Haveli cultivation turns desolated landscape into paradise: Case study of Poora Birdha village, Lalitpur district
- 200-year-old traditional rainwater harvesting system brought back into practice
- Construction of haveli structures enhanced surface and groundwater availability
- Migration from villages stopped; villagers return home from cities
Talbehat (Lalitpur): Water is the basis of life. It is difficult to think of life without water. This is particularly true in the Poora Birdha village of Talbehat block at Lalitpur district, Uttar Pradesh, India. About 3-4 years ago, with very low freshwater availability, farming was almost impossible and the community was struggling. The situation was worse in the Nakti Devi cluster of the Poora Birdha village. Most of the land area in this cluster was possessed by tribal families as the state government allocated common available land to the marginalized, isolated and deprived populations under the social welfare scheme long ago. The overarching aim of this scheme was to improve the livelihood status of vulnerable families through farming; however, this did not happen. Due to insufficient rainfall, this cluster suffered water scarcity over the years, which was largely due to its position at uppermost part of the landscape with degraded land status. Water availability in dug wells was poor and water bodies such as ponds and puddles were defunct. Farming remained a daydream for the tribal families. Ironically, despite accruing landholding status, 40-50 of such families are neither categorized into a tribal group nor a farming community. Under such circumstances, they were compelled to migrate elsewhere to earn their living through daily wage labor, and the Nakti Devi cluster turned desolate.
Although life was unbearable under such a bleak scenario, Sarman and his wife Khumano did not give up and decided to stay back in the village. They were determined to cultivate minimum land area (half a beegha) to achieve food security for their family with profound courage and hard work. They were engaged in various farming operations such as ploughing, sowing and even irrigation to nurture their crops manually. Water, which was most difficult to acquire, was fetched from distant wells in pots to irrigate the plants. They spent most of the day, from morning to evening, fetching water to fulfil the irrigation needs of the half-beegha land.
This story was first published by Dainik Jagran