Cavrem, in the SanguemTaluka of Goa is one of the hot spots of iron ore mining and the anti mining agitations. But what I am going to tell you is a story that is unfolding in that very midst, but is very different.
The men and women of Cavrem have joined hands to operate an integrated watershed development project with the help of Mineral Foundation of Goa and Directorate of Agriculture.
Iron Ore Mining in Goa
They started with digging of 8,800 staggered trenches on surrounding hillocks and rolling fields to harvest runoff rain water and trap the fertile top soil. This ensured that the rain runoff at beginning of monsoon was slowed down and given plenty of time to percolate in the ground. It also obstructed flow of fertile top soil in the drainage and helped maintain fertility of soil.
They also effectively harvested the flow of excess rain water by digging 8 saucer shaped sunken ponds in lower areas helping in recharge of local groundwater. The flow of top soil through drain was effectively checked by construction of 12 Gully Plugs and 24 Loose Boulder Check Dams at strategic location in the drain line. These artificial hurdles in the nullah acted as sieves and helped in retaining the dried leaves, twigs and fertile top soil.
As a result the people in the area have experienced higher flow of water during summer in the perennial nullahs flowing beside village and also higher cashew output due to extended moisture availability. Buoyed by success of this natural resource conservation effort, the group has embarked on adding more value to their agricultural output.
Mining & Conservation in India
They have taken up cultivation of vegetables like cowpea, green gram, cluster bean, bhendi, knolkhol, groundnut, sweet potato, chilly and udidh, which they sell in local or taluka markets. The groups have experimented with cultivation of marigold flowers and made good profit by selling these flowers during Dusshera and Diwali festivals. This has fetched them good returns, and this year the groups have cultivated more area under marigold.