National Urban Water and Sanitation Awards
Gautampura Nagar Panchayat
Catch Water, Where it Falls Water Harvesting in Gautampura
Gautampura Nagara Panchayat was facing very severe problems of drinking water since 1995.

The newly elected council in the year 2004 took an initiative to recharge water resources so as to improve ground water level of whole town. One km. away from the town, a stop dam-type structure was constructed to stop the flow of rain water through rainy brooks. With the rain water, the structure got filled up. Within a short span of time a great increase in groundwater level was observed. At present, the Nagar Panchayat is supplying water at 110 lpcd to its citizens due to the stored water. The rise in the water table has been such that the town would have sufficient water till next 20 years.


Gautampura is a Nagar Panchayat town is located 55 km from Indore in Madhya Pradesh. Gautampura Nagar Panchayat was constituted in 1981 and presently has 15 wards with an area of 9.5 Sq. Km. According to Census 2001 the town has population of 13,225, while the present population as per provisional figures of Census 2011 is 15,600.

There was no perennial source of water for the town, therefore, the town was dependent on ground water through tube wells since 1981.. Due to continuous extraction, the ground water table has declined to 100 to 150 feet and even up to 500 feet by 1995. The water supply has completely deteriorated during 1995-2004. This has resulted in supply of drinking water once in 13 days. Subsequently, water supply was discontinued and water was supplied through water tankers only and the town was divided into tanker zones. This has caused severe dissatisfaction among the citizens and as one of the consequences of the poor water supply the percentage of Below Poverty Line Population has gone up to 72 and this has also resulted in outmigration.

Two attempts have been made to improve the water supply situation during this period. The first one was to fetch water from a major pond known as Banediya Pond located at a distance of 15 km from the town but the proposal could not be taken up as the farmers and villagers dependent on this pond have protested vigorously. The second attempt has been made the Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED) which formulated a scheme to bring water from about 8 km by constructing a tubewell and a storage tank. However, the scheme has failed as the tubewell has not only dried up but the quality of water was found to be saline in nature too.

Against this backdrop, the newly elected council in November 2004 under the leadership of the President has resolved to address the water supply problem by implementing a sustainable water supply system by utilizing the traditional knowledge and material at a low cost with community participation. The objective was to develop a sustainable source through ground water recharging by harvesting the rain water.
The objectives of the initiative are:
  • to solve the problem of drinking water
  • to quench the thirst of the people and work in a well-planned and managed way to achieve this
  • to recharge water resources so as to improve underground water level of whole town
The council has first taken up the task of developing a good ground water source. For the purpose, the council has discussed with the elderly people of the town who had the knowledge about the town and its ground water. Their view was that the region was a water course at some point and possibly Chambal has flown through the area and changed the course over the years. They advised the Council to go for dug wells in that region. Based on these suggestions, the Council has dug two wells and found good quality water at 50 to 70 sq ft. The water from these wells was adequate for the entire town.

The Council has discussed the issue of maintain the water table in the wells with the community. The community members felt that the only way to maintain ground the water table is to recharge the ground water by rain water harvesting.. For the purpose, they unanimously agreed to recharge all the existing resources such as ponds, lakes, nalas, etc., with rain water so that they can be full of water throughout the year.

It was decided to construct a pond near the wells so that the water collected in the pond will percolate to the wells and can be used for drinking purpose.
Key features
One km away from the town, a stop dam-type structure was constructed to collect the flow of rain water through rainy brooks. These rainy brooks were stopped at a place known as "Kharcha". Soil of the surrounding area was removed and 400 meter boundary wall was constructed. The PHED opined negative about the scheme but the Council and community with consensus decided to go ahead with the scheme. They have adopted traditional methods such as planting of Neem trees at the boundaries of pond and use of local rocks to prevent the damage from the back water of Chambal River and enhance conservation

Different departments estimated the cost of construction of the pond with an area of 2 Acre and the well between Rs. 25 to 30 lakhs, but the Nagar Panchayat got the construction work completed at the cost of Rs. 13 lakhs. At about half a km distance another pond named "Gautam Sarowar" was repaired and made ready for water recharging.

An innovative approach was adopted to keep the pond recharged by pumping water from the Chambal river into the pond which in turn would recharge the wells. But this required that the Chabal river stores the water for maximum number of days. To ensure this, the community has came up with an idea of obstructing the flow and stopping the water at the near by road bridge by constructing iron enclosures to the pipes.

The community got iron closures for 26 pipes fitted in the Chambal River bridge. The cost of the closures was only Rs. 86,000. This could be used to recharge not only the pond but also other tube wells and wells in the region.

Because of the success of this pond, people in the Eastern region of the Gautampura town, i.e., Runji area, were inspired by Nagar Panchayat and another pond was constructed. Besides, a drainage which passes near the most ancient legacy "Achaleshwar Mahadev" temple was cleaned, a stop dam was constructed and converted into a beautiful lake.

Among the various hurdles, the biggest was non-availability of electricity. For this Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board (MPEB) gave an estimate of Rs 3.7 Lakh for laying electric lines from the power house to the wells in Kharacha region. Due to shortage of funds, this idea was dropped and Nagar Panchayat used local labour and put sincere and honest efforts that resulted installation of a transformer and electric line with a very economic and affordable cost of Rs. 65,000 only. As water was available in sufficient quantity from these wells, water supply network has been extended to those areas of the city which were uncovered. It made water available to most of the parts of the town. It has also resulted in cost saving for Nagar Panchayat as expenditure on water supply through tankers has been reduced considerably.

Another innovation initiated by the Council is that the pumps fixed at the wells can be operated through mobile phones. A mobile phone is connected to the pump's switch board through digital equipment. By giving a missed call to the mobile phone, the pumps can be operated. Council has invested only Rs. 6,000 for this system but it greatly facilitates pump operations as only one person can look after not only pump operations but also other water supply related activities as well.

Catchment Area
Situation under Construction After the initiative
Dug well
Situation under Construction After the initiative

The innovative initiative has led to substantial improvement in the water supply. Firstly, the ground water table has improved across the town including the drinking water source wells. The water is available throughout the year for distribution hence town does not have to depend on water tankers. This has resulted in considerable cost saving for the Nagar Panchayat.

The cost of water supply operations has also come down as now Nagar Panchayat does not have to operate various tube wells operational in the city for supply of water which has saved the electricity expenditure significantly and the town's income from water supply exceeds the expenditure. In March 2001, Nagar Panchayat's expenditure per household connection was Rs. 218 which has come down to Rs. 43. With confidence built in the citizen and extension of network the number of individual connections have also gone up from 987 to 1,465 during 2001 to 2010. Total revenue generation has increased by 50%. The per capita availability of water has gone up from 30 liter per capita per day (lpcd) to 105 lpcd which is more than three times.

People are highly satisfied with the present water supply and claim that it is probably the best in the entire region. This has brought down the unrest among the citizen and even they contributed in the capital cost of the scheme. The town has become a model for other towns which have adopted similar practices for recharging the ground water. As there is an increase in agricultural activity due to increased ground water table, it is expected that the percentage of BPL population would also come down.
For further details, contact:

Gautampura Nagar Panchayat
Office of Nagar Panchayat
Shakti Nagar Marg
Gautampura - 453 220
Dist. Indore, Madhya Pradesh
Telefax: 07322 - 230252

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