Govt to use MGNREGA to revive Birabati river
Kolkata: In a unique move, the Panchayats and Rural Development department has chalked out a comprehensive scheme to revive Birabati river in Bankura, by using the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
If successful, the experiment will be replicated in other parts of Bengal which in turn will aid irrigation.
Birabati is a small river which has originated from Baliguma area under Ratanpur gram panchayat. The length of the river is 45 km, of which 32 km falls under Onda block. The river was navigable once upon a time but due to systematic neglect, has lost its health and importance, resulting in a drop in the layer of ground water. Also, there has been rampant deforestation and scarcity of drinking water.
Birabati is the lifeline of Onda block. It flows over an area of 9 gram panchayats. Majority of the local population live along the banks of Birabati and Dwarakeshwar rivers. The rivers get flooded during monsoon while in other seasons they are almost dead.
Nearly 60 percent of the work to construct a watershed has been completed. Birabati has got back its navigability due to the efforts of Kalyani, Ratanpur, Punishole, Chudamanipur, Medinipur, Nakaijuri, Kantabari, Ramsagar and Chingani gram panchayats.
The creation of waterbodies has brought out palpable changes in Onda block and people are growing vegetables even during the dry season. It has been decided that pisciculture will be carried out in the water bodies. The water will also be used for irrigation. Social forestry or orchard gardens will be set up on the banks of the water bodies.
So far, 600 waterbodies have been created along with 22 check dams, 14 gulley plugging, Vetiver plantations along an 11 km stretch along the riverside and massive social forestry.
As a result of these measures, it will be possible to retain rain water and recharge ground water, thereby increasing its layer.
It will also check uncontrolled flood that affect the villagers almost every year. Barren land will be converted into fertile ones and washing out of the upper layer of the soil affecting the fertility of the top soil will be controlled.
The schemes have brought about changes in the economic life of local people. Several fruit orchards have come up in the area in the past few years.