Gujarat, a state on the west coast of India, has been grappling with an environmental problem for over 30 years. Indiscriminate ground water extraction has led to the ingress of sea water into arable land, in many places reaching 10-15km inland. With underground water aquifers affected, it has left over 1,500 villages with water unfit for consumption. The increased salinity has affected crops, decreased productivity and soil fertility, and resulted in migration and social unrest in many villages.
Sir Ratan Tata Trust & Navajbai Ratan Tata Trust, with its partner organisations, launched the Kharash Vistarotthan Yojana (KVY) in 2002 to mitigate the problem. An umbrella organisation, the Coastal Salinity Prevention Cell (CSPC), was also set up to address the issue in a comprehensive manner.
The focus has been on integrated water resources development and judicious management of the available resources through ground water recharging, aquifer mapping, water use efficiency, and improving water quality through technology interventions.
Farmers were encouraged to switch over to crops that consume less water, and provided technical and advisory services on improved farming practices, vegetable cultivation and horticulture, and diversifying to non-farm-based economic activities.
KVY is also working in the area of education through a project that is being implemented in Devbhoomi Dwarka district, through a joint arrangement between CSPC and Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development.