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Finding the best use for degraded lands in western India Essay

This research paper takes into account different approaches for the use of land in the Western Ghats located on the west coast of India. First of all we will see how this research will use the information that is coming ahead in order to decide which approach should be taken into account. This needs answers and justifications that make an alternative better then the others. Whatever alternative me take upon, first thing first, we need to analyze and enlist both the negative and positive points separately so that we are in a better position in order to make a decision on the behalf of the entire community.

Then we need to see weather the alternative that is being implied is cost efficient which means that weather the cost incurred on the implementation of the programme does generate benefit to the community at the same magnitude (Prasad, 2002). A cost benefit analysis is to be don’t in order to see weather the investment on such a programme is beneficial or is a mere waste of money because at this situation, both the people and the government cannot take any risk regarding any such relief programme for which people have been waiting for so long.

In continuation to this approach, people of this area are anticipating a long-term solution to their water shortage problem, they want their problem to be solved in the same tenure of the government, without any further time lags, and also they want a solution that they can run themselves even after the administration changes. This is because a system being there and not having adequate resources or authentication to operate is just a mere waste of money and no use to the inhabitants of this village. (Prasad, 2002).

The approach that we select through this research paper should be focused on more crop cultivation by the farmers of this area so that they can earn more revenue out of it and hence improve their standard of living. (Prasad, 2002) The area that has been discussed in this research paper is the eastern flank of the Western Ghats in Mahrashtara, India. This area spreads over 180000sq kilometers and is one of the 34 global biologically diversified places. With 30% of all the mammals, plants, fishes and birds in the entire country, the land only comprises of 6% of the total area of the country.

This area holds great significance due to its richness in different type of medical that are used in bioengineering research methods and other medicines that we use daily. (Verne, 1999) The area is also known to be one of the richest due to its biodiversity. Moreover this area is also known for having centuries old heritage, values, culture and norms that are still practiced widely among the villagers. Apart from biodiversity, the area has some rich cultural and religious backgrounds which make them stand in the league of highly diverse cultures.

They have different rituals norms and values which had led to the creation of separate religious sections which in turn affects decision making at the personal level and hence on the political front. Although, different cultures have brought diversity into the area, the main point over here is to keep them work together so the natural habitat for the endangered species can be saved and the area could be developed in order to protect the biodiversity of the area. (Bull, 2006)

The social condition of the area is pathetic as the government officials are notoriously slow in providing the basic services like clean water, schools, hospitals, banks and other recreational services. Lack of the basic amenities of life makes living of the local’s tough which in turn slows down the economic progress of the area. (Bonelle, 2005) Analyzing the topographical situation of the, the area has a mountainous terrain. It receives annual rainfall of around 200-600mm. The rain fall has cycles which vary between two or three months and normally occur between the period of June and September.

Lack of water storage facilities makes water a scarce resource because all of its gets dried up in the extreme weather of May and June so there is a dire need of conservation of water. (Bull, 2006) The agriculture sector consists of rice as the only cash crop of this area which is cultivated in the monsoon season starting from June to September. Other crops like grains and pulses are grown after the cash crop is harvested. The fate of the growth of other crops depends on the soil fertility of the left over soil (after being used for sugar cane).

Dearth of water coerces farmers to apply expensive fertilizers to keep soil fertile but they are unable to use them due to their exorbitant costs. In turn, these poor farmers have to settle for low quality natural fertilizers like dead leaves, ashes and cow dung which are procured from neighboring areas including other villages and localities. (Verne, 1999) There are three options or alternatives we have to offer to improve the situation of the local inhabitants by lessening their problems and improving their current state of affairs. The alternatives are: 1.

A water pipe line to be made in association with the sugar cane mill so cane could be grown in the area. This solution is not a unanimous one but it is suggested by the local politicians who represent the district and federal government. In this way the cultivated sugar cane will earn a handsome amount of revenue to the local population; will bring in water from far flung areas and will also serve the demand of sugar mill. In the long term, it will attract investment for other mills to be set up in the area which would bring in prosperity in the locality as it will create more jobs in the area.

2. Best practices to be adopted from neighboring areas such as Aloke Taluka. Copying the solutions applied to similar problems in other areas shall be beneficial as it would made the conditions of local better, both economically and financially. 3. Lastly, what we can do is just to leave the plan as it is and look for a better venture because no other solution seems to be viable for a problem of this nature. Tackling the last problem first, if no heed is paid to the current problem, it would not harm the county itself except to the cause of biodiversity conservation.

These Western Ghats have inhabitants of around 400 – 500 households only which not even contribute to a single percent in the GDP of the country. If we just look it from a different prism, we see that there are other lot of issues left to be dealt with so savings mammals and other endangered species is a good idea but not on the expense of already deprived humans who are dying due to insufficient calorie intake and earn less than 1$ a day which does not satisfy their daily needs. We all are aware of the fact that more than half of India’s population lives below the poverty line and have no nutritious food at their disposal.

