Continuous Contour Trenching (CCT) is an unparalleled methodology to increase afforestation and conserve water with negligible erosion. This technique is the brain child of Mr.V.G.Takalkar, a retired Forest Officer who has taken up the initiative of increasing the green cover of Pune. Our journalist, Adeena Jamal Ahmad got an opportunity to interview Mr. V.G. Takalkar. Excerpts from the interview are as follows:
Sir, tell us about your early life and education.
I was born in a village near Pune and belonged to an agricultural family. Education was not given much priority and it so happened that I was the first person to graduate from my village. My father insisted I study even though I had several job prospects. Thereafter my graduation, I appeared for the Public Service Commission. I got selected in my first attempt and I joined the Associate of Indian Forest College, Dehradun in the year 1967.
Sir, elaborate upon your works as a forest Officer.
Once I finished my training in the year 1969, I was transferred to Maharashtra. My first posting was at Nashik. My work involved preservation of forests. As a forest development officer, it was in my job routine to clear forests and plants better sapling and thus raising the land value. I was also in Social Forestry and my first independent charge was given when I was posted to the Satpura area.
When did you first implement the Continuous Contour Trenching (CCT) Project?
I was posted in Sholapur . Since it is an arid area , we had to plant trees on the rocky hillocks. It was then that I realized the importance of CCT. It was evaluated that both soil and water are critical for the growth of any kind of green cover. Through this method, we can obtain 70% output with green cover with negligible erosion.
Sir, what is so different in method that it reaps such benefits?
The Continuous Contour Trenching Method is basically based on selecting the height of a certain piece of land, and joining areas of equal height. Followed by this a trench is dug around the same contour which can be done efficiently by a contour marker. Water that runs down the hillocks can be collected in these trenches, reducing erosion and collecting water that is beneficent in planting trees. According to Government statistics, 20 tonnes of soil per hectare per year is lost, which is a large amount. This soil with its fertility once lost cannot be regained. CCT reduces erosion to almost nil, intervenes the water flow which helps in the increase in soil moisture content.
What has been your experience using this method.
Over the years, I have covered an area of 36000 hectares under CCT alone and almost planted 50 million trees. The unique point of the entire procedure is that the tree survival rate is almost 90%. In Maharashtra alone, there are 700 villages in 5 districts that have CCT plantations. . The method also generated an employment of 5 million man days for transient/casual labor, indirectly aiding the State Government achieve its targets.
Sir, how well has this technique of yours been recognized by the government?
Well, I have been felicitated by the Hon’ble President of India and been awarded the Indira Priayadarshini Vriksha Mitra Award in 2003. The special award of merit for soil and moisture conservation by the Agriculture Department of the Government of Maharashtra and The Shankarrao Kirloskar Shatabdi Smriti Samiti award for contribution towards restoration and environmental development has also been awarded to me.
Sir, what are your plans ahead?
As of now, I am a member of Apex Committee PGTF/G-77 On Sustainable Rain Water Harvesting and Ground Water Recharge in developing Countries and a full time consultant to Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited. Apart from this I am an active member with several NGO’s across Pune and help in increasing the green cover of the city. Successfully planted trees with the CCT method in nearly 20 acres of land in Baner.
I have already imparted field training to 13000 students on Water-Shed Management and water literacy during N.S.S. Camps and lectures to about 30000 college students and NSS co-ordinators of Pune University on environment, soil conservation and water literacy.
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