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पूर्व सैनिकों का देश निर्माण   मन्च

All India Ex Soldiers League

Veteran’s platform for fraternal and nation building Missions


‘A small visionary step ahead of  world Climate Change Alarm”

PANORAMA gives a map pictorial view of terrain transformation by three water bodies created by Sainiksangh across 50 hecs of arid and drought ridden region of Yamuna Ravines over a period from 1999 to 2014 (thumbnail  image  placed at their location).

WATER AND ENVIRONMENT                                                              

‘Why strangely should we have focussed on water? Because of a poignant situation in a village where an old military widow begged  that she be shot rather solicited for her vote in elections ; since there was no drinking water as village wells go dry during summers and her pleas go  unheeded by all over the years ‘As conveyed  to Maj Gen APS Chauhan on his visit to her village in 1996. Water and environment therefore became central to our activity. Learning by experimentation and taking risk since we had no knowhow in this field . Yet this impacts entire gamut of  our objectives taken holistically. The survival and welfare of veterans / serving  and their communities in remote areas and  arid ravines the habitat of our communities. Water for drinking, cattle fodder, grazing fields, forests and fauna without which a rural habitat is incomplete. Water being  most important in this structure without which building blocks of community well being  such as health, hygiene, income generation and education  are illusionary Unless these basics are  met and conditions for depleting returns from agriculture not reversed, flight to cities  from villages the granary of soldiering cannot be stemmed. Environment is closely linked to military activities and in many armies a General Staff subject (eg Soviet /Russian armies) since this is impacted by field exercises and war which are environment destructive. Measures such as post exercise tree planting, adopting areas for forestry and  greening of military habitat management of field firing ranges are  integral to peacetime activity  to  promote environment consciousness. Water being  at core of looming crisis and key to food security, we experimented with  rainwater harvesting since ravine terrain is ideally suited for such measures though irrigation authorities felt otherwise on account of  soil being totally silt. Yet blocking gullies by check dams if successful could arrest monsoon run off and create seasonal water bodies to recharge subsoil water level. We pulled this off applying military engineering gutsiness but after a herculean effort against many odds technical, no resources nor   organisation just commitment to community and sense for improvisation. Not to say having to face   bureaucratic apathy bordering  putting spanner in the works  and rigid attitudes. Notwithstanding, the three villages we tackled are today  assured of water security for times to come with subsoil level up by  minimum 3 ft income generation enhanced with savings in preparing  land for tilling, dead  wells rejuvenated, soil cover restored, fallow land reclaimed, eco degradation reversed with  transformation of terrain providing a carbon sink The first check dam in the region was completed 2003. We named these as Swasti   series (Sanskrit for well being ) Swasti I , II &IV with run off into Yamuna R. Network  of check dams of this nature  in wastelands of ravines  can usher great socio economic  benefits for marginalised communities. By creating pasture land with return of milk cattle which have vanished in this once milk producing region, introducing horticulture and apiculture  for which there s great scope  and resuscitate fauna and flora for which this belt was once known.
Template Phase I Organisation and Resources Organisation
(a) Establishment of a nerve centre as a Node to function as
IWAC – Integrated Watershed Data and Action Cell A district level  Nerve Centre for Executing, Monitoring  Controlling Watershed Projects, their evaluation, collection  and dissemination of data, holding records and project histories, interact and liaise with communities, pradhans  and administration. Functions under directions of  League Headquarter at Delhi. Normally at the district town for ease of communications.  A trained hand picked up from community and groomed or a veteran is put  in charge of node as field coordinator (FC) (kshetra prabandhak).  IWAC alo performs the functions of a veterans cell also.  IWAC concept has been tried and tested and is functional at Node Etawah (UP). Below typical node

Above our  FC Kalyan Singh on  on way to Silayata in 2002  (Swasti I ) 16 kms from node. Today he has a m/c.
Note  A Node can be mobile if mounted on a light weight vehicle as a command post.
(b)  Task Force. Based on volunteers from community for manual labour and local tradesmen. No contract labour

