Lending a ‘watery’hand to farmers
This BMC employee always wanted to work for farmers by ending perennial water woes in Marathwada, Sudhir Suryawanshi writes.
MAHARASHTRA: Shrikant Paygavhane works as sub engineer in Asia’s richest civic body – the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in Mumbai — but he always wanted to do something for the region where his roots belong.
Life in Mumbai has been comfortable and his steady job as a public works officer has been paying well. However, Shrikant always fought off a lump in his throat whenever he recalled the gasping farmers and parched fields back home in rural Marathwada. This very feeling led to his endeavor to ensure the water security of our green champions, the kisans.
While his work began in 2017, fast forward to 2022, Shrikant is now involved in water conservation efforts in eight districts and nearly 80 villages.
Coming from the drought-prone Jalna district – 450 km from Mumbai – Shrikant from an early age learned that water has multifaceted effects on the lives of people and children. “I have seen very closely how lives are changed – from either an ample supply of water or a shortage of it. My father’s tryst with social causes and his pioneering newspaper – one of the oldest in the region – groomed me to work for the oppressed and deprived. I closely saw how my father amplified social causes through his newspaper. That urge made me restless. And, the next thing is I created a platform to work for farmers by ending perennial water woes and turning the fate of the region,” Shrikant said.
After brainstorming with like-minded civil officers and friends in the corporate world, Shrikant decided to start the ‘Paach Patils’ platform. Historically, the first revenue officers in villages of the larger Maratha-Konkan region were called Patils.
The mission is to store 500 crore litres at various check dams, while an innovative and decentralized system has been devised by Shrikant. “Our volunteers working on the ground are called Paach Patils and I am one of them. This is the most decentralised and community-driven model for water procurement – where 60% of expenditure is borne by farmers and 40% by our NGO. The farmer bears the fuel expenses and the remaining expenses are borne by the NGO,” Shrikant said.
Their community-driven water conservation works include cleaning and desilting of rivers and mullahs, constructions of farm roads and farm ponds, and plantation of trees along rivers to arrest soil erosion, Shrikant explained.