Three months after they started a move to desilt all ponds in Faridkot, the district administration and Rural Development and Panchayat Department claimed to have cleaned 198 ponds by spending Rs 168.11 crore in the district. The move was aimed at conserving rainwater in ponds during the monsoon and also providing employment to the daily wagers in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, said Vimal Setia, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot.

The cleaning of the ponds during the last three months, generated 64,204 workdays under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), said Baljit Kaur, District Development and Panchayat Officer.

In 213 villages of Faridkot district, there are 272 ponds. As most of these ponds were being used to dump dirty water, the district administration initiated a move to desilt these ponds so that these could store rainwater.

“As many as 231 ponds in 163 villages were identified. Desilting of 198 ponds has already been completed,” said the DC.

In the rainy season, village ponds, commonly known as ‘chhaper’ or ‘toba,’ are crucial to reduce the risk of floods. But ponds have been encroached upon or filled up. So, the district administration had started working on a move to save and revive these ponds.

“The silt dug up from ponds during the dry season is used as a fertiliser. It helps in increasing the crop yield,” said Umendra Dutt, executive director, Kheti Virasat Mission, a voluntary organisation of natural farming. With accumulation of silt, mud and highly toxic water, most of the ponds in rural areas have no capacity to hold water for short periods, allowing for better control of the storm water.

“Earlier, these ponds were recharging the groundwater. Now, waste dumped in these ponds is further polluting the groundwater in surrounding areas,” said Dutt.

Source: The Tribune, August 10, 2020