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Hamirpur Watershed Development Programme (2000 – 2004)

In September 2000, the Hamirpur (H.P.) District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) invited PSI to implement watershed development in 69 villages of Sujanpur and Nadaun blocks.
One of the first accomplishments was the mobilization of women. When PSI's team first called a meeting in the area, only a few women came - all in ghoongats.
Now women are in a majority in most meetings and the ghoongat has been dispensed with.

While inviting PSI to undertake the work, Anuradha Thakur, then Deputy Commissioner of Hamirpur, had asked that priority be given to solving the domestic water supply problem of the watershed villages, since they faced severe water availability problems and the district administration had to routinely send tankers to these villages. Today no water tanker is required by any of the 69 villages. Instead, tankers fill up here to supply water elsewhere (See box below).

Using knowledge gained from the Institute's Jal Sanskriti programme, its Hamirpur team mobilized the local communities to install a combination of traditional water harvesting structures (bawris and nauns) and new innovative technologies (deep infiltration wells and spring sanctuaries) alongwith conventional soil and water conservation measures.

A significant indicator of the success achieved in this watershed is the commitment of many VLIs to continue to work on the path of transparent and self-reliant processes even after the watershed project is over. They have demonstrated an ability to take new initiatives. The Mahila Mandals of Andara-Palasi and Batali villages have been given funds by the district administration to implement environmental conservation projects conceived by them. An external review commissioned by the Hamirpur DRDA commended the work done.
People's Water Supply In, Government Out

In Himachal Pradesh, domestic water is normally supplied by the Irrigation & Public Health (IPH) Department. But in Dabker and Bhusal villages, people have installed their own water supply system, replacing that of the IPH. This is a result of PSI's Hamirpur Watershed Development Programme.

The IPH Department had installed a water supply pipeline for Dabker in the 1990s. But when PSI's  watershed  programme began,  people said  that they had not  received any water from the IPH in 3 years. They were keen to have a local source of water that would be under their control. They formed a Jal Samiti. A big impetus came from Smt. Tripta Devi, a school teacher, who donated land and Rs.20,000 for a well. PSI provided technical assistance and helped the villagers construct a well using a wall of porous cement blocks. A nala-bund was constructed in a stream flowing behind the well to increase the groundwater recharge.
After the well was constructed the people installed a pump to lift water to all the 21 families in the village. The total cost of the installation was about Rs.l,20,000. The people contributed Rs.90,000 in cash and the rest as Shramdan. Later, they built an overhead tank. Now the water is first pumped to the tank and then supplied to the users by gravity flow. The Hamirpur DRDA provided Rs.50,000 for the construction of the overhead tank.
The Dabker Jal Samiti charges Rs.20 per connection every month for meeting the power and maintenance costs. Water is also supplied free of cost to the local high school, primary school and the Primary Health Centre.
Once the water supply system began functioning, the Jal Samiti wrote to the IPH office asking it to withdraw, since the village now had its own water supply system and would not pay any bills to the IPH. The IPH water connection was cut in 2003 and an MoU was duly signed to this effect. Inspired by this example, the neighbouring Bhusal village also installed its own water supply system and got the IPH Department to withdraw. Now Tareti village is preparing to follow suit! 
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Developed by: People's Science Institute, Dehra Doon, Uttarakhand, India