IT is at a time like this that the famous Ralegan Siddhi village
in Ahmednagar district -- the handiwork of a social worker, Anna
Hazare -- stands out with a difference. It is green and it is
surviving. There is indeed stress but no distress.
The village has received only 150 mm to 175 mm of rainfall
this year, about half its normal quota. But no one has migrated,
and no one has gone out looking for jobs with the state's
employment guarantee scheme.
Hazare has got the villagers to make a percolation tank,
contour bund the entire watershed and bund each of the 45 nalas.
The Maharashtra government has also built thousands of
percolation tanks, but in Ralegan Siddhi, Hazare ensured that all
the technical details were kept in mind.
While neighbouring villages have not managed even one crop
this year, Ralegan Siddhi has grown two. Last month, the farmers
harvested onions and now they are waiting for the sweet lime
crop. The over five lakh fruit trees that have been planted till
today yield fodder, fruit and income.
But one year is already over and the village has water for
only two more months. What happens if the next monsoon also
fails? One villager asks, "How can we store water if there is
Ralegan Siddhi has obviously tried its best. Whatever the
future may hold, it has shown that good social discipline and
ecological management can make all the difference.