(Lewis, 2004) Apart from this all, doing nothing on providing water to the locality, it would serve as a push factor for villagers to leave this place and migrate to cities where they can earn good living and can live happily. Global warming is also playing its role as the amount of rain fall is has decreased over the time and the future seems to be bleak too as there would hardly be any sufficient rainfall in years to come. (Lewis, 2004). Secondly, copying the viable and practical practices adopted by Aloke Taluka village is something worth to ponder on.

The topography of both the villages is more or less the same so the experience gained in one area will certainly help us out in making strategies on the other area. It would make us analyze and learn what their residents have done for the uplift and development of the village. (Verne, 1999) The village of Aloke Taluka has a very fascinating and captivating programme to conserve water. It is something worth analyzing because it shows the desire by the inhabitants of the area to conserve water as it is a scarce resource for them.

The project was initiated with the assistance and collaboration of Windsor University of Canada and the cooperation of local government body. The main mission behind this program was to devise strategies which would pool in water from every possible place (mainly in the areas where the water gets wasted), turning it into a huge reservoir (Lewis, 2004) The land on which the agriculture takes place, had never been used before for this purpose so it remained rich and fertile which resulted in extra yield. Terraces were also built on the tops so to prevent water from running off the slopes and to stop soil erosion too.

Another interesting way to conserve water was to store water from the roof sheds of the houses. In this way, water was used in kitchens and for gardening purposes. Aquifers were made in a traditional way so water could be stored in it. (Lewis, 2004)Various other contour bunds, damns and nalla bunds were built with the traditional designing and low excavations include ponds and trenches. These trenches were made at 90 degree to the slop of the hills to stop the runoff water and the rich fertile soil from the surface.

Waste from farms was taken to field to make soil fertile. It mostly included cow dung and dead leaves. The elder generation of the village has also set up a committee in the area where meetings are held on the regular basis to talk about and converse things related to the farming practices. (Lewis, 2004). They believe that in the order they carried out their farming practices were far better than today’s as it yielded good results. These ‘nitty gritty’ and tips full of wisdom can only be found in the talk with the elderly men, can not be found in books.

They train and coach their fellow farmers who always get something important to learn from them related to the field of farming. To give an example, there is a tree which is admired, valued and honored by the local community. On snooping it further, it was found that that type of a tree always grows in those places where table is closer to the surface, so the land can be dug out to bring out water easily. This research helped a lot as it uncovered many wells and springs located in the area. The main advantage of this knowledge is that it makes researchers think for more sound and viable solutions.

It makes them consider natural fertilizers available in the area like cow dung, burned leaves, ashes of left crop etc. (Lewis, 2004)The awareness of using clean water for the fields and live stocks brought many benefits for the village. Before its knowledge people were of the view that they can come with good amount of yield with any kind of water, whether it is dirty or clean. Now when they were made aware of the repercussions of the dirty water, they demand clean water as crops yields more, live stock remains healthy and copious amount of milk is being produced.

This also had an overall positive effect on the hygiene of the village as they are getting healthy things to eat without any toxic or unhygienic elements in it. Notion of crop rotation is also practiced over there. It was first started in 16Th century and its main purpose was to give the fields some rest in order to gain some nutrition and minerals so it could give better yield in the next harvest. (Jeffery, 2001). . The disadvantages associated with this solution are also there. First of all they are dealing with the kharif crops and no other cash crops are added to the carts.

Also, electricity and gas supply is required for sugar mill to start operating and until its availability to the area; the sugar mill unit can not be set up. Moreover, the water supply is not ensured as there is no permanent canal in the area and it can be a big problem if rainfall cycle gets disturbed. (Jeffery, 2001) Tackling the very the first option of bringing the pipe line, the local representatives who have say in both the federal and district government came up with the proposal of bringing in water from a British made dam located 8km from the area through a pipe line in cooperation and collaboration of Sugar Mill.

Seeing from the planner’s point of view, taking water from the neighboring dam will give a respite to locals from importing in costly water tankers from the dam. (Jeffery, 2001) One major positive point behind the whole project is that no hill slopes modifications are required for the construction of pipe line. If we scrutinize the positives of the project more closely we come to a conclusion that water pipe line is always imperative for a locality that is underprivileged due to the insufficient supply of water for most of the year.

So in this regard if direct access of water is given to the village, it will not only be used for agricultural purposes but also for the domestic use too. Water is the basic necessity of life so ease of its availability will certainly improve hygiene conditions of the locals. Most of the diseases which pop due to insufficiency of water shall be wiped out due to its supply. Most of all, water will bring in development in the locality as more people will be attracted to the place which would in turn lead to the social development of the area too.

(Lewis, 2004). Sugar cane is a cash crop, so cultivating it will for sure help locality to raise its standards from the past. Growing sugar will also exert a pull on Sugar Mill owners to set up their plants near the area so they can procure the crop as soon as it is ready. This would bring in employment for the villagers which would raise their income levels and thus will increase economic activity in the area. Extra revenues will lead to more investments in markets in the village which also include purchase of new land, making of new shops and stores etc.

