img1A demonstration of the RPOW project at work in the Chandrapur Block of the Rayagada District of Odisha.
10,000 cubic meters of soil was removed from the waterbodies, creating a water holding capacity of 1 crore litres. The same soil is put in farmers’ fields, thus reducing fertilizer costs. The rejuvenated waterbody also creates livelihood opportunities for rural women through pisciculture.
Image credits: Bhubaneswar City Knowledge and Innovation Cluster


India accounts for about 17% of the world’s population, and harbours only 4% of global freshwater resources. This signifies great potential for a shortage of water, and a desperate need to improve freshwater availability. However, in India, water bodies are an integral part of almost every district. They are meant to be the key source of water for the local ecosystem and the underground water table. 

For instance, the Chandrapur Block of the Rayagada District of Odisha is endowed with diverse and distinctive traditional waterbodies such as ponds, tanks, (bandha and pokhari in Odia), etc. Every water body plays a massive role in maintaining and restoring the ecological balance by providing drinking water and livelihood opportunities, along with recharging the groundwater and controlling floods in the region. However, in recent times, the people of the Chandrapur Block of the Rayagada District have been facing unprecedented water crises in the summer/pre-monsoon period each year. Due to low or delayed rainfall at this time, these water bodies are now unable to provide an adequate amount of water. This has severely impacted agriculture as well as the livelihood of the people living in this region. 

This situation is not unique to the Chandrapur Block in Odisha. It is mirrored in several other regions of the country, where people have been struggling with constant water shortage problems. An assessment of the problem indicated that waterbody rejuvenation could be a potent solution. 

Given that adequate availability of water is a prerequisite for ensuring the survival and quality of human life, the Bhubaneswar City Knowledge Innovation Cluster (BCKIC) Foundation aimed to provide a permanent solution to this problem. With support from the IITians for Influencing India’s Transformation (IIT–IIT) initiative—a pan-India IIT alumni network working towards scaling up social impact programmes in the country at the national level—we chose three water bodies in the Rayagada District, for restoration. This rejuvenation project became the pilot effort in this region as part of IIT–IIT’s ‘Restore Promise of Water (RPOW)’ programme, through which they aim to contribute to water body rejuvenation across India by increasing their water holding capacities. Our project was very well supported by the Strategic Alliance Division, Office of the PSA.

The Chandrapur Block is located 79 km east from the district headquarters of Rayagada. It has a total population of 28,952 (as per the 2011 Census). In the Chandrapur Block, the goal of implementing the RPOW project was to enhance the storage capacity of the three chosen waterbodies, to store an additional four crore litres of water annually. With a community-focused programme that involved 250 farmers, 10,000 cubic meters of highly nutritious soil (silt) was excavated from the water bodies, resulting in a substantial increase in their water storage capacity. Additionally, the silt obtained in the process is being used in agricultural lands, and will positively impact the fertility of soil, thereby reducing fertilizer costs for farmers in the long run.

img2Before (left) and after (right) implementing the RPOW project at three waterbodies “Jasoda bandha,” “Patra Bandha,” & “Jigyan Sagar” in the Dangasorada village of the Chandrapur block of the Rayagada District, Odisha.
Image credits: Bhubaneswar City Knowledge and Innovation Cluster


The implementation of the RPOW project in Chandrapur has helped establish a win-win relationship between the people of the community and their local water bodies. With a long-term vision, BCKIC looks forward to rejuvenating multiple water bodies of the block to positively impact the water table in the region and ensure the promise of water for the people of Odisha.

About the author

Dr. Prashant Singh is the CEO of BCKIC and Sudhir Kumar Jha is the Manager of Technology, Innovation and Management at BCKIC.

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