2.   Resources
Manpower. For manual work manpower was contributed by same village . Manual work remunerated at daily wages rates.
Machine Power. We had no funds for hiring machine for earthmoving. Solicited army’s help for this  cause overlapping ex servicemen welfare with that of their communities and ecology. A dozer team was put at our disposal for each check dam a unique partnership perhaps for the first time to our knowledge.
Supervisors. Experienced veterans mainly NCOs
Technical Staff .  Nil.  Veterans were trained on job  in rudiments of application of check dam design . Designs were made at Headoffice no outside enginers were involved
Funds. Held Nil . We sought grants from responsive  agencies .None came to support us even on such national mission. Till  UNDP/UNEP  took note with a paltry grant to provide one third of the cost  after justifying the schemes and executing an MoU.
Phase 2.  Preparing base line and organising community meetings to spread awareness on  watershed measures  environment and  ecology subjects  totally new to them, organise task force
Left : Meetings held in 1999 in village Silayata .  AVM Sahni invitee and Maj Gen APS Chauhan.
Phase 3 Mobilisation. Community participation was central to structuring task forces. Community can be mobilised only by instilling self-help  culture  in  spirit of collective good not too popular now even in rural environment seeped in divisions the  traditional concept of united cohesive panchayat matter of past now riddled with multiparty politics . Traditional society broken down  very  insecure susceptible to hear say and extraneous influences. Any new idea is not easily accepted . Discipline and frugality , example setting were key to delivering results. We were fortunate that a good chunk of  population is  ex servicemen whose discipline and better education provided for  leadership nucleus to mobilise community support when no one had seen a check dam much less made one themselves. They waited for results before being fully convinced which  came with impounding of  first monsoon run off  (Swasti I) . Now even adjoining villages started clamouring for their own on same model (Swasti II and Swasti IV ) .  The self help groups suggested for such mission  are explained below : - ( these committees may  change with nature of mission) : -
(a) Water Resources Committee- (Jal Samiti) Headed by Pradhan With at least one-woman member. Management tube wells , wells during construction.
(b) Work Force  Committee – ( Shram Samiti) Headed by a Veteran leader with one  woman volunteer member.
(c) Monitoring Committee (Dekh Rekh Samiti) Headed by Pradhan.
(d) Technical Committee (Taknini Samiti)
if and when required.

Transformation of Terrain

Note yellow flag on right  and one beyond ( not too visible) marking centre line (CL)  of   check dam (Swasti IV location) across gully below. Shown as once open sheesham forest in 1902 military survery mps , today these ravines are shorn of any tree cver  but for  thorny Julyflora brushwood  which has driven  away all wild life.  Contours  are between 120 to 150 metres gullies, generally oriented east west.  Misty winters with temperatures down to 2deg C summers hot 40deg C . Monsoon run off from 60-hectare catchments draining into Yamuna R.

Glimpse of Activity at Swasti I location Village Silaiyata

Below Left Maj Gen APS chauhan on visit to his field office under bamboo shade discussing details with task force leader Hav M ManSingh of Guards and N/Sub Mathura Singh of Rajputs  (01.02.1998)

Above Centre VP inspecting brick masonary core wall. Right core wall closed by bund on both sides. Below Impact Second Monsoon

Special Mention By UNDP  by Mail to Maj Gen APS Chauhan
Dear Sir,  Your case study is an eye-opener in many ways and I am so impressed to see this happening. Yo Yo ....You have changed the eco-system, even though missed out on a dam due to follies at various ends of  bureaucracy. Never the less you recall that we had in 2014....done an assessment on the rise in water-tables, cropping > intensity...can you further do this after three years......... it may  be much more now...no of wells recharged and in what vicinity in terms > of areas and kms...etc. let's meet one of these days as a team. I can  call Jaison as well...tomorrow if OK with you Hats OFF ! Cheers Sir  Warm Regards, Prabhjot Sodhi > United Nations Development Programme  55, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi – 110003 Tel:  +91-11-46532276  Mob :  +91-9811811996  Fax: +91-11-24627612  www.in.undp.org  Follow us. 

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