Gram Gourav Pratisthan registered to ameliorate water scarcity conditions in Purandhar Block , Pune district. During severe drought of 1972, Shri Vilasrao Salunke, who was
a technocrat entrepreneur, started relief work in drought prone area. After the drought was over, GGP negotiated a barren piece of land of 16 hectares (40 Acres) from the Village Temple Trust of Naigaon village, from Purndhar Block. From 74 to 78 GGP demonstrated a successful model of Watershed Development. Through this demonstration it is proved that even in low rainfall area (400 mm) the rain water can be conserved and used for protective irrigation.

Considering the average rainfall of the area & calculating the run off from the village fields, it was worked out that it is possible to give protective irrigation to 1/3 rd area under cultivation in village Naigaon. This, in turn, meant that ½ acre per capita irrigation ( 1000 cube meter) could assured. Accordingly a total plan for village Naigaon was worked out, and first pilot project was successfully implemented in village Naigaoan with full participation of the local group. This was the beginning of Pani Panchayat Movement, which spread in Purandhar Block and following principles of Pani Panchayat were evolved in the process,

  • The available water would be allotted to beneficiary members at the rate of half acre of irrigation (20 R) on a per capita basis with a maximum of 2 ½ acres (1 hectare) of irrigation in a family.
  • All the members would have to contribute 20 % of the capital cost in cash initially.
  • Heavy water duty crops like sugarcane, banana, turmeric etc. would not be eligible for irrigation in water scarcity area and the  Cropping patterns will restricted to seasonal crops with low water requirements.
  • The access to water would be based on the number of persons in the family and not in relation to the rights in land.
  • The beneficiary members have no right to sell the water rights.
  • Landless persons can also get access to water on the basis of which he could enter into on informal lease in arrangement for the exchange of land with somebody who has more land.

This innovative water management system, which has an inbuilt device to control the demand as per availability of water and ensure equity in water use, came to be known popularly as `Pani Panchayat’.

`Pani Panchayat’ is a basic concept of management and control of the natural resources; especially water, by the local community on sustainable basis. The various programs undertaken by the Central and State government to cater to the needs of rainfed agriculture, in some ways, incorporate the technology and methodology developed at the demonstration farm of watershed management at village Naigaon. At the same time, more large scale and concentrated efforts are required to really reap the benefits from the model, on a large scale in rural India.