inputs, and low productivity of land. The major reason being, lands turning to be unfit for cultivation.
Lack of green cover enhances erosion of fertile soil coupled with the absence of soil and water conservation measures.
The methodologies of farming were eco-friendly and the soil was fertile with rich micronutrients. As an impact of globalization and as a method to improve the economy, a drastic change over traditional farming (and at present monoculture) is widely practiced. The people who were very much independent and self-sufficient are now depending on the society for survival. They cultivate for other countries to improve their economy by polluting their own environment, which was the basis for their survival. Food crop production has almost become nil in many areas of Kunnavakkam watershed area. Programmes Undertaken By TAPRISH will help the village over come the harrowing situation.
PRA exercises and in-depth surveys were conducted by TAPRISH in and around Kunnavakkam watershed area villages. Our extension workers carried out surveys on socio-economies, general population, literacy levels, and present problems.
The involvement of rural community participation is greatly enhanced in deepening of ponds in the watershed area to conserve soil and water.
The primary target group includes all rural farming households in Kunnavakkam watershed area. All of them are marginal and small farmers. However the beneficiaries include all the people who dwell in the watershed area.
Land users in the Kunnavakkam watershed area, are able to practice dry land agriculture, watershed management, horticulture and forestry including conservation and use of natural resources on a sustainable basis.
It is proposed in the lands with slope, accelerated soil erosion will be enhanced by the transportation of large quantities of topsoil and silt into the streams and lands below. Where ever applicable, contour bunds have been proposed.
This will help the land to pool and collect the water in the ponds dug in a selected place in the farmers land. Besides helping to store water, it will increase the recharge of water in the well. Seven such farm ponds have been proposed.
Deepening of percolation ponds at two places and deepening of percolation pond in one place in the watershed will be proposed.
This will, to a great extent, maintain the moisture retention of the soil by being a long term and a permanent tree cover, ensuring the farmers with perennial income of Rs.950. Forestry Seedlings such as Tamarind, Neem, Teak, Kumuz, Sappotta , Mango, Guava, and Gooseberry Seedlings For Agro horticulture in 720 Nos.
Various Grass Seeds will be sown along the bunds, which will sprout and grow to be a binding factor in the constructed bunds by arresting erosion.
The Pipe outlets proposed here in the programme will act as real safeguard for the already existing and the proposed establishment of bunds. This will regulate the flow of surplus water without affecting the bunds.
Intended beneficiaries’ response to the project’s goals depend upon their perception of watershed development and social forestry. The project goals will be conditioned by socio-cultural orientation and institutional framework. A positively oriented attitude will augment the plan endeavors, foster its development and contribute substantially towards its cherished ideals. In such a situation, motivating the community is achieved expeditiously and the prospects of the project becoming a people’s programme is bright. On the other hand, negative attitude and pessimistic orientation do not augur well for a successful outcome. Hence the following community level programmes have been proposed.
The extension functionaries at the grass root level will facilitate the formation of micro-groups (Including women) in each village with properly identified farm leaders, who will periodically discuss and deliberate to properly appraise regarding the programmes to be implemented. This can be achieved through continued PRA exercise carried out in different time intervals to identify problems on need based by organizing the farmer’s functional forums.
To conserve soil and water, increase productivity, improve quality of life and to check environment crisis, the following will be carried out during capacity building phase.
Agriculture in the Kunnavakkam watershed area is not well performed and managed. A balanced usage of agricultural input determines profits, which is again limited by fluctuating market. The following programmes are proposed.
The rapport built with the beneficiary community and available information, generated from them using PRA methods has facilitated formation of village watershed committee. This committee comprises of representation from among the farmers of the selected watershed and is proposed to register formally under Societies Registration Act in due course. Hence the process related to this is on progress. In order to have formal functioning of the committee and to canalize the fund flow a Savings Bank Account (SB A/C.No. xxxxxxx ) will be opened in the name of ‘KUNNAVAKKAM VILLAGE WATERSHED COMMITTEE’ to be jointly operated by the Chairman of the committee and the PFA (Taprish) in the nearest bank.
The committee’s major function is to involve in planning of activities, motivate/Mobilize local support for the project, monitor the ongoing activities, suggest appropriate feed back on project implementation, initiate social binding on protection of assets, meet periodically to reflect on the progress of the project and suggest measures for correction if needed.
The trainings and exposures needed in terms of capacity building, managerial aspects of committee, accounting technological assistance etc .will be provided on a regular basis by the PFA.
The committee and PFA are jointly responsible in carrying out all the activities by fulfilling the objectives envisaged in this project.
To review the impact on the implementation of the scheme during the Capacity Building Phase period, continuous monitoring of all major project components, their impacts, failures and success is considered essential as a management tool for the project management. The Project Facilitating agency (PFA) will be responsible for the monitoring of both socioeconomic and technical issues. The extension teams will monitor and continuously evaluate the progress. For Evaluation, detailed technical and socioeconomic indicators should be decided on, during the Capacity Building Phase.