Ending the 26-year wait, Baheri farmers rebuild dam

22 Oct 2016 | By Ramya

Farmers from over 25 villages in Uttar Pradesh's Baheri collected Rs.70,000 and started building a 98-feet-long and 20-feet-wide 'kutcha' dam.

They had been facing irrigation-related issues for nearly 26 years as a dam constructed during the British rule was damaged in 1990.

After waiting for the government to solve the problem, they decided to build a dam themselves while some other villagers also contributed.

In context: Self-helping Baheri farmers of Uttar Pradesh

IntroductionAbout UP's Baheri town

Baheri is a town in Uttar Pradesh's Bareilly district and one of the 403 Vidhan Sabha constituencies.

In 1990, a British-era dam collapsed after which farmers faced irrigation-related issues.

After 1990, six MLAs from Baheri have been elected from Samajwadi Party and BJP (three each), but none of them seem to have paid attention to the farmers' requests of getting a 'pucca' dam constructed.

22 Oct 2016Ending the 26-year wait, Baheri farmers rebuild dam

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Dam being built using mud and sand

With the help of some other villagers, the farmers reportedly started building the kutcha dam on 17 Oct'16 at Tehra village using mud and sand bags. The dam is expected to be ready by 21 Oct.
District administration used to build kutcha dam every year

Before 1990District administration used to build kutcha dam every year

Chief Development Officer (CDO) SS Awasthi said before 1990, the district administration used to build a "kutcha" dam every rabi season.

The dam used to be damaged during monsoon but was remade before winter, every year.

After 1990, the construction was stopped reportedly due to high input cost.

He added a proposal for a pucca dam was sent in 2014 to the state government.

Proposal to the UP Government still pending

The proposal to the state government is still pending. Awasthi said: "Villagers have informed us that they are constructing a dam with public participation at Tehra village and also start the same work at neighboring Khamariya village from Friday. I will inspect the dam soon."

Water InadequacyQuality of crops deteriorated due to water crisis

CDO Awasthi said the district administration would again take up the issue with the state government for building a pucca dam.

Hundreds of farmers have faced problems in irrigating their crops after 1990.

Rampal Singh, a farmer, said the quality of crops deteriorated due to inadequate water.

He added their requests to politicians and administration for over two decades fell on deaf ears.

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Self-helpThe farmers proved officials wrong, says ex-MLA Barar

Things changed when ex-MLA and Kisan Kalyan Samiti Chief Jaideep Singh Barar persuaded farmers and villagers to build a dam on their own.

Barar said they met officials earlier who told them they wouldn't be able to construct a dam by themselves; the farmers proved them wrong.

He added that a second kutcha dam at Khamariya, 60 km from Bareilly would be built soon.

Officials never paid attention to farmers' requests

A farmer Sukhbir Singh stated, "The dam will now benefit farmers. Though we have constructed the dam, we want the administration to ensure its safety." Another farmer Khalil Ahmad said officials never listened earlier but are now visiting the site as the dam is complete.