Farmer builds dam for self, village

A 42-year-old farmer from a small village in Akola district has sold a large chunk of his farmland to build a dam for himself and the farmers in his village after he got no assistance from the state government.
Sanjay Tidke, who along with his brother owned 30 acres of land in Sangvi Durgwada village in Murtizapur taluka, sold 10 acres of land for Rs.55 lakh and is using Rs.20 lakh to build a large dam which has a water storage capacity of 3 crore litres.
Tidke says he sold off that part of farmland that would always get washed off during the rains, damaging the crops. “ A canal flows through my farm and since there was no dam to block water, every monsoon a large portion of my farm would get washed off causing huge losses. I have repeatedly asked the government for assistance to build a dam to stop water from coming into my farm, but there has been no response and so I decided to do something myself, “said Tidke, who grows soyabean, cotton and tur in his fields. This dam is called a cement nullah bund in technical parlance. The state government has announced several schemes for water conservation, but their implementation has been questioned by many. Many of the schemes don't even cover a fraction of the cost of the project, leaving the farmer to bear the rest; there have also been complaints of delays in approving projects.
The government officials of the district agriculture department helped Sanjay Tidke with expertise on how and which type of dam to construct. But other government officials began harassing him over the sand he was using for the project and filed police complaints against him for allegedly buying sand illegally .The construction of the dam started in March and after completion in the next 2 weeks will be ready to hold water this monsoon. “On one hand the government is spending crores of rupees to undertake water conservation projects, and on the other hand when a farmer is spending money from his own pocket to something for the village, the government officials still create problems,“ said Tidke.
After word spread about the dam being constructed, many farmer groups started visiting the site and helped him deal with the issues that government officials would raise. The site has become very popular with farmers and government officials visiting it.
“It's a one-of-its-kind project. Not only Tidke, but the entire village will benefit from the project. Farmers will be able to grow a second crop using the water in the dam,“said Santosh Gawai, member of a farmers' group from the neighbouring taluka.

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