Over 1,100 artificial farm ponds and check dams have been built along the Nagpur-Mumbai Samruddhi Mahamarg by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) in Vidarbha and Marathwada region over the last three years keeping in mind the drought faced by farmers in these regions almost every year.
As farmers in Vidarbha and Marathwada region face water scarcity, government officials say that these new ponds and check dams will help store over 2,500 crore litres of water that can be used by them well after the monsoon. At the same time, the soil obtained by digging of ponds has been utilised for the elevation and construction of the expressway.
According to officials, the new farm ponds and deepening and broadening of check dams or rivulets have increased the
water storage capacity of farmers in the area. It is expected that this will improve farm produce in the region as farmers would now be able to produce crops that they could not earlier due to scarcity of water after monsoon, they added.
The scheme has been implemented by MSRDC following the nod from Maharashtra government to build these ponds alongside the Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg as part of water storage and management solution.
Under the plan, the soil from the dug-up ponds along with the deepened and broadened rivulets was utilised for construction of expressway.
For this, an agreement was reached between the land owner/farmer and the contractor by the Taluka representative, officials said. It was decided that the contractor would dig up the farm land and make the pond and then use the soil derived from it for the construction of expressway.
As part of the process, the dimensions for depth and markings of the farm were first carried out. Following this, the farm pond was dug. Once the soil was acquired, it was taken to the expressway’s construction site for road elevation or base layering before concretisation. Later, the farm pond was built for the farmer to help store water. The government provided all necessary approvals and assistance for the same, officials said.
Similarly, rivulets and small check dams were also revived by deepening, broadening and cleaning them.
The official said that sourcing the soil locally for construction of the expressway not only reduced the cost but also quickened the pace of construction.
A farmer from Takliwadi village in Aurangabad district who has benefitted from the scheme said, “Now, I have around three-meter deep farm pond, where I am storing the water. I can now grow produce even after the monsoon in my four acres of land. Since the region is always affected with drought, we had to depend only on rain water. After monsoon, as the fields went dry, we had no choice but to go and work in industrial area till monsoon. Now this issue is over,” he said.
Anil Gaikwad, joint managing director of MSRDC, said apart from providing fast connectivity between two large cities and opening development opportunity for 10 districts, the expressway project has also benefitted the farmers of this drought-affected region. “We have provided over a thousand farm ponds to farmers, helping them store 2,500 crore litres of water. Apart from that we have also deepened check dams and rivulet, which are irrigating the agricultural lands in the area,” he added.
The 701-kilometer Nagpur-Mumbai expressway that has been named ‘Hindu Hurudaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg’ has been envisioned as the fastest expressway in the country with permitted top speed of 150 km/hr. The Rs 55,000-crore expressway is expected to reduce the travel time between the two cities to eight hours from the present 16 hours.