(Wirthman, 2001) If we see the dark side of the picture, one can harbinger that in times to come the plan does not seem to be working efficiently as it is meant to be. First of all, pipe line is not going to generate enough employment for the village which would give the locals a cushion against their financial problems. Moreover when pipe line is completed, villagers will realize that it was a momentary bonus for them as this job was not there on permanent basis. (Wirthman, 2001)

Looking at the cultivation of the sugar cane itself, we find out that the farmers from that locality have a weak financial back bone. Sugar cane requires loads of high quality fertilizers and farmers can not afford it so if they use cheap fertilizers, it would produce low and substandard quality crop which would neither be valuable for the cane grower nor to the sugar mill. Also, if we divert our attention to the local government conditions we see that due to vested interests and nepotism, some groups would use their influence in the division of water from the pipe line.

Apart form this; maintenance of the pipe line is also a major issue. It is strongly believed that as the pipe line will be there in the hands of the government, it would not be properly maintain which would be drastic in the long term. (Wirthman, 2001) Laying down such a big pipe line is also a daunting task to undertake. Its maintenance is also one of he biggest issues to handle because if its maintenance costs overrun the economic interests of the locality, then it won’t be considered as a good project to undertake.

So option number one closes with its all positives and negatives. One big question which raises its ugly head is the cultivating sugar cane. Soil in this area had already lost valuable nutrients which had decreased its fecundity and with every harvest, it will continue to become less fertile. (Wirthman, 2001) The experts have already advised the locals not to grow cane in this area as the soil is on the brink of degradation. The reason is that sugar cane requires a lot of fertilizers along with these nutrients.

After two or three harvests, the soil looses its potency and turn into a low nutrient soil which is not good for growing next crop of sugar cane harvest, even for second crops (grains, pulses). Thus in the long run, this pipe line will be used for the domestic purposes only in stead of watering the field for growing the cash crops like sugar cane. (Wirthman, 2001) Conclusion: In the light of all the positives and negatives discussed earlier, we firmly believe that the practices started by villagers of neighboring Aloke Taluka very much gratify all the questions brought forward in the beginning of the research paper.

The consequences of these practices would result in great benefit for the entire village and its inhabitants (Verne, 1999). If we analyze it, we see that in the area, 20% of the houses have a direct access to the fresh water from springs whereas rest of the area have an access to water from other different sources which would uplift the living standards of that locality and will make people self sufficient in financial, economical and social terms which would in term enable them to arrange their own amenities of life not being provided by government up till now.

The average capacity of water available to people can be raised up to 750 liters a day and can rise further too. This can only take place if 73000cubic meters of water can be stored in around 14 masonry check damns and gabions (Wirthman, 2001). A winter crop can also be grown as an alternative or second crop. This all will generate economic activity in the area which will open up new markets for the villagers adding up extra revenues in their annual income.

Uplifting of standards will increase morale of people. They now have a sense that they need to keep their appearance reasonable and keeping up homes and houses is essential. People will now have surplus resources which will be used in research purposes with different cash crops such as grafting and making new ways of minting money. When people will become self sufficient at the lower levels, they would be able to afford school for their children which in the long run will be beneficial for the whole society.

Many of the well- off farmers has bought some machinery for their farms in order to mechanize threshing and plowing of their crops and fields. (Prasad, 2002). Reference Ameen, Retrieved June 20, 2008, from Call of the hill Web site: http://westernghats. blogspot. com/(2001 April). Bonelle, M (2005) Forests, Water and People in the Humid Tropics: Past, Present and Future Hydrological Research for Integrated Land and Water Management (International Hydrology Series) . Cambridge University Press. Bull, A (2006).

Forest Diversity and Management (Topics in Biodiversity and Conservation). Springer. Jeffery, R (2001) Conflict and Cooperation in Participatory Natural Resource Management (Global Issues) . Palgrave Macmillan. Lewis, M (2004). Forest Diversity and Management (Topics in Biodiversity and Conservation). Ohio University Press. Prasad, R (2002).

Research Perspectives in Hydraulics and Water Resources Engineering . World Scientific Publishing Company. Retrieved June 21, 2008, from The Western Ghats Web site: http://highrangephotography.com/wp/wpcontent/publications/SanctuaryAsia_Western%2 0Ghats_4_2001. pdf Simpson, Frank (1998). Retrieved June 21, 2008, from Conjunctive use of water resources in Deccan Trap Web site: http://www. unesco. org/most/bpik13-2. htm Verma, Deepak Thematic Report on Mountain Ecosystems. Retrieved June 21, 2008, Web site: http://www. cbd. int/doc/world/in/in-nr-me-en. pdf Verne, J (1991) The Extraordinary Journeys: Around the World in Eighty Days (Oxford World’s Classics) . Oxford Univ Press Wirthman (2001), A Geomorphology of the Tropics. Springer.


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